The Alhambra CondominiumsPosted by Nicole on June 12th, 2016

See Inside My Favorite Condo Building in Portland

The Alhambra, located at NW Irving St. and NW 20th Ave., has been my very favorite condo building in all of Portland since the first week I moved here… I used to go out of my way to walk by because I love this building so much.

The owners of 6 (of the 8) units were gracious enough to open their homes to a small tour on Friday evening, courtesy of the Architectural Heritage Center. I was fortunate enough to be able to see inside these amazing condos that I’ve been drooling over for years! See my entire album from the tour here.

My favorite kitchen at the Alhambra condosSemi-private balconies at the Alhambra

Affordable Disaster Supply KitPosted by Nicole on January 28th, 2016

Join Us in Gathering a Budget-Friendly Disaster Supply Kit!

We’re slowly gathering items for a 3-day disaster supply kit. Join us as we get items in small increments for a complete bin of emergency supplies. Each phase will be posted with a photo, a list of items, the cost of the items and an emergency tip or action item. Join us in this process so you can be ready when disaster strikes! Here are the first two phases:


-Large container for storing your kit – we chose a clear, 66 quart bin with latching lid (clear – so you don’t have to guess what’s inside!) $9
– 1 gallon of water 89 cents Disaster supply kit, phase one
– Flashlight $10
– Whistle $1
– Permanent marker $2
– Dietary supplements/electrolyte replacements $8
– 2 Ready-to-eat tuna packets $3 ($1.49 each)
– Can of beans $1
– Manual can opener $5

Total spent this phase: Approximately $40. Don’t be alarmed- this is the most expensive phase!

Phase One tip: Put food you would normally eat in your disaster kit. Your body will be stressed after an emergency so it’s best to eat things that your system is accustomed to.


Disaster supply kit, phase two

Disaster supply kit, phase two

– Toilet paper, 2 rolls $1.50
– Another gallon of water 89 cents
– Upset stomach meds $5
– Roll of antacids $1
– Hand sanitizer $2.49
– Hydrogen peroxide $1
– Isopropyl alcohol $1.25
– Tissues 89 cents
– Pain reliever $6 (Or free! See tip below.)

Total spent this phase: Approximately $20.

Phase Two tip: When you run across useful disaster kit items that are Buy One Get One Free at the store, buy one for your home, then get one FREE for your emergency supply kit!

Follow along on Home Gnome’s Facebook page for the next phases!

Five for Friday with Paris Group Realty!Posted by Nicole on January 15th, 2016

I was honored to be the guest on Five for Friday, a weekly blog post from Paris Group Realty. Paris Group is a wonderful group of amazing women who are sharp as tacks! Each Friday, they ask 5 questions of a person who works in the realm of homes. You won’t believe what I say about mold & mildew! Read the interview here.

Review Home Gnome on Angie’s List!Posted by admin on December 24th, 2015

Have you had a home inspection or radon testing through Home Gnome? Are you a real estate agent that we’ve worked with in the past? We finally have a central location for leaving reviews! Please leave us a review here on Angie’s List.

As always, real estate agents can save their clients $25 off the first inspection with me!

New on Redfin! Read Nicole’s Latest ReviewsPosted by admin on March 24th, 2015

I’m new on Redfin! Read my latest reviews right here. I really don’t like asking people for testimonials or reviews, but luckily Redfin does a great job of gathering them for their users. Redfin requires their real estate agents to provide information on every person involved in the transaction.

gnome redfin

Thanks Jennie, Trevor and Redfin! Visit my Redfin page here.

6 Reasons to Clean Your Furnace & DuctsPosted by admin on March 23rd, 2015

I recently had the ducts and furnace cleaned at my house. Why, you ask? Here are 6 reasons to clean your furnace & ducts:

1. The life of your furnace. Dirt slows down air movement and creates more resistance so that your furnace has to work harder, reducing the life of the equipment and ultimately costing you more money. This dirt gets stuck inside your ducts, furnace and a good portion gets stuck to your filter. (That means it is VERY important to change or clean your filter so that your furnace doesn’t have to work so hard to push the air through a filthy filter!)

2. Allergies and cleaner air. Even if you don’t have allergies, whatever is blowing around in the air can tickle your nose and get into your lungs. AaaaaahCHOO!

3. Breathe your own air. Especially if you’re moving into a new home, you don’t want to be breathing in someone else’s dust or dead skin, allergens/pollens, dirt and pet hair from 12 years ago. When years of build-up is camped out in your furnace and ducting, a lot of it can just be re-circulated into the air you breathe. Ewwwww!

4. Mold! Air has moisture. Moisture likes to stay in cozy areas. Cozy areas provide a nice home for mold. Where is pretty cozy in your house? Your heating ducts!

5. The secret is the filter. Have you done a remodeling project lately? Has there recently been road construction nearby your house? Any thing that increases particles in the air of your home means that at the very least, your filter probably needs to be changed. Those particles can fill up a filter faster than you think. Depending on how often you use your heating/cooling system,  the depth of your filter, your family’s daily life (smoking, allergies) and if you have pets, it should be changed every 1-3 months. When in doubt, change it out. It is MUCH cheaper to clean or change your filter regularly than to pay for a new furnace.

6. Less dust. If you’re like me, you have little time or energy left after a busy week to clean. Let your filter do the work- you can sit back and relax.

The following are photos of my furnace blower and return air duct the before and after it was cleaned. If I inspect a house and I see a dirty blower or ducts, I recommend cleaning. If I don’t see maintenance records for the furnace, I recommend a complete service.

Furnace blower after cleaning

Furnace blower after cleaning

Furnace blower before cleaning

Furnace blower before cleaning

clean return air duct

clean return air duct

Return duct before cleaning

Return duct before cleaning

Merry Everyone!Posted by admin on December 23rd, 2014

Wishing you all a merry holiday season and an even better 2015! Thanks to each one of you who have referred business to me, gave me the gift of kind words or encouragement, listening to me vent, made cake pops, sat on a golf course with me on a summer day, offered advice, edited copy, photographed someone who’s clearly not a model, written an unsolicited testimonial or positive “thank you” email, given me feedback (positive and negative) on my reports, answered my questions or even just smiled at me on the street. I cannot express my gratitude enough. Cheers to another amazing year!gnome santa inspection hat

Fun Radon Facts (at least in my opinion)Posted by admin on November 11th, 2014

I attended the radon presentation at the Architectural Heritage Center this past weekend- what a great event! AHC always puts on great educational programs and this one provided some fun radon facts. If you don’t already know about radon, it’s an odorless, colorless, tasteless radioactive gas that occurs naturally in our soil and water. Buildings trap escaping radon, forcing us to breathe it unknowingly. Radon is the #2 cause of lung cancer among non-smokers. Levels of radon are different for every home. If you don’t know what the radon levels are in your home, get a home testing kit or call me and I will test for you!

I learned so much about radon that I thought you might want to nerd out with me… here we go:

  • radon decay chain wikipediaThe chemical element radon comes from uranium & thorium, which decays into radium and then into radon. Uranium and thorium are the two most common radioactive elements here on earth.
  • 20% of U.S. deaths are due to radon-related lung cancer. Your risk is 5x greater if you are a smoker.
  • Radon was a food additive in the early 1900s! There were also radon caverns where you could go to breathe in radon… yikes!
  • Newer homes are more tightly sealed (for energy conservation) and are potentially keeping more radon in homes.
  • Granite countertops emit very low levels of radon.
  • Lower levels of radon are best, obviously… though it’s quite impossible to completely get rid of radon. Outdoor air is approximately .4 pCi/l  (that’s picocuries per liter in case you were wondering). The average U.S. home is about 1.3 pCi/l, but this varies from house to house! Your neighbor might have very high levels and yours may be low or vice versa.  The Surgeon General recommends radon reduction for homes that measure 4 pCi/l or more and you should consider radon reduction for levels between 2 and 4 pCi/l.
  • 1 in 8 homes nationally tests high in radon.
  • 1 in 15 homes in Oregon tests high in radon.
  • 1 in 4 Portland homes tests high in radon.
  • Areas that have highly permeable soils and/or have had landslides generally have higher radon levels. Alameda ridge, north Portland, east Portland, Sherwood/Newberg, Lakeview and Clark Co. (Washington) have a higher risk for high levels of radon due to the geology of those areas.
    Radon by zip code, Oregon

    Radon by zip code, Oregon

  • An example of the seasonal effects of radon can be higher levels when it rains- the water seeping into the ground pushes radon up out of the soil.
  • HEPA air filters are NOT effective in reducing radon levels in your home.
  • Radon testing can be long-term (3-12+ months) or short-term (2-4 days). If you have a long-term radon monitor plugged in in your home, remember- the equipment needs to be re-calibrated annually!
  • There are several ways (both passive and active) to reduce the radon levels in your home. Talk to a professional about the most effective system for your situation. If you are constructing a new home, install a passive system!
  • It is best to test for radon in the winter months while windows and doors remain mostly closed.

Still want to know more? Check out the EPA website or the Portland, Oregon radon website. And watch this Oregon Field Guid Radon video.

Home Inspection Testimonial Email from R.M.Posted by admin on November 6th, 2014

Probably the most difficult part of my job is the news that clients’ hearts are broken about a house they fell in love with… But I know that this is much more heartbreaking for those clients. I received the following email from a couple that I’d recently done a home inspection for. It makes me so proud of my business but it totally breaks my heart too:

“I wanted to write you a quick note to say thank you for your thorough inspection…. The roof ended up needing to be totally replaced, which the sellers were unwilling to do. Although we are bummed that this did not end up being the right house for us, we are so thankful to you for your thorough inspection and we will definitely use you when we find another great house that will hopefully be ours. Thank you again!” -R.M., Portland, Oregon

…But imagine if they had bought a house with a bad roof that they had to pay to replace themselves.

I wish I could warn home buyers before their house search begins that the home buying process can be emotional and will probably hurt. Sometimes you don’t get the house you fall in love with (and it hurts more and more the further you get into the process of buying- I’ve been through it myself), whether it’s because of something from the inspection, something with funding or any number of scenarios. Whatever it is, it’s usually out of your control and causes heartbreak for everyone involved- including me!

The good news: it’s ok. The house that was meant for you is out there and that one wasn’t it. There is a better, more perfect home waiting for you around the corner. Literally. Sometimes patience is painful. But the wait is worth it. I promise.

Fix-It Fairs in PortlandPosted by admin on October 28th, 2014

I love events like this… you show up, get free information, classes, repairs and prizes and leave knowing that you are a better homeowner. What could be better than that? The Fix-It Fair is a FREE City of Portland event where you can learn simple ways to save money and connect with resources. Join your neighbors and talk to the experts about how to spend less and stay healthy. Fix-It Fairs in Portland are coming up:

November 22, 2014photo
Parkrose High School
12003 NE Shaver St, Portland, OR 97220

January 24, 2015
Rosa Parks Elementary School
8960 N Woolsey Ave, Portland, OR 97203

February 21, 2015
David Douglas High School
1001 SE 135th Ave, Portland, OR 97233

What will you find and learn at a Fix-It Fair? Ongoing exhibits and hourly workshops on such topics as:

  • Water and energy savings
  • Safe and healthy home
  • Food and nutrition
  • Neighborhood and community resources
  • Recycling
  • Weatherizing your home
  • Gardening and growing your own food
  • Yard care and composting
  • Transportation


  • Free lead blood testing
  • Free giveaways
  • Hourly door prizes
  • Free professional childcare
  • Free lunch
  • Free minor bike tune-ups and flat tire repair for students and families

For more information or to receive email notification for future Fairs call 503-823-4309 or email

Visit Fix-It Fair on Facebook to get more information from them and the community.

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