Posted on June 6, 2012 in Disasters, Published Articles, Sunriver Scene by ShannonNo Comments »

Published in the June 2012 Sunriver Scene

 

Clients often ask me if they should install a security system in their vacation home. Over the last 7 years I have increasingly answered yes. Then I explain that according to neighborhoodscout. com, 1 out of every 31 Central Oregon homes will be burglarized this year. That translates to an estimated 136 homes hit in Sunriver. With the developments of the security systems and the increase in crime against property protecting your investment and investing in your peace of mind while away from your home for extended time periods just makes good sense.
Monitoring the safety and condition of your home from afar has never been easier. Cameras, temperature and water sensors, even turning your lights on and off, are just a few of the new bells and whistles that alarm systems offer. If you are not using your home every week, would you even know if someone was in there? Several years ago some not so neighborly-neighbors cleaned out everything of value in a Sunriver area house a few pieces of furniture at a time. By the time the homeowner came to visit, the place was empty. The best idea is to have someone checking on the house. The second best idea is to have an alarm.
So what does an alarm do? One, it creates an inconvenience for the burglar. When figuring out what home to break into, an alarmed home will be bypassed for the easier one down the street with no alarm. Two, the loud and uncomfortable sirens that sound when an incorrect code is entered will scare off the intruder and alert your neighbors. Once the alarm is set off a monitoring station will first call the house to make sure the alarm was not inadvertently triggered. With no answer, the alarm company will report the activity to the police and request that officers be sent out to the house.
Some of the newer available features include cold alerts where the owner receives a call if the house temperature dips below a preset number. Every year several furnaces in the homes I manage go on strike. If the homes had been left unattended with no heat, those homeowners would be looking at everything from frozen pipes to severe water damage. Luckily with alarm alerts and the regular house checking I do, all problems have been averted.
Water alerts work the same way; you’ll receive a call if a specific area is wet or a higher than normal amount of water is flowing into the home. If you don’t have a person lined up to deal with the problem, you’ll have to revamp your plans and start driving immediately. Do you really want to deal with the soggy wet carpet once you arrive at your troubled home? A double layer of protection, an alarm and a local caretaker, will help secure your asset from crime and system mishaps.
I can’t stress how important it is to have a reliable local looking after your home. Recently I arrived at a home after the alarm had been triggered and the police had declared the house safe and departed. All was well except for the fact that the sliding door had been left wide open. With the original alarm having been cleared, the welcome mat had now been thrown out for intruders. This may sound unusual to you, but it’s not. In over six years of managing property across Central Oregon, that has happened 3 times on my watch. Not to mention what the heating bill would have been with a door left open during the cold winter.
When selecting an alarm company look for a one with local presence, local repairman and a reliable central station. I had one home where a remodel with new windows meant a small change to the security system. The company had no local repairmen; consequently the house went unprotected for over two weeks while waiting for a technician to come over from Portland.
Make sure you feel confident and secure with your selected security company and their employees. You want to know who you are inviting into your home since they will be installing your system and privy to all the alarm codes. Referrals from a reliable source such as your caretaker, neighbor or realtor are best.
When choosing an alarm system, other features to look for include remote access for viewing the house or turning the alarm on and off for guests. Logging on and seeing the house temperature and adjusting remotely is great with our variable weather in Central Oregon.
Don’t be put off by price. In addition to saving money on potential replacement of stolen items and/or repairs, many insurance companies give discounts for homes with monitored alarm systems. Be sure to take advantage of this savings with your homeowners insurance and check the requirements prior to installation. Once you’ve got your alarm system installed and activated and your caretaker at the helm, you can relax almost as much as you would if you were actually here in Sunriver.

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 May 23, 2012 in Disasters, VRBO by ShannonNo Comments »

The latest buzz heard around Bend and Sunriver is about break-ins to unoccupied homes. A group of squatters actually moved into a Sunriver home for the winter, rearranged the furniture, took out some walls and made themselves at home. The unwanted guests moved the ping pong table from downstairs to the upstairs and couches outside. The owners arrived for vacation and found a trashed and damaged home as they watched the squatters run out the back door!

Another home in Bend was damaged when someone broke in and left the hot water running full blast in the sinks. Yikes on that heating bill and water damage repair.

Both homes have near-by neighbors and still nothing was reported or even looked amiss.

Just a few more reasons you really want to have someone reliable watching over your home and a good security system never hurts. A weekly home check would easily have prevented the amount of damage to the Sunriver home. The Bend home is under surveillance and the promblems were caught and quickly contained. Keep an eye out for my next column in the Sunriver Scene – To Arm or Not To Arm. Give me a call if you need help with your Central Oregon home.

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As appeared in Sunriver Scene by Shannon Bassett, Caretaking Commander

 

With times continuing to be tough, everyone is looking for a good deal. One place you don’t want take shortcuts is with an unlicensed contractor or service provider. I manage three or four big construction jobs every year for my clients and loads of smaller projects, from remodels, electrical repairs to plumbing and even landscaping. There are plenty of unlicensed contractors out there these days, often with lower bids. However, what can seem like a good deal can wind up costing you in the end. As a result, I always use a licensed contractor.

 

A contractor’s license offers the homeowner some degree of protection during and after the project. An active license with the Oregon Contractors Board (CCB) indicates that someone in the company attended classes for their trade, passed a state exam and can legally work in the State of Oregon. Equally important is the insurance and bonding required by the CCB that protects the homeowner. Liability insurance covers property and bodily injury losses caused by the contractor. Surety bonds pay damages to the homeowner if the contractor fails in his or her duties. Finally, workers’ compensation covers employees who are injured on the job and ensures that those injury claims don’t come back to you, which they could if your contractor doesn’t have workers’ compensation insurance. In addition through the CCB, you as the homeowner have protections, including an avenue to complain and/or recover and receive monetary compensation if problems occur.

 

How do I make sure that I am getting a licensed contractor? Or more importantly, how can you?

 

  • *First and foremost, check the CCB website for the status of the contractor. Search by name or number on the website www.hirealicensedcontractor.com. CCB provides information on the status, bankruptcy, number of years in business, fines and disciplinary actions. Confirm that the names and addresses agree to who you have met with.
  • *On the CCB website you can also make sure the contractor is not involved in any disputes. Past disciplinary actions indicate problems with past clients.
  • *Call the contractors insurance company and confirm insurance is current and will cover your type of project.
  • *Get a list of references and call to find out about the quality of the work and timeliness. Did the contractor stick to the original budget numbers?  Ask if the client was happy with the contractors work. Did the homeowner have any issues with problems after the project was over? Did the contractor come back and take care of everything? Mistakes do happen and sometimes mid-project we homeowners change our minds. In my experience the best contractors have been those who stand behind their work.

 

If your unlicensed contractor is missing in action and phone calls aren’t returned after the job completion, be prepared to pay for someone else to do the repairs. If disputes do arise with your licensed contractor, the CCB has a dispute resolution process including mediation. You can make a claim against the contractor and get the work completed or obtain a judgment for the contractor’s surety payment. The website www.oregon.gov/ccb outlines the process for filing complaints.

 

The name of the game is finding a contractor who will get the job done on time and on budget without putting you at risk. In a multiple bid situation, I rarely go with the lowest bid. Rather I look at the entire project and select the contractor who will meet the budget and be there for the long term to fix any issues. I’d much rather work with a licensed I know I can rely on. Not only do I run into fewer problems on the job, but the peace of mind provided by the additional protection should any problems arise is worth every penny of the extra expense.

 

 

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 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 March 14, 2012 in Disasters, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

    Not much fun to come home to this in your private driveway.   A windy couple of weeks here in Central Oregon and not all the trees survived.  Home Fridays to the rescue!  We do extra house checks during this crazy weather – finding all the issues and getting them corrected.  This tree will be chopped up, cleaned up and out of the way by the weekend.   And so begins some of the post storm cleanup….

Concerned about your house?  Give us a call and we can check on your home as well.

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Posted on March 8, 2012 in Disasters, Published Articles, Sunriver Scene, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

As published in the Sunriver Scene By Shannon Bassett – Caretaking Commander, Home Fridays

No one wants to think about water emergencies. Imagine a call from a neighbor alerting you to water running down your driveway and icicles on the inside of the window. One faulty furnace caused an interior drop in temperature to a vacant home. Several months passed before the problem was discovered. Water saturated the upstairs, dripped downstairs and flowed under the front door. The house was in ‘repair’ status and unusable for over a year.
If your furnace fails you might face a similar experience. A cold house leads to broken pipes when the weather gets cold. Broken pipes thaw out and the water runs freely through the house.
While more common in the winter, water emergencies also happen in the summer. Washing machines and toilet supply lines are common sites for breaks and leaks. The most common cause of interior water damage, according to many plumbers, is the ice maker. A broken ice maker will pump hundreds of gallons of water into your kitchen, causing thousands of dollars of damage. A plastic supply line is an easy target for mice looking for a water source—just a couple nibbles and you have water running everywhere. Water heaters have a predetermined life expectancy which they rarely exceed. The bottoms rust out or the fixtures start leaking. Cracked hose bibs are another common winter water issue. The pipe breaks inside the wall due to a garden hose left attached to the bib or due to a lack of insulation. The water saturates the wall and runs inside the house continuously.
With all this doom and gloom, is there a silver lining? Prevention is the key to limiting your damage. Proactive maintenance and vigilant attention to the house will help catch the water before it becomes a big problem. Most leaks start out small, so if someone is watching your house you can prevent the big price tag that comes with a major water problem.
Regular annual maintenance to your furnace is also highly recommended. Not only will your furnace last longer and run more efficiently, you may avoid a winter breakdown. Three days without heat when the temperatures are below freezing and you will have frozen pipes, guaranteed. Every winter I have a few owners who don’t want to pay for annual furnace maintenance. Without fail at least two of three who decline the service have major furnace failures during the winter and wind up spending significantly more money than a maintenance visit would have cost.
Clearing the ice dams and making sure the snow is running off the house (instead of inside) is critical during the difficult weather. You also want to regularly check toilets, washers and ice makers to make sure the supply lines are dry and there is no water leaking in or around the area. A damp line is an indication that the part is starting to fail. Changing out supply lines to a braided type will minimize chances of toilet and washing machine leaks. Scrutinize areas that have had problems in the past such as leaky skylights and ill-fitting doors. A quick fix now will protect your home from extensive water damage in the future.
Alarm systems now exist to alert you when water is detected in the home. ‘Water Bugs’ are placed around the sensitive areas such as the water heater, and under the refrigerator or sink. When moisture is detected the alarm calls to let you know. Another type of alarm monitors water usage in the house and shuts off the water valve when too much water is flowing through the house. Easy-to-reach water controls installed by a licensed plumber make it easy to turn off all the water when you leave the house for an extended period of time.
Taking care of the small things can add up. But when compared to the significant cost and inconvenience of a major water restoration job, these prevention-related costs are minimal. Remember if damage occurs over time and the house has been vacant, it might not even be covered by insurance. Insurance companies often classify a house as vacant if no one has been there for 30 days. So be vigilant, proactive and get a second set of eyes on the place if you can’t be there yourself.
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 February 23, 2012 in Disasters, VRBO, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

Yesterday was a cold winter day in Bend.  A clients guests called and asked me to get their hot tub repaired.  As she explained the problem to me – I almost dropped the phone.
Here is the conversation.

 

Guest – “When I used the hot tub last week it was fine.  But when I went to turn it on last night half
the water was gone.  I think it has a leak.”

 

Me – “What do you mean when you say you turn it on?”

 

Guest – “It has been working just fine and we did notice the water getting a little lower.  But now it is draining really fast and is half empty.”

 

Me – “Is the heater still going?  Did you add water?”

 

Guest – “Oh, no it was off and we didn’t turn it on when we saw the water was out.”

 

Me – “What does off mean? Are you just lowering the temperature when not using it?”

 

Guest – “Oh no we just pull the outside breaker when we are not using it.”

 

Me – “So the motor is off and you heat it up when you want
to use it?   You do know that
temperatures outside freeze overnight.
You have probably frozen all the parts of the hot tub and they have cracked
and are now leaking.  You never turn off
hot tubs, you just leave them alone.”

 

Guest – “Oh, we didn’t know, we never had a hot tub before.”

 

So when people ask me why they should have someone take care
of their home when they are away…. SO many reasons come to mind.  Here is a house that is occupied while the
owners are gone.  However, the guests
haven’t a clue of how to survive in this climate.

 

If you need help – give us a call, nothing surprises me
anymore.

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Posted on December 27, 2011 in Disasters, Published Articles, Sunriver Scene, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

Be sure to check out our new column in the Sunriver Scene.  Here is a preview of the January article.

Owners in Sunriver had icicles hanging down from their roof all the way to the ground. At first, it looked like a pretty sculpture. Over time, however, the icicles grew and grew until you couldn’t wrap your arms around them. The neighbors became concerned and called to alert the owners. Too busy with their day-to-day lives in the city, however, the owners didn’t have time to deal with the ice  sculptures on the house. Over time the water worked its way in through the roof, the walls, and under the doors ruining the wood floors, carpets, interior walls and exterior paint. Mold even started to grow under the floors. When the owners finally dealt with the issue it required a six month ordeal to get the house repaired.

Ice dams cause thousands of dollars of damage annually throughout the U.S. An ice dam is a ridge of ice that usually forms at the edge of a roof and prevents melting snow from draining. As the snow
melts, water backs up behind the dam, eventually leaking through the roof and causing the kind of damage we saw in Sunriver.

Ice dams are caused by a variety of factors including poor insulation, house design and the warming/cooling environment. Contrary to popular belief, gutters do not cause ice dams to form. Gutters do, however, help concentrate ice from the dam in a vulnerable area where parts of the house can peel away under the weight of the ice and come crashing to the ground.

In the case of the poor homeowners above, poor design coupled with ignoring the warning signs led to $200,000 worth of damage. Yes, they had homeowners insurance but they were still liable for the deductible not to mention the increases in insurance premiums. They also lost the use of their home for the entire spring and summer.

The good news is you don’t have to redesign your house. Prevention can be as easy as making sure the gutters are clean and clear prior to snow fall. Installing electrical heat tape in areas of the roof and gutters you are worried about is another way to eliminate recurring ice dams. Provide just enough heat to prevent the freezing on the roof or in the gutters.

Once the snow arrives, use a roof rake to remove excess snow from the eaves and create a path off the roof for the water. In extreme cases I have seen people on the roof with ice picks–but this is not a recommended method (the roof usually ends up damaged).

The most important part of addressing the ice dams entails keeping an eye on the home through the heavy snow season. If you find yourself with a recurring problem, talk with a qualified roofer or contractor and look into how to prevent ice dams in the future. Those measures might include changing the ventilation and/or eliminating valleys.

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 25, 2011 in Disasters, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

We have had beautiful fall and weather this past 2 weeks was temperatures in the mid to high 60’s and warmer!

Tonight our temperatures will begin to drop into the low 20’s and the daily highs in low 40’s & 50’s.

At Home Fridays we are ready for it!! 

The vent covers, hose bibs are on the exterior of our homes. Our annual furnace checks are in progress and pilot’s lit in fireplaces. All exposed pipes are checked on each home inspection and we have moved patio furniture under cover or in the garage.

Sprinkler systems have been turned off and gutters cleaned.  Come on Mr. Winter – we are ready for you.

Once the snow begins to fall this is just a short list of extra inspection items:

  • If snow – inspect all around house to see if we have any areas of concentration for icecycles, ice damns (typically in roof valleys or above skylights). 

 

  • Snow should not be up against wood or glass doors.  If we find this, we make sure it gets removed.  

 

  • Heat should be set to at least 55 on all homes.  

 

  • Open cupboards under each sink and leave open – helps keep the ambient temperature consistent throughout the house.

 

  • All bedroom doors should be open – helps keep the ambient temperature consistent throughout the house.   We want to avoid cold spots in the house.

 

  • Keep a close eye on the ceiling and the skylights – winter weather will bring more leaks!

 

  • Check windows for weeping or leaking.   We like to keep the blinds up about 1” so we can quickly look at the window sills for any potential problems.

 

At Home Fridays we care for your 2nd home inside and out!  If you are having concerns about your home, give us a call at (541)317-3088 and we can get you ready for winter.

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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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