Posted on April 17, 2012 in A La Carte Services, Disasters by ShannonNo Comments »

It is hard to believe the audacity of some thieves.   Having Champagne and taking a shower while burglarizing a home?   Check out this link; http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/the-other-side/california-burglar-caught-naked-in-shower-after-helping-himself-to-champagne/story-e6frfhk6-1226329753900

 

Meanwhile in a Central Oregon gated community we had a rash of thefts ust last week.   A screwdriver to the back door lock was all it took to break open the man doors into the garages and gain access to the homes.  Notices went out to the neighborhood and everyone was on high alert.  After several nights of the same activity, he was caught.  The burglar didn’t even change neighborhoods…

 

At Home Fridays we have several precautions to prevent and minimize damage.

  1. 1. Always lock the door between the house and the garage with a deadbolt.
  2. 2. Set the alarm when no one is there, even if only out for a short time.
  3. 3. Unplug or lock the garage door so automatic openers cannot be used.
  4. 4. Have someone check the house on a regular basis.

 

For our owners in the affected neighborhood, they had great relief knowing that we had been to their homes and they were not victims.  Do you know the status of your home?   If not, give us a call…

 

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Posted on January 19, 2012 in A La Carte Services, Published Articles, Sunriver Scene, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

As published in the Sunriver Scene

Every year homeowners ask about snow removal.  Many people only want to remove snow when they are going to be using their house.  While a nice idea, it just doesn’t work that way.  For starters, a snow-filled driveway indicates an empty house which can be a target for crime. That’s the least of your worries.  With the temperature swings we have in Central Oregon, the snow constantly warms up during the day and refreezes in the evenings.  This creates serious challenges:

 

 

 

Ice barricades:

 

Roads are typically plowed with every four inches of snowfall.   When they clear the roads, little consideration is given for your driveway.  The result is a snow berm at the entrance of your driveway.  Snow here in Sunriver has been known to create berms over four feet high.  Because of our warm days and cold nights, that berm turns to ice. Not only will even a small pile of ice stop all access to the home, without assistance from Mother Nature you will need an ice axe to get into the driveway.  Don’t forget that parking on the street will result in a ticket, starting at $50 and going all the way up to $250.

 

 

 

Skating rinks where walkways should be:

 

Of course the same freeze/melt cycle that turns berms into ice sculptures also occurs on your driveway and walkways creating an icy entrance.  Ice melt is sometimes recommended for taking care of the slick walkways. However, ice melt can speed up the breakdown of the driveway and damage the house when it gets tracked in on the wood floors.  I like to use sand or kitty litter in the slick spots, which adds traction without damaging asphalt, floors or your shoes.

 

 

 

Roof and Deck Overload:

 

The volume of snow in Sunriver can outweigh your roof and deck, putting your house in serious jeopardy if all that white weight is not removed. Roofs and decks are required by code to withstand 25 pounds per square foot of snow. Weight of snow varies greatly based on the temperature. Warmer, wetter snow is much heavier than fluffy, dry snow.

 

When fearing that your roof or deck might collapse it is easy to overreact.  I heard about one Sunriver homeowner who paid tons of money to have every inch of snow removed from her roof. She was called by a neighbor who told her she needed to have the roof cleared and they had seven guys in her driveway that could do it.  Were they roofers? Were they licensed? Did they even have references?

 

 

 

Removing the Snow:

 

How often do you clear snow? I clear driveways at four inches or greater to prevent ice berms and allow easy access to the house. Decks and roofs are cleared around two feet of snow accumulation. While decks in the sun often clear on their own, the shady decks pile up as the snow falls. Mounds of snow against windows or doors signal removal time has arrived.

 

Mother Nature sometimes helps with warm weather or rain melting away the white weight.  When that doesn’t work, a reliable local professional monitoring the snow situation and clearing it away provides peace of mind. Landscapers equipped with snow blowers, plows and shovels do a great job for the driveway and walkways.  Shovel smaller walkways, stairs and decks by hand to avoid damage. For the roof, I always use licensed roofers. They know what they are doing up there and won’t damage the area. On the roof I concentrate on clearing the eaves and the critical melt paths so water can run off the house.

 

The bottom line: Shoveling will have to be done by you or someone you hire to protect your home. After the driveways, roofs and decks are cleared you can enjoy winter from the comfort of your home.

 

 

 

To get help with your home call me, the Caretaking Commander, at Home Fridays. I have been buying, renovating and managing residential and commercial properties for over 20 years. My locally-based company, Home Fridays (homefridays.com), offers professional home management and concierge services to vacation home owners.  You can reach me at 541/317-3088 or shannon@homefridays.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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Posted on October 7, 2011 in A La Carte Services, Questions When Hiring by ShannonNo Comments »

A few simple questions to help decide if Home Fridays can help make managing your vacation home a breeze.

 

1. How far do you live from your property and how frequently can you visit the property?

If you are close you may be able to make the regular visits required for maintenance, inspections, etc., otherwise the further you live the higher your travel time and expenses will be. The larger the distance the, the harder it is to keep a close eye on things.  Disasters happen when a small thing is allowed to develop into something larger.  You should plan making bi-monthly scheduled visits and there is always the potential for a middle of the night emergency call that requires your immediate attention. In the long run, is this feasible for you?  Home Fridays is at your home weekly allowing you to relax when you are away and not worry about the property.

 

2. Are you willing and able to be on-call 24/7/365?

It is important to answer this question honestly, because when an emergency happens at your property you can’t ignore it. Your special event, important meeting, vacation, or personal crisis doesn’t relieve you of an emergency. These emergencies don’t happen all the time, but when they do you have to be willing to handle them immediately. Can you handle being called at 2am in the morning to respond to a security alarm, fallen tree, electrical outage, broken window, flooding?  Home Fridays is on call 24/7 and staffed to handle all your problems.

 

3. Are you currently overwhelmed with your property(s)?

Managing a vacation home can become quickly overwhelming, even for experienced 2nd homeowners. There is always something going on that requires attention.  Are you missing out on vacation time because the ‘honey do’ list is too long?  Home Fridays completes all the honey do lists and lets you focus on your vacation.

 

4. How much experience do you have with maintenance and repairs?

If you can’t do it yourself, do you know who to call? Finding reliable handymen and contractors can take a while and in the mean time you may unknowingly hire people that are unethical, uninsured, do poor quality work, or over charge.  Home Fridays contractors are all certified, licensed, insured and bonded. 

 

5. How well do you understand the insurance risks in Oregon with a vacant house?

Many vacation home insurance policies are null and void if the home is vacant for more than 30 days.   That means the small toilet leak that ended up flooding the first floor of the house when the water ran for 45 days won’t be covered.  Home Fridays is at the house weekly, catching the small mishaps before they become a big problem.   With a regular presence in the house you can avoid the vacant house issue.

 

6. From a financial standpoint, is managing your property the best use of your time?

Ultimately, your decision to hire or not hire a home management company should hinge on whether or not it is a good fit with your lifestyle and makes sense financially.  Is your peace of mind worth the small investment?  Hiring Home Fridays home management  can ensure you peace of mind and  protect your investment!

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Posted on September 27, 2011 in A La Carte Services, Disasters, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

With our extreme winters here in Central Oregon it is particularly critical that each house is “winterized”.  Home Fridays offers this service to all of our clients.  Winterizing is much more than just putting on foundation vent and faucet covers.

Winterizing Prep includes

  • Install foundation vent and faucet covers.  You want to keep the crawl space warm.  It protects the pipes and helps to keep the heating bills down. 
  • Bring in the hoses and anything else outside that will do better in the house!
  • Paint kept in the garage should be moved into a warm area if you want to maintain it.  We usually put the paint around the water heater or in a laundry room. 
  • Annual furnace maintenance is critical to keeping the house warm. 
  • Check that heat tape on eaves and gutters is in working order.
  • Close the blinds – just another way to keep in warmer inside.

 

Ongoing Winter Tasks:

Regular snow plowing as the weather dictates.  Home Fridays also schedules snow plowing and shoveling.   A safe and clear path to the house is essential for keeping an eye on things. 

Tree and branch removal as necessary.  When severe winds hit we usually have broken limbs in trees or trees down.  Home Fridays partners with one of the most experienced Arborists in Central Oregon to take care of these issues.

Power outages are also a part of winter’s wrath!  When we are doing house checks we reset the clocks and check all appliances including hot tubs that might be affected by the power outage.

Monitoring ice dams; as the snow melts and starts to run off the house it then gets cold again – either dropping temperatures inside or the cooler eaves of the home.  Then it freezes.  The next time the snow starts melting it doesn’t run all the way off the house – it runs into the frozen ice dam and pools. Heat tape is one way to prevent these ice damns.  Another is to work with a local roofer to get the ice damn broken up and begin the melting process (if Mother Nature cooperates).  Left ignored they can do a great deal of damage.       

Roof/ Ceiling Inspection on a weekly basis allow Home Fridays to keep on top of things.  The weather here can push up tiles as the result of an ice damn or even tear off parts of a roof in heavy wind storms. 

Fireplace lighting and maintenance.  When Mr. Winter hits us with our first big snowfall it is the time to turn on your inviting and cozy fireplace.  Regular maintenance with cleaning, servicing can prevent potential fire hazards.   

Home Fridays will be reminding you regarding all of these tips as winter approaches. We recommend winterization of your home to keep your investment here in Central Oregon safe and worry free!

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Posted on May 23, 2011 in A La Carte Services by ShannonNo Comments »

I just could not resist posting on a recent blog post by Time Magazine all about consumers.  According to one survey it looks like the demand for handy men will be increasing.  Not a big surprise to us here at Home Fridays.  Even if you can do the repair yourself, who wants to spend the time on their vacation taking care of things?  Here is the excerpt;

If you can hold your own in the DIY department, you’re truly exceptional. An AA Home Emergency Response study shows that the number of men capable of handling home maintenance jobs has been on the decline for decades. In 1970, 71% of men had basic home DIY project skills, compared to just 44% more recently. By 2030, it’s expected that only one in five men will be able to pick up DIY skills from their fathers.

Read more:  http://ti.me/lpqAiO

Don’t  worry at Home Fridays we are ready to take on the burden.

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Posted on May 18, 2011 in A La Carte Services, Spring by ShannonNo Comments »

I ran across this article today about a woman in New Mexico who was fined for not weeding her yard.  It sounds like it was a second home that she was neglecting.  When she went to the courthouse to pay a parking ticket they arrested her and tossed her in jail.  http://bit.ly/kjtAw7    At Home Fridays we are managing the yard service and making sure we don’t get anyone tossed in jail.  Some homeowner associations are very rigid and do ticket for too many noxious weeds.  We have dealt with this in the past and worked through the issue with the Home Owners Associations.  It typically requires a visit with the HOA rep to prove the noxious weeds have been removed.  Noxious weeds can be a real issue as once your neighbor has them, you can be sure that you will be visited as well.  Regular maintenance with pulling, spraying and monitoring is the best solution.  Here is a link to Oregon Department of Agriculture Plant Division which has some great pictures and profiles of noxious weeds.  http://1.usa.gov/lbFDvN   So stay weeded and stay out of trouble!

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Posted on May 3, 2011 in A La Carte Services, Spring by ShannonNo Comments »

As we emerge from winter here are the things we are doing at Home Fridays to get ready for the Spring.  If you are needing help with these items – just give us a call.  

  1. Clean the pine needles off the roof, gutters, decks and lawn.  Excessive needles are a fire hazard and will encourage lawn damage if left unattended.  And some of our homeowners associations will ticket you for not cleaning up. 
  2. Look Up – we have had a really windy winter with lots of trees and branches coming down. It is important to make sure everything is safely off the house.  For the health of the trees, get any damaged branches cut down. 
  3. Repair broken gutters damaged during the long winter which can create holes or pull the gutters off the house.  Also make sure your drain spouts are in good condition – not crushed or detached. 
  4. Remove foundation vent insulation and faucet covers, time for the house to breathe again.  But not too early – wait until the overnight freezes are done (might be late June this year).
  5. Install the window and door screens if removed for the winter.  Check for holes or rips and get those repaired.
  6. Inspect the deck support beams to identify any weakness or ‘spongy’ boards which indicate rot. Schedule annual deck maintenance – sanding, staining and/or replacement if necessary. 
  7. Change furnace filter and turn the furnace down to 50 (but not off yet).  This is Central Oregon, you never know when we will see snow in July.  A great time to get the air conditioner maintenance check scheduled. 
  8. Exterior inspection of the house – any damage from ice cycles or ageing of the paint.  This is a good time to schedule the paint job for the summer. 
  9. Stone fascia is often damaged over the winter with the freezing and cooling which weakens the adhesive.  Check your columns and rockery for anything loose and get it repaired. 
  10. Inspect the driveway for damage – loose pavers.  It is always easier to replace just a few or get them reset rather than waiting for the entire driveway to start failing.  Also sealing the driveway every few years will prolong the life and save money from a total redo. 
  11. Schedule the carpet, window and deep cleaning of the house. 
  12. Inspect for woodpecker damage around the house and the deck supports.  Woodpeckers are a protected species in Central Oregon and for some reason they really like our desert climate (who wouldn’t).  We have a number of methods we use to repair the damage and prevent further damage – everything from board replacement to netting and nest boxes. 
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Posted on March 23, 2011 in A La Carte Services, Disasters, Fall, Spring, Summer, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

I am on jury duty for the next two weeks.  A daunting process here in Deschutes County.  You call a number every evening after 6pm to find out if you are needed in court the next day.  Effectively putting everything on hold until April…  Thankfully we have lots of back up here at Home Fridays to cover in my absence.

We might be a small business – but we have built in stop gaps, backup plans and coverage in the case of illness and vacation (or in my case jury duty).  Life goes on and we cannot always be at work.  So it is really important to have the right plan in place to cover everything 24/7.  Our phones are forwarded to make sure someone is available.  The office has coverage each day to schedule appointments.  We have someone around each day to check homes, prep homes and deal with the unexpected.  As we all know – nothing ever breaks on Monday morning at 9am. 

Just this week we have dealt with birds in an attic (broke in through some vents and decided to nest).  Excluding mice from one house and ants in another home.  Something is in the air this spring!  Everyone wants to move into our beautiful homes.  Meanwhile construction continues on 4 homes as we act as the eyes and ears for our owners on remodel jobs big and small.  Today we repaired a doorbell at another house.  Never a dull moment at Home Fridays.  But all things that are getting taken care of in just the last 2 days because we have coverage in my absence. 

It is sure nice to know that we will have coverage – no matter what occurs!

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Posted on March 18, 2011 in A La Carte Services, Disasters by ShannonNo Comments »

Sometimes a vacant home can be a great home for rodents.  You aren’t there to see them – so the party begins.  If you find droppings in your home beware!  Of course you could always have Home Fridays take care of the home and the problem for you.

We have another confirmed death from Hantavirus here in Central Oregon (see link for details. http://tinyurl.com/6hjzsmu).   Hantavirus is an airborne disease carried by mice.  It is contracted from breathing in the aerosolized virus from droppings, urine or saliva of the mice. The most common human exposure occurs during cleaning and working in spaces that have been inhabited by mice, such as garages, sheds, barns and crawl spaces.

This disease starts with flu like symptoms and has a 50% mortality rate!  So prevention is the key.  

 It is really important to prevent the infestation of mice through exclusion.  We often find newer homes have gaps around the cable or gas lines going into the house.  In addition the vents might need proper screening.  Garage doors often have gaps that create an easy entrance for the mice.  One all the openings are closed off the remaining mice must be eliminated through trapping.  

The final step is cleaning up after the mice.  It is critical to take precautions as vacuuming can lead to airborne particles of the virus.  Gloves are a must during the cleanup process. Thoroughly wet the contaminated areas with detergent or liquid to deactivate the virus.  Bleach is a great disinfectant to clean the area and eliminate the danger.  Here is a link from the CDC on how to clean up the mess http://preview.tinyurl.com/5tf7dgn 

Need help?  Contact Home Fridays.

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Posted on March 13, 2011 in A La Carte Services by ShannonNo Comments »

Time is winding down to get your carbon monoxide detectors in all rental homes. If you rent out a home you must have 1 per floor at a minimum. We like the new plug in ones that are near the floor – where the first signs of the gas show up. And with plug in you don’t have the ongoing battery issue. We also like to place one at each gas fireplace and near the utility room (if inside the house). Here is a recent article with more information http://preview.tinyurl.com/5uhueok
Even if you don’t have a rental, a carbon monoxide detector is always a good idea.  So put one in now and rest easy.

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