Helen Watts Engineering PLLC

Hints for Homeowners #1 - The Spring Inspection

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Hints for Homeowners #1 - The Spring Inspection
Hints for Homeowners #2 - Live Green
Hints for Homeowners #3 - Hire a Contractor
Hints for Homeowners #4 - Ice Dams
Hints for Homeowners #5 - Landscaping

So, the daffodils are up, and the bicycles are going back on the road. The syrup is running, and the homeowner’s thoughts turn to… “What do you mean, water in the basement!” or “There’s a shingle missing off the roof!” or “We have to fix trim rot before I paint it.” Ah, spring, the time when you make lists of things to take up your summertime hours.

 

People who take care of buildings for a living will tell you that doing timely maintenance will really save you money. One firm challenged an engineering firm to make a study of what the return on investment (the ROI) would be, and after a reasonable amount of data crunching they came up with an ROI over 25 years of (gasp!) 545%. That is a good number. And what it means is that while people like to buy new things and just throw out the old, maintaining the things that we have is the best way to spend our money. It is also a “greener” way to live – right up there with “Reduce, Reuse, Recycle”.

 

So, where do you start? Well, every spring (or once a year), go around your house, inside, top to bottom, and outside, fence to fence. Make a list of the rooms, including the hall, the bathrooms, the laundry, and the finished and unfinished spaces in the attic and basement. Look at the floors, ceilings and walls (including the corners). How about the trim? Do the doors and windows work properly? Is there too much JUNK in a space for it to be used for living? Are there enough outlets, or are the lights broken, or are the bulbs incandescent? Is there enough light for the uses of the room? Is the heat working  and circulating through the room? Is there any mold? Is the bathroom ventilation working AND being used? Are there leaks around the chimney? And when was that last inspected and cleaned? Warning: just write everything down. Don’t clean as you go or you won’t make it all around the survey.

 

Outside, walk around the house. Has the gardening mulch built up around the foundation so water coming off the eaves doesn’t drain away from the house? Is water splashing onto the house and rotting the trim? Are the shrubs growing up against the building? The driveway may need sealing. What about the property lines? Have you walked them? And the septic system was last checked… when? While you’re standing at the edge of your lawn, how does the roof and chimney look? Are the shingles curling or missing in places? What about on the other side of the roof, where there’s a different amount of sunlight/weather? How does the trim look? What needs painting? And is there a volunteer to go under the deck and check the condition of the deck framing, especially where it is attached to the house? The deck railing is also on the check list. So are any collections of JUNK. You know you’ll have to mow around it…

  

The list from this survey should also include planned changes and improvements. “Next year we’ll put in a pool, right here.” “How about a shed, with a tree-house on top, and a slide…” “The living room and hall get painted this year.” “Sam has to move to a Big Boy bed!” “We need to plan on having a ramp to the front door, and put in a wider door to the bathroom.”

 

Next, you can take this list, and decide which things are priorities for this year, or to be done in 2-3 years, or 10 years, and budget for the planned work. And you may be able to allocate some parts of the list – “I’ll do this if you’ll take care of that, and for this we need to call Rosie the Roofer”. Remember the 545% ROI, and that water, in the wrong place, will really cost lots more if it isn’t nipped in the bud.

There's more information on the Builder's Tools page.

Helen Watts Engineering PLLC * 455 Litchfield Road * Bowdoin, ME * 04287 * hcwatts@gwi.net * (207) 522-9366