The Sherlock Holmes of Raccoon Infestations Wins a Battle Against Nature!

You may remember that I was inadvertently running a wildlife park in my Germantown home earlier this year. At the time, I was still holding out hope that the first wildlife company I hired would manage to trap the raccoons living in the walls of my house. I wanted it to work out, because the dude they sent was so sweet, and because they were cheaper than any of the other companies I found. But after several attempts to trap the raccoons, the company basically shrugged and walked away.

I talked to the owner of the attached twin again. We agreed that his handyman would come out at night, when the raccoons were marauding somewhere outside the house, and close up the chimney we thought the raccoons were using to enter the house. But the handyman understandably kept postponing a project that would require him to climb out on the roof late at night. The tenants in the house next door weren’t complaining about nocturnal noises, so the landlord wasn’t very motivated to follow up. And since we were still hearing the animals at all hours of the night over on our side of the party wall, we were pretty sure the babies weren’t leaving the den yet. Closing up the chimney while the mother was outside might not be a good idea. We had a horror of accidentally shutting the babies up in the walls of our house.

Then it got worse.

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Controversy: Philadelphia Salvage Company Posts Pics of Thief on Facebook

thirstythursdayoriginalRacked Philly’s Julie Davis tipped us off to a growing controversy surrounding Philadelphia Salvage Company, the lumberyard/ design firm/foundry/store/refinishers/restorers/etc. after they posted a photo to their Facebook page of a robber in police custody.

Some commenters say they’ll never shop at the store again or use the company for their work. Others commend them.

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Splendiferous Renovation: Abandoned Row Home Becomes Artist’s Eco-Friendly Paradise

With fraught conversation over vacant land and properties in the news almost every day, it’s gratifying to see the occasional example of what can be done when one individual decides to fight for a dilapidated building and turn it around.

Case in point: This creatively reinvented, highly livable two-bedroom home on a side street was just an abandoned corner rowhouse when a local photographer Jacob Hellman, a collagist and scholar of abandoned buildings, fell in love with it. He liked the location, in particular: One block from Fairmount Park, in a neighborhood some would call Strawberry Mansion but a realtor would call Brewerytown, the house is tucked away on a quiet street, across from an empty field, in an eerie but oddly soothing post-industrial landscape. He also liked the fact that it had a south-facing sidewall that would afford the opportunity down the line for passive solar heating modification.

Once he was able to buy the home, Hellman transformed it from shabby dereliction into one of the neighborhood’s most unique private homes.

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What Does It Cost to Remodel a Home in Philadelphia?

Houzz.com has a terrific infographic that allows users to see what it costs, on average, to remodel different rooms in a house–kitchen, dining room, etc.–and compare that price to other cities or states. For example, in the case of Philly kitchen redos, the average cost is around $35,000, which puts it in the top tier of kitchen renovations nationwide.

But other Philadelphia renovations are relatively inexpensive, like patio and landscaping. What does that say about our area? Could it be something, perhaps, about the number of day laborers who stand at Home Depot every morning waiting for work and are easily taken advantage of?

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Renovation Diary: Scott and Peggy Brehman’s Newtown Square Dairy Barn

If ever there were two people who know how to remake a space, it’s Scott and Peggy Brehman. Scott is co-owner of B&H Investment Properties, which has built and/or renovated more than 35 properties in the last 14 years. He has a particular facility with the challenges of historical buildings, including his personal home. Peggy owns Aubusson Home, a fabric and trimming store, so design, color choices and aesthetics come naturally to her.

Some of the most interesting adapted features of the above kitchen, according to Peggy: Read more »

Property’s Morning Obsession: k YODER Design’s Locust Street Baths

For its most recent project, Philadelphia architecture and interiors firm k YODER Design took on one of the most bedeviling renovation design challenges: the bathroom. How to make a place that’s filled with so many givens, and dedicated primarily to utility, sing aesthetically? And, harder yet, how to do so sustainably? Kevin Yoder’s modern eye has the aesthetic challenge nailed, but in this case he went further by employing Lithoverde, a recycled natural stone product for a sustainable bathroom renovation.

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Property’s Morning Obsession: Historic Farmhouse in Middletown Township

morning obsession logo Each morning we start the day with Property’s Morning Obsession—anything from staging to woodwork to the fragment of a building. Want to submit your morning obsession? Send us an email.

This historic farmhouse in Middletown Township, built in 1794, is the kind of home realtors often call a “handyman’s special” that just needs “a little TLC.” When said property is a dilapidated mess in a Philadelphia neighborhood that struggles to sell a home for $40,000, it seems like hype. But in this case, when the broker says the farmhouse is “a great opportunity to move in and modify as you go,” it really holds up.

It’s such a beautiful old home, with the kind of details people pay to have installed to give their new homes an old look. There’s the random-width hardwood floors, five fireplaces, built-ins galore, beamed ceilings and a library with a brick floor. Especially unique? That cooking hearth in the dining room. We can smell the chicken roasting now. DIYers could have an amazing time with this place, and in the end, it would be worth every sweat-equity penny. It’s going to be gorgeous.

More info: 411 OLD FORGE Rd MEDIA, PA 19063

The Most Expensive Home in East Mt. Airy Is a Terrific Renovation

Property’s Property of the Week: 500 Woodbrook Lane in East Mt. Airy


This 4 bedroom, 2.5 bath in East Mt. Airy was last purchased in February 2011 for $340,000 and is now selling, two years later, for $625,000. That makes it the most expensive home on the market in that area. Why? Upgrades and a canny renovation, my friends, with name brands to boot. In the kitchen there’s a cast iron farm sink, Carrara marble countertops and Italian porcelain tile floors. There’s two-zoned central air, a dressing room with built-in shelving, a master bath with dual marble sinks, as well as a powder room with gray walls and a chandelier that a new buyer probably can’t keep but that is a stroke of genius in the tiny space. There’s also a finished basement (currently home to some lonely midcentury furniture), a agarage, a fenced yard around landscaped grounds, and a porch. The whole house is 3,700 square feet of renewed and upgraded loveliness.
Open House: 3/10 12pm-2pm
More info: 500 Woodbrook Lane, Philadelphia PA 19119, listed by Elfant Wissahickon-Chestnut Hill

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