Ask the Architect

Giving thanks to you, the readers


This Thanksgiving, I want to take time to thank the readers of this column. Next week will mark 28 years that I’ve answered readers’ questions, and I hope the advice I’ve given has helped. I’m sure that not everything I write is agreeable to everyone, but as the poet John Lydgate once wrote, “You can please some of the people all of the time, you can please all of the people some of the time, but you can’t please all of the people all of the time.”

I want to thank those who have sent questions to me, whose sincerity, respect and appreciation in asking those questions meant that they support this column and the need to give back to others when I can. At times I’ve offered humor, and at times I’ve been sarcastic, accusing, brazen and/or derogatory. I’ve received a few angry letters because I’ve touched raw nerves, and I’ve received letters of appreciation — and I’ve saved both varieties. I guess it’s true that you’re not really “somebody” until you get hate mail, and you know you’re somebody when total strangers say kind things to you.

I thank the firefighters who’ve told me they appreciated my informing the public about fire safety in their homes and how to survive a fire in a high-rise apartment or office building, since we share the same concerns in our professions. I thank the building officials who’ve told me that columns of mine hang in their offices, to help the public understand why we need public safety, building codes and rules. I thank the lawyers and title companies who didn’t just take offense at what I wrote, but proactively took it to heart and told me how they guided their clients to better avoid real property problems. I thank the people who’ve told me that they passed my column on to their children, who were buying their first home. I’m glad I could also help those who had a leaky pipe, a light that flickered all the time, a sinking front yard or bees coming through the walls.

The most common question I get is about water in the basement. Some questions, however, really made me search, to the point where I get, no exaggeration, 32 specialty field publications just so I can search for answers. I get everything from Gutter Opportunities, a magazine devoted to anything you’d ever want to know about rain gutters and downspouts; to Transmission, about the electric utility industry; to Trenchless, about underground drilling for road sewer drains, giant gas lines and parking lot drywells; to Roads and Bridges, Plumbing Engineer … it’s a long list.

And last but not least, I want to thank the staff and the owners of the Herald Community Newspapers, Stuart and Cliff Richner, for believing there was a need for this column back on Dec. 1, 1989, and supporting and encouraging me. I’m looking forward to the next 28 years. Thanks to all of you!

© 2017 Monte Leeper. Readers are encouraged to send questions to, with “Herald question” in the subject line, or to Herald Homes, 2 Endo Blvd., Garden City, NY 11530, Attn: Monte Leeper, architect.