Apartment Hunting and Questionable Designs


Ally and I are looking for an apartment. Getting an 2 bedroom apartment within walking distance of the Red Line is expensive, nearly 4 times as expensive as a mortgage on a 5 bedroom, 3 bath home in rural Michigan. So we are taking our time and scoping out various options. We have been on a handful of tours now. Nothing in particular has been striking thus far. Most of the places we have seen are floors of multi-family homes nestled tightly together on 1/16 acre plots. Somerville is a dense neighborhood. In one case we visited an actual 'apartment building', it was a bit old and showed its age in places. The broker from Coldwell hurried us through an apartment in the building in which a resident was present (illegal if the tenant object according to COVID regulations, I did not know prior someone would be there and/or if they wanted the broker to stop by). As I asked the broker if a particular component in the apartment worked, the resident looked me in the eye and nodded 'no'... the broker did not see this... the search continues.

As a general principle, I think it's good to ask questions even when things seem normal and satisfactory. Things can always be a bit better right? Or a bit safer? Perhaps the way we used to do that was inefficient? Dangerous?

I was looking at this building while on a run through Somerville. It's been around for decades. I was struck by the diameter of the supporting pillars underneath the building. Something in my head told me that the supports seemed inadequately built. I sat down at the dinner table later and calculated the critical load for buckling using some ol' statics knowledge from college. I made some assumptions and my 'back of the envelope' calculation showed me the building's supports have at least a safety factor of 5, which is not great but perhaps acceptable for static buildings that do not change in mass often. 

Another building I saw on my run had these signs outside. I feel like they probably got tired of updating the sign after a while...

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