“So, is the house up to code?”

The Question: In my experience, the question gets asked somewhere around the end of an inspection. The buyer, carefully and quietly with full eye contact, will ask: “So, is the house up to code?” There it is. The fulcrum, the keystone, the linchpin. The seriousness is real and the anxiousness palpable. Emotions simmer below the […]

Read More »

Bond, Pipe Bond

When Ian Fleming named his famous MI6 agent, he wanted the name to be as mundane and forgettable as possible. James Bond’s namesake was an American ornithologist, a book of whose Fleming happened to have at the house in the Caribbean where he wrote. In his own words, Fleming wanted, “Bond to be an extremely […]

Read More »

The P-Trap Predicament

A few weeks ago the p-trap under the sink in the master bathroom of the big grey house sprang a leak. Periodic plumbing mishaps are a predictable part of the restoration process. Fixtures and appliances that have been out of service for a while often work just after being revived, but then fail or quit […]

Read More »

Firedrops

“With one’s face in the wind, you were almost burned with a shower of firedrops. We staid till, it being darkish, we saw the fire as only one entire arch of fire from this to the other side [of] the bridge, and in a bow up the hill for an arch of above a mile […]

Read More »

Understanding M Homes

“I really love the internet. They say chat-rooms are the trailer parks of the internet […]” – Carrie Fisher   Whether it is fair or not, mobile homes and trailer parks are objects of derision and mockery. More than one comedian has made a career out of trailer park based humor. After all, if a […]

Read More »

Don’t Settle on a Wet Basement

I’m willing to bet that most of your associations with settlement aren’t that great: settling a disagreement, settling for second place, and settling down is, for 20-somethings still on their parents’ insurance plans, something only slightly more appealing than prison. The verb to settle, in fact, comes from the same root as the verb to […]

Read More »

Pipe Problems

“It’s a lead pipe lock” What on earth does this saying mean anyway? It is, of course, a common idiom for something that is assured. It seems to me that it comes up most often in the context of sports prognostication. On a radio show out of Washington just the other day, the commentator said, […]

Read More »

Winter Winds and Withering Wallets

As a little kid, I was pretty sure that Winchester got its name from the windiness of our winters. When your wet hair freezes at the bus stop and you go to sleep listening to the whistling around the windows, it makes sense. It turns out that my childhood etymology was a bit off; nevertheless, […]

Read More »

Wire, wire, pants on fire.

I often get asked if I give some sort of priority or ranking to issues that I find when inspecting a home. I absolutely do. My inspection reports have a summary section that appears before the rest of the report, and issues that need to be addressed first (sometimes I’ll say “before occupying”) go into […]

Read More »

The Iceberg Effect

Famously, the part of the iceberg that can be seen above the waterline is only a fraction of the whole. Not accounting for what can’t be seen has led to some historic catastrophes like the sinking of the Titanic, and indirectly to excruciatingly long movies like Titanic. Ignoring what’s not in front of you is […]

Read More »