2014 Atlanta Home Trends

Posted on 22. Apr, 2014 by in Architecture, Building Science, Caring for your Home, Eco-Inspector, Energy, Heating and Air-Conditioning, Intown Neighborhoods, Nature

These real-world trends in the Atlanta market are worth a look. Thanks to agent Peggy Desiderio and landscape contractor David Curl for your knowledge and advice


Boomer-town Decatur is popular with the 50 and over crowd

Walk To Pizza

What was once a lifestyle decision is now an economic necessity.   This nation-wide trend holds for Atlanta, ITPand OTP.



Walkable Neighborhood: Jazz night in Oakhurst

Sprawled Out
Hell on Wheels Atlanta traffic has put the brakes on outward expansion







Take the Last Train to Boomerville 

Ranch-condo quads for the 55 and older set are hot properties if they have the right features:  lock ‘n leave maintenance, water and energy efficiency, big kitchens, good detailing and NO STAIRS!

Seaside, Florida designer Andres Duany explains
retirement communities:  http://vimeo.com/6517061

Icycylene foam insulation helped transform this 100 year old crawl into a dry, conditioned basement-like space

New Science for Crawl Spaces

Cleaning, sealing and conditioning your crawl space works. I know.  I’ve done it at my house.


Direct, Efficient Solutions

Direct vent gas appliances allow installers to draw air for combustion and dilution from outside, a logical choice where finished basements limit available air and in older homes to bypass failing masonry chimneys.


Killing Two Birds with One Foam

Icycylene foam forms an efficient pressure and
thermal barrier.  Foam keeps moisture and bugs out while increasing R-values in roofs, walls and floors. The nature of the material allows it to fill irregular spaces traditional materials cannot.


Hardscaped Outdoor Room Fire pit, sit wall, water feature, Cherokee stone patio

Hardscapes and Edible Gardens 

Landscape clients spend more on patios, sit walls and fire pits than on trees and shrubs.

Many prefer kitchen gardens with fruit trees, berries and herbs and designs that reduce water use

On the Way Out……

Road Warrior no more  Commutes over 30 minutes are no longer the norm.

Chimneys don’t make energy sense.  Switch-activated gas appliances provide convenient, safe heating.

Rarely used jetted tubs are giving way to the oversized stall showers.

Made for another era furnace humidifiers, whole house, attic exhaust and ceiling fans often do more efficiency and air quality harm than good.  Better to have a tight building with a designed ventilation system.


Ice, Snow and Old Houses

Posted on 18. Feb, 2014 by in Architecture, Building Science, Intown Neighborhoods, Older Homes

Snowy #2 Tee at Candler Park Golf Course

Notes on Stormageddon and the Decatur Old House Fair

In my capacity as an engineering technician I’ve learned to evaluate storm damage.  Keep me in mind if you’ve got tree-on-the-house.

I spoke to an arborist who told me many firms do not charge to assess trees.  They make their money on surgery, trimming and removal.

Public adjusters assist homeowners by ensuring hazard insurance companies honor their homeowner policies.

Georgia DNR historic preservation program offers tax credits for historically designated neighborhoods like WWII-era Westminster near Emory University.



I enjoy my walks down Ponce on snow days

Fencing contractor mentioned his membership in theAtlanta Archaeological Society.  There’s plenty of history in underground Atlanta:  this group gets you digging.


Eastlake Drive neighbor Michael Purser of Rosebud Floors gave me his new CD that explains how to clean hardwood floors the right way.


Weatherization contractor told me that dollar costs of energy savings are the same regardless of the age of the home. This confirms my field observations that, in spite of new energy codes, the construction industry and general public don’t understand or appreciate how to build energy efficient homes.  I do, let me show you how.

Architects and contractors specialize in restoration and historically correct renovations.  Their expertise is worth every cent…unless your only metric is how much more ft/2 you’ll get.


I gave a talk about why homeowners equate convenience with efficiency and how the study of older homes can help us build better, not bigger.

Kudos to Regina Brewer, a corps of hardworking volunteers and the City of Decatur for another great year at the Old House Fair!

Learn to Identify Potential Problems in Older Homes

Posted on 17. Apr, 2013 by in Intown Neighborhoods

problems in older homeA Checklist for Looking at an  Older  Home

  • Was there a building permit?  All but the most minor improvements require plan approval and site inspections by the city or county. Often the home owner/renovator will bypass the entire process. Sometimes the work performed without review is pretty good; sometimes it’s terrible.
  •  If the home is missing some element you feel you must have (upgraded kitchens and baths, etc).  Be aware that improvements are very expensive. Budget at least 30-50% more of your time and money to any anticipated improvement. In this market tradesmen are both difficult to find and expensive to hire.
  •  Look at any additions carefully.  If there is an addition at the rear of the property changing the building footprint from a rectangle to an “L” chances are it’s an addition. Many additions were built by homeowners who did not obtain construction permits. Like non-permitted construction in item 1 the results range from pretty good to very bad. Often additions are well built yet poorly integrated with the rest of the house. A common defect is when the addition is built “into the slope”: roof and exterior water is allowed to drain into the crawl space or basement causing moisture and termite damage.
  •  Has the underfloor area been excavated?  In an effort to increase living space many homeowners looked to the crawl space or dugout basement (the small space used for the Read More…

Good Growth vs Neighborhood NIMBYs

Posted on 31. Dec, 2012 by in Intown Neighborhoods

The Frazer Mess: When trying to be a good neighbor becomes impossible.

The Frazer center is a non-profit operating on the former estate of Equifax founder Cator Woolford. Frazer operates a school for adults with Cerebral Palsy, daycare for CP and “normal” infants and children, a low-cost hospitality house for area hospital patient relatives and an event garden. There’s a 20 acre old growth forest too; the Lungs of Lake Claire. Frazer is the big dog, the largest and wealthiest property in the neighborhood.

Consumer or Citizen?

The mess began in 2010 when the Frazer board started expanding operations.

They increased the size and scope of the childcare program, upgraded adult services, renovated and added hospitality housing and transformed the garden into a thing of beauty.

The expansion process led to some over-reaching on Frazer’s part. More events coupled with less noise enforcement got out of hand. Increased traffic turned a quiet street into a less-quiet one.

This led to a quite understandable push-back by the neighbors. The occasional wedding was one thing-a series of events broadcasting recorded music all weekend another. School traffic, especially the buses, were a hazard. An ad hoc group sprang up to Read More…

ITP and OTP in the ATL

Posted on 05. Nov, 2012 by in Intown Neighborhoods

Virtuous Cycle:  At the DeKalb Neighborhood Summit free FOG (Fats, Oils and Grease) containers and pickup.  Sign up online at www.curbsidebiofuel.com
Beltline Saturday:  Easy RR grade from Dekalb Ave. to Monroe at the foot of 10th.  Couple of thousand parents, kids, joggers, couples, runners Read More…