Volume 53, Issue 3

I moved here from a city whose outlying municipalities have pretty strict rules about what can and cannot be built and, furthermore, how the built environment is maintained over time (see footnote).   Those rules are in place not only for the health, safety and welfare of citizens but in small part, to help maintain property values in neighborhoods. So, as a (former) midwestern property owner, it should come as no surprise that I pay attention to the number of blighted properties in my neighborhood and eagerly follow the construction of houses, like the one pictured above.

That said, I’m reasonably certain this house would not have received a building permit where I come from, let alone a certificate of occupancy, for its lack of windows, alone.

Also, you’ll note that the installation of siding is not complete on this house under construction: I can tell you from personal observation that it has not been complete for some time. Is that cause for concern? Probably not… unless you live in the community of Burnsville, Minnsota, where failure to finish installation of your siding can land you in prison! I’m not kidding  (nor am I suggesting that it makes sense).

This prompted me to look into the property maintenance requirements for New Orleans. Not surprisingly,my search came up relatively empty.  However, I did find an interesting research study noting the creation of the Office of Recovery and Development Administration (ORDA) and the City’s relative lack of code and ordinance enforcement when it comes to property maintenance.

Should I be calling the authorities?

(Ha, this time, I’m kidding).

Volume 52, Issue 3

My husband and I purchased a home here in New Orleans – one that was renovated in 2002 and, fortunately, relatively unaffected by Hurricane Katrina. It is our first home and the degree of maintenance, as I’m sure most of you can imagine, is fairly high. As I continue to poke around and get a better understanding of construction and installation methods, I am amazed: I’ve gone through more expanding foam sealant in the past few months than I care to admit! We had an energy audit done on the home and the result of the blower door test was such that no baseline could properly be established: we could feel air flowing through holes in the brick fireplace mortar! This made me wonder where else there might be a “breach” in the exterior envelope’s air tightness only to learn that there is no exterior sheathing on the house! In talking with a co-worker, I was introduced to an interesting concept in old home retrofitting – an except of which is below… (improved image coming soon)