Tim Garvey | Winchester Real Estate, Medford Real Estate, Woburn Real Estate, Stoneham Real Estate


Living in an old home is like reading an old book. When you walk through an old home you can't help but notice that there is history right within the walls. Small differences, like low height of the doorknobs, take you back in time to when we were a different society with different needs and expectations. Just like old books, however, old homes sometimes require extra care to keep in good condition. Don't get me wrong--when people boast that their old home has "strong bones" they could certainly be right. But there are some things you might have to cope with living in an old home that aren't a huge concern in a new one. If you're thinking about purchasing an old home, read this list of things you should be aware of before you buy. It isn't meant to deter, just to inform so that you're ready for the challenges you'll face when that day comes. And, if you truly love the experience of living in an old house, the work will be well worth it.

Old doesn't mean decrepit

Let's go back to our book analogy from earlier. If you have a book from the late 1800s that has been stored in a dry place, hasn't been thrown around much, and always had conscientious owners who respected it enough to repair the binding when needed, your book will be in great shape. The same is true for old homes. Oftentimes, it only takes a quick glance around the home and a peek at the foundation to see if the home has been taken care of. Just because a house was built in the 1800s doesn't mean it hasn't been renovated periodically and maintained properly.

Warning signs

If you are thinking of buying an old home, here are some things you should look out for before you sign the dotted line. Don't forget to have the home inspected by a professional as well, since they will give you a much more detailed analysis of the problems a home might have.
  • Ancient HVAC. Aside from being prone to malfunctioning, old heating and ventilation systems could also prove to be dangerous and inefficient. Be sure to have a professional inspect the entire system.
  • Pests big and small. Over the years homes begin to develop vulnerabilities to ants, termites and other pests. Similarly, don't be surprised if you find mice, bats, or other furry creatures around if the home has been empty for a while.
  • Hazardous materials. The builders of yore were excellent craftsmen, but they were using (unbeknownst to them) dangerous materials like lead and asbestos. If you have small children, even more of a reason to make sure the home is free of hazardous materials. Part of this check should also be for mold growth.
  • Inefficiencies. Old windows and poor insulation walls also tend to be issues with some old homes. Find out what the monthly utility bills cost to see how much work you'll need to do to bring them up to date.
  • Foundation issues. Eventually, nature prevails. Foundation cracks and deterioration are common problems in old homes, especially in climates like the Northeast with freezing temperatures and lots of snow, rain, and wind.

Buying a new home comes with a lot of new responsibilities that may have been previously taken care of by your landlords or parents. When you're out shopping for things like tools and cleaning supplies for your new home it's mostly guesswork as to which items you really need. Couple that with the fact that department stores are now filled with endless selections and it becomes almost impossible not to waste money or miss an important item for your home. Users on the popular online forum Reddit were recently asked what the most useful item for their house turned out to be that they didn't think of beforehand. Their answers, which we'll go through below, serve as great advice. If you're a new homeowner or will be soon, read on for these important household buys:
  • A step stool and a ladder You'll use both of these quite often, especially when you're moving. In my house there are a few top kitchen cabinets that are just out of reach, so I'm constantly pulling out the step stool. However, they're also useful around the house like in closets or reaching high spots while cleaning and painting. Equally important is a ladder. You won't want to mess around climbing on unsteady chairs for changing lightbulbs or smoke detector batteries. Plus you'll need one for access to the roof of your shed or house.
  • A whole-house fan or air conditioner When you move into a house, especially in the summer months, you're going to want to stay cool while setting up and cleaning your new home. A great way to bring lots of fresh air into the house is to use a whole house fan which draws air into the attic and therefore causing air from outside to flow into your open windows. Window fans are a suitable substitute, so long as they have an exchange mode to bring air in and out.
  • A bucket and a wheel barrow Both of these items are easily overlooked but will be invaluable when it comes to cleaning your house and maintaining your yard. Reddit user shuggins points out some of the myriad uses for a bucket: mopping the floor, pulling weeds, watering plants, washing the car, washing the dog, and even turn it upside down for a stool when you need a break from all those chores. And in the unfortunate event that someone is sick and queasy, a bucket can be a lifesaver.
  • Drain stops and screens It won't take long for your drain pipes to get clogged up with food in the kitchen and hair in the bathroom without drain screens. Plus, having a drain stop for your sink will turn it into--you guessed it--a bucket! Buckets are the best.
  • New locks  Who knows who has copies of the keys in and around your home. It's important to change all the locks, including padlocks to your shed. There are many horror stories of new homeowners getting all settled in only to be burgled soon after.
  • Batteries all sizes Reddit user typhoidmarry accurately describes the necessity for extra batteries when they write, "Your smoke detectors battery WILL die at 2am. It will." Play it safe and get extra batteries for your all of your electronics to avoid frustration and rage when you can't watch Netflix because your remote battery died.

For some people, their bicycle is their main method of transportation. Whether it's commuting to work or getting groceries, a bicycle can be an excellent way to save money, stay in shape, and enjoy the ride to your destination. For those of us who live too far away from work to cycle there, bicycles can still be a fun activity to that also helps you stay in shape. Just like your car, your bicycle requires regular maintenance to keep your rides smooth and safe. Local bike shops will be able to give your bicycle a tune-up or make difficult repairs. However, there are a lot of maintenance tasks that can be done right from home with your average toolkit. In this article, we'll go over basic bike maintenance that you can do in your driveway that will keep your bike in good  working condition.

Safety Check

Before you ride your bike, it's good to perform a basic safety check in your driveway before leaving your home. You'll want to check:
  • tires, to see if they're properly inflated, have enough tread, and don't have any cracks
  • brakes, to see if both the front and rear brakes work properly and that they're touching the rims when pressed
  • chain and shifters, to make sure the chain is lubricated and that the shifters are functioning correctly

Cleaning and lubrication

Cleaning your bicycle regularly isn't just a matter of aesthetics. A clean bike is a safe bike and the process of cleaning helps you discover any potential issues with the bicycle. On a monthly basis, clean the frame and rims of your bike with a cloth. Look for any cracks in the frame, loose bolts or screws on any of the mechanisms. Cleaning and lubricating the chain of your bike will significantly increase its lifespan and will prevent your chain from malfunctioning when you're out on a ride. First, turn your bike upside down so that it is balanced on the sea and handlebars. Wipe off the grime that has built up on the chain with a rag. If necessary, use a degreaser and a small brush to scrub any remaining residue from between the links, then wipe down the chain once more. Apply a drop of chain lubricant to each chain link while you rotate the pedals. While you have the lubricant out, also be sure to apply a small amount to the brake levers an derailleurs (the part that moves the chain onto the different sized sprockets to change gears). Also lubricate the brake cables and gear cables to make sure they can move freely and do not freeze up.

Repairs and replacement

Sometimes, in spite of proper care and maintenance you're going to beed to make some repairs to your bicycle. The most common fixes you'll need to make are changing flat tires and replacing worn brake pads, and chain issues like a skipping link. Depending on your bicycle, you can often find tutorials online that will help you find the tools you need to make these repairs from home. Otherwise, you could always give business to your local bike shop.

House title search fees, mortgage application fees, mortgage insurance, homeowners insurance, property taxes and homeowners association fees are only a part of the cost of owning a house. There is also the mortgage principal, home appraisal fee, closing costs, home inspection fees and mortgage interest to pay after you buy a house. Facing all of these and other costs takes thought.

Three simple steps to home ownership and lower mortgage payments

By preparing to buy and maintain a house, you could save big over the short and the long term. Get creative and you will see that there are many ways to save for your home. Three simple ways that you can save for your home are to:

  • Open a home savings account. Do this at least two years before you buy a house. Set up an automatic deposit so that money goes into the account each time you receive your payroll check.
  • Use money from your bonus check or tax return to invest in your house down payment. Start doing this early, as soon as you graduate from high school, and you could save several thousand if not tens of thousands of dollars.
  • Work a second job or freelance. Invest all of the earnings from this work into your home savings account. You could sharpen your talents by using these abilities to generate income. For example, if you have design skills, you could start your own web design or marketing design company and use earnings from sales to build a down payment on a house.

Splitting the down payment with another adult you buy a house with is another way to make smart house buys. Hold yourself and other adults who will be living in the house responsible for making their portion of the monthly mortgage. Split house maintenance costs as well.

Get serious about saving money to buy your first house

As soon as you decide to buy a house, start taking steps to save for your home. For example, if you know that you want to buy a house two years after you graduate from college, start saving for a down payment while you're still in college or as soon as you graduate.

Learn how to build and manage a budget. Depending on how disciplined you are, you might benefit from working with a line item budget. If you live at home, slowly work your way up to saving enough each month to cover the mortgage on the type of house you want to buy.

Do this for two years and you could save a healthy down payment on a house. Focus on what it takes to get your monthly mortgage payments down to where they only require 25% or less of your total net income and you be financially comfortable throughout the home buy and maintenance process.

You might even have enough money to add one or more rooms onto your house, increasing the total value of your property. This single step could position you to yield a profit should you decide to sell your house.


There are more cleaning supplies on the market than ever before. If you walk down the cleaning section of Target you'll find an array of brooms, scrubbers, and solutions that are all variations on the same simple ideas. Furthermore, these products have begun capitalizing on single-use components like a sweeper with throwaway pads or disposable dusters. All of these expenses add up and before you know it you're spending up to $70 each month just on cleaning supplies. Fortunately, many frugal consumers have noticed this trend and have come up with creative ways to save money on cleaning. In this article, we'll cover some frugal cleaning products and solutions that will save you a ton of money at the checkout line.

Sweeping, dusting, and mopping

Let's face it, the Swiffer is a great invention. It mops, sweeps, and dusts without the mess of a bucket of water. Plus it's lightweight and versatile making it useful for many surfaces around the home. The down side? Having to buy all of those expensive replacement pads. If you're like me, you feel a twinge of guilt whenever you throw out at item that seems wasteful. For me, cleaning supplies are the epitome of wastefulness. So, instead of using the throwaway pads you could do a a few things. First, you could buy a reusable pad online. Some are designed to fit various sweepers. Alternatively, there are some cloths that you can buy at your local dollar store that will fit onto your sweeper just fine. Once one gets dirty, put the next one on and sink wash them all when you're done. The other option is to knit or crochet your own sweeper cover. There are lots of patterns online that will help you get started, plus a hand-made cloth adds more meaning to the mundane work of sweeping the house. For those spots you don't dust with your sweeper-duster (like a TV, or the tops of picture frames), you could always dust with your used dryer sheets that you'd otherwise just toss in the trash. Keep them in a bag in your cabinet so you remember to use them.

Go paperless

Paper towels and napkins are always expensive and seldom on sale. Plus, all that paper usage does a number on the environment. Instead of reaching for a paper towel at dinner, keep a stack of microfiber cloths, handkerchiefs, or hand towels. When this isn't possible, like in the case of a big cookout, use choose-a-size paper towels to get more usage out of a roll. And speaking of choosing a size, the next time you buy sponges or "magic erasers," cut them in half to double the length of time you can use them.

Cleaning solutions

Making your own cleaning solutions has many benefits. First, you get to save money because the supplies tend to be cheap, household items. Second, you get to avoid all of the harsh chemicals that are often added to commercial cleaners, helping your health and the environment. Third, you can make them in bulk and not have to worry about them running out. Recipes for homemade cleaning solutions and air fresheners are abundant online. In general, however, they rely on a few simple ingredients: water, vinegar, baking soda, and some type of citrus like lemons, limes, or oranges.



Loading