Archive for the 'Localism' Category

Home Sales for Lake of the Pines, Ca. in 2013

said on April 8th, 2013 filed under: Lake of the Pines, Localism

Home sales for Lake of the Pines, Ca. in 2013.

Let’s dispense with anecdotal examples. Let’s swerve around wishful thinking.  Let’s take an honest look at the hard evidence–actual sales of homes at Lake of the Pines, California.

For this analysis, we’ll compare sales data from the Nevada County Association of Realtors for the first quarter of 2013. This analysis shows the “average” for non lakefront homes as there weren’t any lakefronts sold during the first quarter.

Number of homes sold                                             26

Average Days on the Market (DOM)                     81

Asking Price at time of sale                                 $252,423

Asking Price per square foot                                   $141.71

Actual Sold Price                                                  $244,297
Percent sold price to asking price                           97%

The average size of homes sold                                1716 sq ft

Average High sold                                                     $495,000

Average Median sold                                                 $207,750

Average Low sold                                                       $124,000

This analysis of home sales for Lake of the Pines, Ca. in 2013 will probably look different in the next quarter. Currently there aren’t any homes for sale in Lake of the Pines under $200,000. The market is picking up and home prices are beginning to rise too.




posted by // No Comments »

Lake of the Pines Aerial View

said on April 2nd, 2013 filed under: Localism

Lake of the Pines Aerial View.  Want to see a cool photo of Lake of the Pines?

This photo was taken by our pal, Phil Green, who took it from an ultra-light while he was soaring over our beautiful community.

posted by // 1 Comment »

Lake of the Pines Easter Egg Hunt

said on March 30th, 2013 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Lake of the Pines, Localism, Whimsy


Lake of the Pines Easter Egg Hunt, or . . .


I Married the Easter Bunny!

There must have been a record number of children at the annual Easter Egg Hunt.

By the time I arrived, the first wave of toddlers had already completed their mad dash to egg satiation, and the second wave, the middle-aged ruffians were lining up.

The star of course is the Easter Bunny herself.

Hmmm, those ears . . . ?

That nose . . . ?

It all looks so familiar.  If only I could get a look at that cute little cotton tail, I would know for sure.

Yes!  It is her.  Shhhhhhh!  Do not tell a soul under 14 years old.  That’s CJ Jenkins handing out sweets and hugs.

I married the Easter Bunny!

posted by // No Comments »

Pump Up Septic Systems

said on March 22nd, 2013 filed under: Localism

Pump Up Septic Systems.

Yes, here’s another poo blog.  But this one has dramatic twists.  It’s a four-chamber septic system that pumps the poo uphill . . . and it’s broken.  Yay!  Conflict.  Suspense.  Heroes!

Here’s a sketch of how the pump up system works.

The first two chambers of the system comprise a standard two-chamber 1500 gallon concrete septic tank buried in the ground.  Let’s look down into the first chamber, the one closest to the house where the “solids” are “processed” and separated from the liquids.  “Processing” means that ecstatic  little bacteria eat the stuff that flows downhill into the tank from your toilet.  But the bacteria have to poo also, don’t they?  I know you are dying to know where all the bacteria poo goes.  It can’t just disappear.  There’s some law about the “conservation of mass” or something like that.  The clever bacteria just transform people poo into bacteria poo in the form of gas.  Farts.  Where does the gas go?  Have you ever noticed those vent pipes that stick up out of the roof of your house.  If you put your nose to one and inhale deeply, guess what you’re gonna whiff?  Farts.  Bacteria farts.

But I digress.

We were looking down into the first chamber, the solid processing chamber, the icky one.

Wait!  What’s that?  Eeeeuuuwww!  It’s not poo.  It’s . . . roots.  A mass of compressed, impenetrable, poo-infused roots.  How did those get in there?  Two reasons.

  • the home owner planted a redwood tree next to the septic tank (don’t plant trees next to your septic tank)
  • the homeowner neglected to provide regular maintenance to his septic system (service your septic system every 5 years)

What are we going to do?  We’ll take our trusty Crust Buster (don’t you love that name?) and start hacking away at the root mass from the top.  But, guess what?  Somebody is actually going to squeeze down in there and cut it away by hand.  Who?  Me?  No way.  You?  I didn’t think so.  One of the septic guys.  Our hero.  Do you think he is going to charge you a bunch of extra money for this inexpressibly filthy job?  I would.

OK, sometime later, a thoroughly pissed-off septic guy crawls back out of the hole.  On to the second chamber!  Ta Da!

This is the liquids chamber, the second chamber, that is separated from the (now “clean”) first chamber by a baffle.  The separated liquids flow under the baffle into the second chamber.  At today’s inspection, this second chamber is fine.  Whew!

(That white pipe in the photo is the business end of the vacuum hose that the  technicians use to suck all the “juice” up from the tank and into the tanker truck.)

When these liquids, aptly called “grey water, reach the near-top of this second chamber, they flow out of a pipe, downhill, into the leach field.


Except, on this property, the only suitable place to locate the leach field is several hundred feet away from the house . . . uphill.  So the grey waters flow downhill just a few feet away into a third chamber, the pump up chamber.

Here, in the pump up chamber, the grey water rises until it triggers a motor that pumps the fluids uphill.  This chamber, and the pumping mechanism of floats and motor, is in good shape.  Whew, again.

Now, cross your fingers that the fourth chamber is OK.

At first glance, this chamber seems fine.  We septic gurus don’t call this a “chamber.”  It’s a distribution box or “D box.”  The grey water comes in on one side and flows out a pipe on the other side, downhill,  into the leach field.  Simple.  Like I said, the D box looks OK.  But there is a crucial test to perform.  We are going to take a garden hose and pump a lot of water up into the D box and out into the leach field to make sure that the leach field can accept a large amount of fluid without backing up. We’ll insert the hose into the outlet “T” of the second chamber.

If the leach field can not accept the required infusion . . . we have trouble, potentially big trouble.

Uh oh!  The water is flooding the D-box and flowing out onto the ground . . . not into the leach field.  Sewage is flowing out onto the ground.  Yuck.  Either the leach lines are blocked or broken . . . or the leach field itself is saturated or otherwise unable to take the effluent.  In the first case, damaged leach lines, we may be able to inexpensively repair them for hundreds of dollars.  But if the leach field itself has failed . . . we are looking at thousands of dollars, perhaps many thousands of dollars,. You read that right.  Thousands. 

Or what? Or eventually have your house condemned and your certificate of occupancy revoked by the county.  You simply can not pour sewage out on the ground.

But this is the topic for another exciting blog “When Leach Fields Fail!”

Our story today has a happier ending.  The excellent septic company, consulting with the county engineer, identified broken and blocked leach lines and . . . repaired the system for only hundreds of dollars.

And because they did such a good job for my clients, I’m going to give them a plug right here.  Urke Septic out of Grass Valley, California.  They’re the best.

Call them at 530-274-3902.

Septic system repaired and certified by Urke . . . let’s sell this country home!



posted by // No Comments »

Grass Valley Home For Sale on 5 Acres

said on March 19th, 2013 filed under: Country Property, Grass Valley, Localism

Grass Valley Home for Sale on 5 Acres.  Don’t you deserve a Sweet Country Retreat?

Beautifully maintained and recently updated country home sitting on 4.99 acres.

This home features 3-4 bedrooms, 3 full baths, indoor laundry and a downstairs suite with private entrance.

The outdoor boasts beautiful local views of the wooded area which can be seen from the wrap around deck.

There is a workshop, spa, chicken coop + chickens, a dog run and a peaceful fountain.

Isn’t it time you treated yourself to the serenity of country life?

posted by // 1 Comment »

Oh Wow! Home for Sale on Lake of the Pines Golf Course

said on March 19th, 2013 filed under: Auburn, Lake of the Pines, Localism

Oh Wow!   Large knoll top home for sale on Lake of the Pines Golf Course with filtered lake views.

Everything in this gracious home is immaculate and elegant, light and bright.

Three-car garage, plenty of extra parking, plus large Tuff shed on 1/2 acre.  Romantic master suite, bay windows, two fireplaces, formal dining room, expansive kitchen with breakfast nook filled with sunshine.

Impeccably maintained, fresh as a daisy.

Exceptional home with all of the Lake of the Pines amenities.  Enjoy bocce ball, tennis, golf, water skiing, fishing, sailing, pickleball, and a rich and varied social life.

How about coming along for a brief video tour?


posted by // 1 Comment »

Enter the CRAWLSPACE . . . if you dare!

said on March 18th, 2013 filed under: Localism, Real Estate Nuts and Bolts

Enter the CRAWLSPACE . . . if you dare.

Abandon Hope, All Ye Who Enter Here!

Crawlspaces are damp, dark, and cold.  Most people do not like slithering around inside of them, underneath all the weight of the building, where unknown THINGS drip, and crawl, and scurry.  Spiders, and rats, and snakes, Oh My!


But if you want to feel the pulse of the house, get a sense of how it’s running,  you need to peek under the floor.  Follow me beneath a typical home in northern California, and we will see what we can see.  Don’t be scared.  I’ll hold your hand.  Shhhh!  What’s that?

It looks like something you would find in a haunted house.  Nah, it’s just the plastic they wrap around heating and air conditioning ducts.  It has a tendency to deteriorate  if exposed to sunlight, even the narrow shafts of sunlight coming in through the foundation vents.  Or maybe some CREATURE shredded it . . . and maybe that CREATURE is still here?  Boogah! Boogah! Boogah!  Probably not.  The fix?  Just re-wrap it with more insulation or plastic or replace the entire tattered section.  No problem.

Moving deeper into the CRAWLSPACE.

Now this is a terrifying problem.  CELLULOSE DEBRIS!  Right there on the dirt.  Wait.  What is that, cellulose debris?  It’s anything made from a tree, and that includes wood, paper, cardboard, twigs, toothpicks, furniture, anything.  Got to get rid of that stuff.  Why?  TERMITES.  The little insectoid house-eaters love cellulose.  Stacking lumber, packing boxes and other forest products on the ground is just like ringing the dinner bell.

What is this?  Docktor Frankenstein’s laboratory?  I’m not sure.  It’s some kind of owner-built clustermess of a piping contraption waiting patiently to spring a leak and flood the crawlspace.  Really, Mr. Homeowner, hire a PLUMBER.

SNAKES!  No wait.  Not snakes.  Just television or communication cable lying around on the ground.  This is, unfortunately, typical of cable installation, sloppy and hasty.  It’s not a dangerous situation because there’s no significant current flowing the cables, but they get snagged and pulled lose (“Ethel, what just happened to the TV?”), and frankly, they look . . . unkempt.

Speaking of sloppy.  What the heck is this?  C’mon peeps, you can’t be leaving foundation posts just . . . floating in air like a GHOST.  Check the level and plumb, then install a new, correctly-sized post.

Now here’s a scary word . . . EFFLORESCENCE!  It’s in the same chemical family as . . . ECTOPLASM.  Well, that may be stretching it a bit.

Efflorescence is caused when water seeps through concrete and deposits soluble salts, most often calcium hydroxide.  It can be removed, sometimes by scrubbing or applying acid, or both, but here in the crawlspace, why bother.  There’s nothing harmful about efflorescence by itself.  But it’s never by itself.  Efflorescence is caused by moisture intrusion, and you definitely do not want that!  Correcting moisture problems in the crawlspace is the topic of another article, so all I’ll say here is that the best cure is prevention, stopping the water before it ever gets into the crawlspace.

Here you can see where water is getting into the crawlspace from the uphill side of the house and actually carving a little rivulet as it burbles merrily downstream.  I wonder where it is going?

The water is flowing into THE PIT OF DAMPNESS AND DOOM.  This is the downhill corner of the crawlspace.  Not good.  What can be done?  First, as mentioned above, try to prevent water from ever getting into the crawlspace, but that is not always possible, even with proper exterior drainage and grading.  If water DOES enter and flows into the PIT OF DAMP AND DOOM, be sure you encourage it to keep right on flowing.  In this situation you could first try installing a PASSIVE DRAIN.  Rent a concrete hole-cutter and drill a three or four inch hole through the foundation so that most of the water just pours out the downhill side.  Install a grate over the hole to keep critters from using it as a front door.  Better yet, extend a drain pipe from the hole so that the water moves well away from your foundation.

If you want a more elaborate cure, then you can install a SUMP PUMP  in this corner.  Obviously this PIT is a natural catch-basin, so putting in a sump pump is easy . . . and not very expensive.  The pumps cost about $200 and with a basin, switch, drain line, and a bit of circuitry put in by a LICENSED ELECTRICIAN, you can have your sump just pumping away for $300-400.  How much water can a sump pump pump?  Oh, about 4,000 gallons an hour.

Is there anything GOOD we can say about this crawlspace?  Sure.  For one thing, it’s WELL-INSULATED, tidy and professional.

Then you can admire the adequate VENTILLATION.

I have to tell you that ventillation, though required by County building code, has become controversial in some areas.  In very humid climates, not northern California by the way, foundation vents actually invite that drippy air into the crawlspace and INCREASE the moisture levels, creating an environment that cultivates mold and fungus growth.  In very cold climates, those foundation vents allow frigid air to blow into the crawlspace, freezing water pipes, causing condensation problems, and increasing heating bills.  What to do?  I have seen clever homeowners fit STYROFOAM COVERS over the vents for the winter months.  Sounds smart to me, think I’ll do the same in November, before the first freeze.

So what’s the verdict on this crawlspace?  How would I grade it?  (Old professors never die, they just crawl away.)  As it stands right now, I would give it a C plus maybe a B minus because I’m that kind of easy grader.  But with a modest amount of work, and just a few hundred dollars, less than a thousand, I could quickly bring this crawlspace up to an B plus . . . or maybe an A minus.  I’d certainly buy a home with an A minus crawlspace . . . especially if I could get it for a bargain price.  Wouldn’t you?


posted by // 1 Comment »

Folsom Lake, CA Trail

said on March 17th, 2013 filed under: Auburn, Localism, Running and Hiking trails

This is one of the most scenic trails I know.  The soft sandy foot path is a sweet bonus.

The trail, which runs southwest from Auburn to Folsom, almost all of it along the shore, has several access points.  I like going in at the Sterling Equestrian Staging Area.  Following the video is a link to a previous article called “The La Di Dah Trail.”



Here are more details about the “La Di Dah Trail.”

posted by // No Comments »

Empire Mine State Park, Grass Valley, CA, the Running and Hiking Trails

said on February 28th, 2013 filed under: Grass Valley, Localism, Running and Hiking trails

Empire Mine State Park Trails.   Here’s a video that will give you a taste of the trails at Empire Mines State Park in Grass Valley, CA.  When I say “in” Grass Valley, that’s what I mean.  Empire Mines is a medium size park with about 12 miles of trails if you run every little bit of every trail, and it is inside the city limits of Grass Valley.  Best way to get there?  Go to Grass valley and ask anybody, “Where’s Empire Mines State Park?”



If you want to take another turn around the park, just click on this Empire Mine State Park link called Rain Gear,

posted by // 1 Comment »

Running the Spenceville Wildlife Trails

said on February 22nd, 2013 filed under: Fun Things to Do Outdoors, Localism, Running and Hiking trails

Running the Spenceville Wildlife Trails.

How to get there: Take Highway 20 out of Grass valley heading west toward Marysville and Yuba City. Just after you cross the Nevada County line take the road to the left called “Beal Air Force Base.” It’s actually the Smartville Road, but never mind. After a mile, turn left on Chuck Yeager Road. Go about 4 more miles. Turn left on Waldo Road and follow it to the trailhead. It’s dirt and gravel, dusty but not too rough. Do not take the Camp Farwest road to the right. Just stay on Waldo. In a couple of miles it stops. That’s the trail head. Stretch and walk across the old con crete bride and then follow the directions in my video.

Click here if you want to read the article called “Spenceville Dogs”

I hope you enjoyed our little outing, Running the Spenceville Wildlife Trails.  Adios.  See you on the next run.

posted by // No Comments »