Photo by PoPville flickr user William E Heaton IV

“Dear PoPville,

I’m purchasing a new home and am in the market for a new home security system. The home is not pre-wired, so I’m gravitating towards a wireless system.

I’ve been reading a lot about some of the ‘smart’ security systems and SimpliSafe’s pricing structure seems intriguing (pay for hardware but minimal monthly cost with no long-term contract).

Does anyone have any suggestions for a quality system that won’t cost me and arm and a leg? I know I can always bundle a security system with my Comcast account, but I’m open to any and all suggestions. Thanks!”


“Dear PoPville,

We are certain we have bed bugs! Not too many…yet. A couple live ones today but no other real signs except for a some bites that have been going on for the last few weeks.

Not sure if they’re coming from one of our next door neighbors, which are both group houses (with landlords that aren’t rolling in dough) or from our frequent travel. Could have come in with our dog from boarding or the dog park… But the origin doesn’t matter as much as the solution – except the neighbors aren’t going to pay to remediate based on our experiences (nor should they) so any solution that costs a lot and leaves us open to reinfestation seems silly.

We are planning on bagging the box spring and mattress, washing and drying the hell out of bedding, vacuuming, etc etc. Seems like a decent path to at least try… (more…)

loud mad
Photo by PoPville flickr user Tim Brown

“Dear PoPville,

I live off Kansas and Missouri Ave in N. Petworth/Brightwood Park, and have a unique issue.

Last Saturday, construction workers came super early (not the issue, but annoying) and jackhammered a big hole in the street, presumably to access underground infrastructure. At the end of the day, they laid down those big thick metal plates you often see used to cover such sites. They haven’t been back since then, but I assume they’ll be back tomorrow since it seems Saturdays are the preferred work day for this site.

Over the course of the week, one of the metal plates loosened to the point that every time a car passes over it, it makes two loud bangs – one for the front wheels and one for the rear wheels. When a large vehicle (bus, trash truck) passes, it actually causes the ground/house to vibrate, and this is accompanied by a much larger “BOOM.” Missouri Ave. is a pretty major cross-city street with a lot of traffic, so the bangs can be as frequently as every second or two, depending on time of day.

My house is pretty close to the construction site, and the banging is slowly driving me crazy. (more…)

Photo by PoPville flickr user fromcaliw/love

“Dear PoPville,

A co-op neighbor of mine had a stroke some months ago, and I’d been helping him out. His medical condition deteriorated, and he disappeared. He’s now reemerged; I received a letter from the Dir. of Social Work at the in-patient healthcare facility where he presently resides. My neighbor can’t tell them much about his family, friends, contacts, etc., as his cognition has been affected, but he remembered enough to recall something similar to my first name, and my unit number. I spoke with the Director, and suggested that I could bring all his January – present day mail to the facility later this week (his mailbox door is broken and anyone can access it) so he can access it. Anybody care to share thoughts? Would this place me in legal hot water?”

Bay Projection Deck with Roof

“Dear PoPville,

I recently bought a home in Capitol Hill and see many small decks on top of Bay Projections in the area and on my street. I currently have access to the top of my own bay projection through my master bedroom window, but no deck. I’ve reached out to a few design/build contractors inquiring about permitting and building a small deck there, but have not heard back (maybe the job is too small?). Does anyone have any experience with this? I’d love any advice: how to get it done, how long it took, how much it cost, who you used, etc… Thanks for your time!

FYI only I live in zone district RF-1 / Ward 6 if that helps”

utility pole

A reader reports:

“Badly damaged utility pole at busy intersection of 12th and Monroe NE. I called it into 311 and emergency management but they pawned it off on Pepco. Surprised the city wouldn’t be at least a little concerned about a safety hazard like this. They told me to call Pepco. I ultimately convinced emergency management to take down the intersection info, but they didn’t suggest they would do anything.

To their credit, Pepco has an accessible emergency reporting line. I got to a human in under a minute, and they said they’d send someone to check it out. Still, strange for the city not to take the initiative once something like this is reported.”

clean roomate

“Dear PoPville,

My roommate is moving out, and I’m going to be looking for a new one. How can I find a roommate that’s actually clean? With my last search, I stressed that I like common areas clean, and explained that the photos with my ad were how clean I keep it normally (which was genuinely clean and uncluttered). Each person I was considering said that they liked it that clean as well, but I still ended up with a messy roommate. Is there a way to tell if someone is actually clean from the short time you meet them? I don’t know if I want to shell out for a weekly cleaning service, but are the only options that or living alone?”


“Dear PoPville,

I need to renew my license at the end of the month but am currently under contract to purchase a home with a closing date set for the end of next month.

Can/should I attempt to renew the license at the DMV with my (potentially) new address? Or might there be a way to get a temporary license while I’m in limbo between homes?

Any advice or past examples would be greatly appreciated!”

Photo by PoPville flickr user hellomarkers!

“Dear PoPville,

We’re planning to renovate the kitchen and master bathroom in our apartment and I’m wondering which features will add the most value and attract the most buyers. For example, is a shower/tub combo a must in a master bath or would people prefer a luxury shower instead? What about a double vanity vs a single? Will a gas stove be the most desirable? What counter top materials do people prefer? Any other must-haves in a modern kitchen/bath renovation that we wouldn’t typically think of? We obviously want to design the space to meet our needs and style, but we also want to keep in mind re-sell potential in the next 5-10 years.”