Posted on October 24, 2014 in Disasters, Fall, Tips, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

Things that will likely be on your home’s winterization to do list:  Store the patio furniture, cover the foundation vents and hose bibs, have the furnace serviced and blow out those sprinklers!  What you don’t want in the middle of your winter is a spouting sprinkler line-river running through your yard-full of snow, covering your bushes with a thick layer of ice.  Protecting your sprinkler lines from freeze damage is an easy process, best handled by a professional landscaper that has the proper tools and experience.  The landscapers hook up their commercial air compressors to the irrigation system and blow out any water in the lines.  If water is left in the system it will freeze and expand, cracking the lines, causing expensive repairs.  Save yourself the headache and expense by getting it done, and get on to pumpkin carving.  November and freezing temperatures are right around the corner ushering us closer to winter!

Home Fridays offers professional home management and concierge services to second homeowners in Central Oregon. If you need help managing your second home call me! Danielle Little, Caretaking Lieutenant at Home Fridays – 541-318-3088 or send me an email at Danielle@homefridays.com

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Posted on December 6, 2012 in Fall, Published Articles, Sunriver Scene by ShannonNo Comments »

As published in the Sunriver Scene October 2012 – By Shannon Bassett – Caretaking Commander, Home Fridays

 

Are critters moving in as soon as you take off at the end of each season? Then you already know what I’m about to say all too well. There is little that’s less appealing than arriving to your house for some well-deserved R&R only to discover nasty surprises on the countertops, in the beds and around the kitchen.

Some of those surprises—and the critters responsible for them—are larger than others. One of my clients left his doors open, allowing a pack rat to move in and make himself right at home. He had free reign for several weeks until we finally managed to catch him. I’m sure you can imagine what the house looked like.

Another client had to contend with a “deck condo” that a raccoon family created above their hot tub.  With the help of Alpine Pest Management, we were finally able to screen off that area and convince the raccoons to relocate.

Raccoons are particular problem because of their dexterity. They can literally turn on outside water faucets. Of course, they don’t turn them off. That’s happened to two different clients of mine. Thankfully, both times we showed up to turn off the water, sparing the owners sky high water bills. Before leaving, we made sure to outfox the raccoons by installing removable handles on the faucets.

Mice and squirrels aren’t as adept, but they’re equally or more tenacious. And once they get in—through tiny openings in attics or along garage doors, around windows or gas lines, or via holes or cracks as small as ¼ inch—they refuse to leave or do their best to return. Having stashed food deposits all over your house—atop wooden beams, picture frames, even roller shades—they’re downright determined.

You have to be equally or more determined to keep critters out because having them in your house isn’t just annoying, it’s dangerous. Mice, for example, carry an airborne disease called Hantavirus. Breathing in the aerosolized virus from mouse droppings, urine or saliva can be fatal. That’s right. Fatal.

So the first thing to know is that if you do wind up with critters, you must safely clean up what they’ve left behind. The operative word here is safely. Use gloves. Since vacuuming can propel particles into the air, douse the contaminated area with water first. Not only will that make sure that no particles become airborne, it will also deactivate the virus. Finally, use bleach to disinfect the contaminated area.

Of course, sometimes you have to actually help your unwelcome housemates to leave. In addition to trapping them humanely or otherwise, you can sometimes drive them out with light and sound. A battery-powered lantern and a loud radio (especially if it’s playing heavy metal rock and roll) can quickly convince a squirrel to vacate an attic. But that’s only if that squirrel hasn’t started a family. And wow, that happens fast and furious. Squirrels can have up to two litters a year. That’s nothing compared to mice that start breeding as young as six to ten weeks, with pregnancies that last just three weeks.

In short, without the right precautions you could be playing host to a critter commune in a matter of months. So you need to prevent the problem in the first place by not rolling out a critter welcome mat.

For starters, don’t inadvertently invite pests into your home by leaving out what would be considered a buffet in Critterland. Make sure that in addition to not leaving out food, you clean up those crumbs on your counters and even the traces of dried food in your pets’ bowls. You’ll also want to store compost, as well as bird food and kibble, in rodent-proof containers and to keep bird feeders at a distance.

Of course, it’s not just a question of making your home less inviting. You need to make it harder for critters to sneak in.

Inspect your property. Fill any small cracks or holes in your house with cement or plaster reinforced with fine steel wool. If your exterior needs more extensive repairs, make sure those happen.

Screen off openings around gas and cable line, dryer and roof vents, and air ducts. You can find commercial vent screens for dryers that keep animals out without allowing lint buildup. Roof-vent caps can help keep squirrels at bay.

If you’re not sure where the critters are getting in, a dusting of flour in your house can help you track them. Of course, that means even more clean up. But at least flour isn’t toxic.

Outside, stacks of firewood and compost piles, as well as lawn and garden or construction debris, create lovely habitats that are a hop, skip and jump from your interior. Bushes and trees closer than six to eight inches from your house or garage also invite trouble.

Avoid providing critters with watering holes—whether big or small—close to your house. Fix any leaks; get rid of any standing water. And if you’ve putting in a hot tub, you probably won’t want it right outside your bedroom slider. There’s just nothing like critters using your spa as a personal pool or toilet to kill the romance and undermine relaxation.

In short, when it comes to critters just say no. If controlling these pests seems too daunting—or if you simply need advice or a little sympathy from someone who really understands what you’re up against—don’t hesitate to contact your Caretaking Commander. I look forward to your call.

 

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 September 24, 2012 in Fall, Published Articles, Sunriver Scene by ShannonNo Comments »

As printed in the Sunriver Scene – September 2012 Edition by Shannon Bassett

We read over and over about how important it is to do home maintenance.  What does that mean?  What will it cost and is it worth it?  The National Association of Realtors and Coldwell Banker estimate home maintenance runs 1.5-4% of the value of your home.  That might sound like a lot, but spending money on annual maintenance can increase longevity of your major appliances and systems and thus increase the value of your home in relation to one that is not maintained. The consequences of failing to maintain your home’s infrastructure negatively affect its value and typically results in increased maintenance costs.

One Central Oregonian delayed all his maintenance, never doing anything until absolutely necessary in a misguided attempt to save money.  As a result his furnace didn’t last as long as it should have, and the last minute replacement was almost a third more expensive than it would have been if he had planned ahead.  Annual professional care and filter changing could have added years to the life of his furnace.  The damage didn’t stop there. Because he didn’t take care of his sprinklers, he ended up with a flooded yard and foundation, which created not just one giant bill but two. When you add in his repair, which cost hundreds of dollars along with the sky high water bill, total cost of his negligence on this one single issue was close to a thousand dollars. Still not learning from his mistakes, he skipped annual deck maintenance and wound up having to replace a significant portion of the rotted boards, which cost him several thousand dollars.  His attempts to save money ended up costing him more than four times what a proactive owner would have paid.

With the guidance of Home Fridays, the home caretaker service I run, another owner is proactive about maintaining her home including annual maintenance on the furnace, air conditioning, regular deck maintenance, roof inspection and even replacing the water heater prior to the end of its life.  Consequently she has spent a smaller amount of money annually and escaped all the big ‘urgent disaster’ related bills. All major systems in her home work well and she is able to plan for system replacement in advance.

When looking at the dollars spent over time by the two owners, the deferred maintenance homeowner spent more than four times as much fixing and repairing problems as the diligent homeowner.  New furnaces in the dead of winter are much more expensive to replace then getting five to ten additional years out of the existing furnace and planning replacement during the off season.  The deferred home will continue to need money to repair other ignored areas including exterior damage from a neglected painting schedule.

The bad news doesn’t stop there. The overall the value of the deferred maintenance home has been negatively impacted by the large list of items in need of repair. Don’t let that happen to you.   Invest in your home’s upkeep annually to keep your total costs down and your home’s value up.

Annual Maintenance Major Systems Check List

 

  • Furnace – Fall service check by a professional and regular filter changes will keep your furnace running smoothly.  A properly maintained furnace has a lifespan of 15-20 years.  A warm house is a good thing.

 

  • Air Conditioning – Spring service check will help keep your unit going for an estimated 12-15 years.  Annual service is important to check the refrigerant levels.  If coolant levels fall low, the unit can burn out quickly and require costly replacement.

 

  • Water Heaters – Water heaters should be examined for leaks or rusting on a regular basis. Lifespan is estimated at 10-11 years and proactive replacement is recommended.  Water sloshing around the floors from a failed water heater is the last thing anyone wants to experience or pay for.

 

  • Roof Maintenance and Replacement – The lifespan of a roof varies by the style and materials averaging 15 years.  Inspect the roof annually for loose or broken shingles or tiles.  Simple repair can help reduce future problems such as leaks or tiles susceptible to wind damage.

 

  • Decks – Wooden decks suffer from the fluctuating temperatures, dry climate and snow.  Annual sanding and sealing will maintain the integrity of the deck and delay full replacement.  Skipping over this annual step will lead to rotting deck structures, buckling and cracking boards and eventually an unsafe deck.

 

  • Exterior Paint – Paint takes a beating in Central Oregon and rarely lasts the advertised 15 years. A low quality exterior paint used on southern exposure might last just a few years.  Review the paint annually for signs of fading, cracking and peeling.  When repainting do not take shortcuts on preparation, materials or temperature to achieve the longest possible life.  Putting off painting will expose the wood house structure to greater failure.

 

  • Caulk – Filling the cracks around your siding and windows with caulk creates a barrier between the environment and your home.  Caulking material tends to dry out, shrink and crack, however, compromising the protection barrier. Inspect the caulk around your home and replace any areas of shrinking or pulling away on the windows or exterior siding.  This will protect the wood from exposure and rot.

 

  • Driveway – Blacktop driveways crack over time with the changing temperatures.  Repairing the cracks every few years and skim coating by a professional can prevent or postpone a full replacement.

 

As Home Friday’s Caretaking Commander, I take care of many homes and preventative upkeep is a priority for all.   I have seen over and over the benefits of staying current on maintenance.  Deck maintenance is cheap in comparison to total deck replacement.  The lower overall cost as well as the reduction in ‘emergencies’ far outweighs the potential headaches, cold nights and concern.  Put a plan in place to review your home and keep the maintenance current. Sustaining the investment in your home through proactive maintenance will mean fewer expensive surprises in the repairs department down the line.

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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As printed in the August 2012 Sunriver Scene

By Shannon Bassett – Caretaking Commander, Home Fridays

No one stays home all the time. Do you have a built-in system to cover you for accidents or emergencies? A guest breaks a faucet and doesn’t know how to shut off the water. A quick look at a list on the refrigerator will immediately show who to call for the repair and more importantly where the water shut off is. If you have an updated list posted that is.

Whether a caretaker is checking on the house, a guest or renter is staying there, or you and your family members are in residence, having an updated contact list can make the difference of solving the problem quickly or allowing more damage to occur while you try to identify the correct course of action. Depending on the type of problem, such as running water, waiting time could be costly. Hire a professional to take care of the details or identify all the trades and create a relationship for potential emergencies and regular maintenance.

Here is the Contact List I use for emergencies. You will want to fill in your blanks for things such as insurance, neighbor contacts, water shut-off and electrical panel locations;

 

Police Fire or Medical Emergency— 911
Sunriver Police Non-Emergency—– (541) 593-1014
Sunriver Fire Non-Emergency——- (541) 593-8622
Deschutes Sheriff Non-Emergency– (541) 693-6911
Water and Sewer (Sunriver Resort)- (541) 593-4197 or (541) 593-8034
Electric (Midstate Cooperative) —– (541) 536-2126 or (541) 536-2165
Natural Gas (Cascade)————— (888) 522-1130 or (800) 426-0242
Garbage——————————- (541) 382-6660
Sunriver Owners Association——– (541) 593-2411
Sunriver Lodge ———————- (866) 482-3909
Pest Control (Alpine Pest)———– (541) 389-4942
Plumber (Bryan Young Plumbing)— (541) 317-5852
Tree Removal (Spring River Tree)– (541) 526-7501
Snow Removal (Quality Irrigation)– (541) 593-0344
Road Conditions———————- www. tripcheck. com
Web Weather Cam——————- http://tinyurl. com/7qbz9fx
Your Insurance Agent—————-  
Your Alarm Company—————-  
House Caretaker (Home Fridays)— (541) 317-3088
Neighbor——————————  

Electrical Panel Location————–

Water Shut-Off Location————–

It is not enough to keep your personal list is up to date, you also want to make sure those people who might need to provide you with emergency or other service have the most current information related to you home. When a neighbor spots a broken window at your house and wants to let you know,  a call to Sunriver Owners Association (SROA) can quickly get a message to you as long as your contact information is current. So set your mind at ease and make sure your emergency contacts are up to date with SROA. You actually get a twofer with this update since both SROA as the Sunriver Police Department use the same database of owner information. Update your information by calling SROA (541)593-2411.

Of course there is only so much you can do when you are dealing with a vacation home from afar. How do you cover issues when you are not around?  I had one homeowner who had planned to fly over from the East Coast to take care of a ‘cold alert’ alarm. He was right to worry about the possibility of broken pipes, but I told him to sit tight and let me handle it.   The money he saved by not having to miss work or purchasing last minute plane reservations more than paid for my charges.  It is hard to handle emergencies when you are far from Sunriver but help is available.

Having a local caretaker will simplify the emergency plan for your home. A good caretaking company will have established relationships with all the vendors and be able to prioritize your emergency repairs if needed. It also simplifies the list of who to call when something happens. One simple call to your caretaker should get everything resolved. Take a little time and line up your caretaking team. Hiring a professional to take care of the details, protect your property and manage its maintenance can put the vacation back in 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 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 November 29, 2010 in Fall, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

This time of year as you drive around Central Oregon you may notice many of the homes have funny white Styrofoam blocks around the foundation.  When building in this area all foundations have air vents so you can get a flow of air under the house.  Many of the vents have doors but over the years, the doors break and they don’t do much.  They are little plastic doors and crack and fall out.  When the vents are open during the hot weather – no big deal.  But come fall and winter as the temperatures sink, time to close up the vents. 

The plastic foam inserts close up the vents so no cold air is getting under the house.  Many water lines run under the house and if you don’t close those vents – you will get a nice cold crawl space followed by frozen pipes.  The foundation inserts are not very expensive — frozen pipes can cost you a small fortune.   Closing the vents can also help lower the cost of heating the home. 

At Home Fridays we spend a good part of November prepping for winter including closing all foundation vents and installing the Styrofoam inserts.  The inserts can be used year to year (if you don’t toss them during a summer garage cleaning).  Have you put in your inserts?   It is below freezing today – I hope you are all toasty and warm.

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Posted on October 24, 2010 in Fall, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

It is that time of year again and we are busy at Home Fridays prepping for the season.  Have you taken care of your winterization?   Here is a small list of what we are doing;

  • Closing foundations vents (so the cold air doesn’t freeze the pipes in the crawl space).  Putting in foam inserts. 
  • Cleaning the gutters of all the pine needles.  
  •  Fall cleanup of the yards – trimming the bushes/trees back, cleaning the needles and leaves up. 
  • Winterizing the sprinkler system to prevent line breaks. 
  • Disconnecting the garden hoses and moving into the hoses into the garage.
  • Annual furnace maintenance and filter change.   Every time someone avoids this they just end up with a big repair bill during the winter – maintenance is so much easier and can prolong the life of the furnace. 
  •  Of course we want to make sure the heat is on as well.  It is amazing how many times people leave the heat off, it is 70 degrees out side and then just a few days later -snowing!  

Of course each home is unique and there are special procedures for every home.  We just want to make sure everyone is ready for the big winter.

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Posted on August 25, 2010 in Fall by ShannonNo Comments »

There is a saying about the weather here in Central Oregon.  If you don’t like it wait 10 minutes and it will change.   Such a true statement about our weather right now.  With fall in the air we are experiencing some extreme weather swings – below freezing at night and record highs in the 90’s.  Hard on the yard and hard on the house.  Do you leave the heat on or the A/C?   If you can set both on it is best to put the heat to kick on if the house gets below 55.  Then the A/C if it gets about 80.   A house that gets much hotter then 80 is at risk to damage the artwork, the wallboard, the floors.  And of course the temperature control is always on the main floor with the upstairs is so often much hotter.  I had one owner who had some puckering in her wood floor and some art work curling as a result of a too hot house.  And don’t get me started on the problems with the cold.  It is unlikely now to have any problems with freezing – it takes about 3 days of hard freeze to break a pipe.  But of course I always opt for ‘better safe then sorry’.  

At Home Fridays we are watching the temps closely and monitoring each home.  Some homes are in the shade and really holding on to those cold temps.  They will have the heat turned on to 55.   Others are in full sun and still staying very warm – for those the A/C is set to a high temp.   It’s all in the details!

Another concern is watering the yard when the temps are too low.  We like to adjust the sprinkler systems to water later in the day this time of year.  Nothing worse then creating an ‘ice lawn’ with a 4am watering.

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Posted on November 7, 2008 in Fall by ShannonNo Comments »

As we go into winter it is always a good idea to have all the systems and structures checked.  All the repairs and maintenance taken care of before the big snow and the severe temperatures.  Below is a list from David Baillargeon of Casced View Home Inspections.      www.cascadeview.net

Spring and Fall Maintenance Punch List

Clean gutters and downspouts. Ensure that downspouts are secure, and that the discharge of the

Downspouts is appropriate. Remove debris from window and foundation wells.

Carefully inspect the condition of shower enclosures. Repair or replace deteriorated grout and

Caulk. Ensure that water is not escaping the enclosure during showering. Check below all

Plumbing fixtures for evidence of leakage.

Repair or replace leaking faucets or shower heads.

Secure loose toilets, or repair flush mechanisms that become troublesome.

Examine the roof for evidence of damage to roof coverings, flashings and chimneys.

Look in the attic (if accessible) to ensure that roof vents are not obstructed. Check for evidence

Of leakage, condensation or vermin activity. Level out insulation if needed.

Trim back tree branches and shrubs to ensure that they are not in contact with the house.  Watch

Out for power lines, use caution and never touch a downed or secure power line!

Inspect the exterior walls and foundation for evidence of damage, cracking or movement. Watch

For bird nests or other vermin or insect activity.

Survey the basement and/or crawl space walls for evidence of moisture seepage.  Call your local home inspector

If you do not feel comfortable with this.  CVHI performs maintenance inspections.

Look at overhead wires coming to the house. They should be secure and clear of trees or other

Obstructions.

Ensure that the grade of the land around the house encourages water to flow away from the

Foundation.

Inspect all driveways, walkways, decks, porches, and landscape components for evidence of

Deterioration, movement or safety hazards.  Fill all cracks in pavement or concrete to avoid water intrusion

And further cracking or deterioration.  Use sand on walkways in the winter and not ice melting products as

These will damage your concrete.

Clean windows and test their operation. Improve caulking and weather-stripping as necessary.

Watch for evidence of rot in wood window frames. Paint and repair window sills and frames as

Necessary.

Test all ground fault circuit interrupter.  GFCI’S

Shut off isolating valves for exterior hose bibs in the fall, if below freezing temperatures are

Anticipated and have the sprinkler systems blown out by a licensed landscape contractor.

Test the Temperature and Pressure Relief (TPR) Valve on water heaters.  If the drain line leaks after testing a replacement

Valve should be installed by a plumber

Inspect for evidence of wood boring insect activity. Eliminate any wood/soil contact around the

Perimeter of the home.

Test the overhead garage door opener, to ensure that the auto-reverse mechanism is responding

Properly. Clean and lubricate hinges, rollers and tracks on overhead doors.

Replace or clean exhaust hood filters.

Clean, inspect and/or service all appliances as per the manufacturer’s recommendations.

ANNUALLY

Replace smoke detector batteries and test alarms.

Have the heating cooling and water heater systems cleaned and serviced, by licensed HVAC contractors

Have chimneys inspected and cleaned. Ensure that rain caps and vermin screens are secured.

Examine the electrical panels, wiring and electrical components for evidence of overheating.

Ensure that all components are secure. Flip the breakers on and off to ensure that they are not

Sticky.

If the house utilizes a well, check and service the pump and holding tank. Have the water quality

Tested. If the property has a septic system, have the tank inspected (and pumped as needed).

If your home is in an area prone to wood destroying insects (termites, carpenter ants, etc.), have

The home inspected by a licensed specialist. Preventative treatments may be recommended in

Some cases. 

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Posted on September 20, 2008 in Fall by ShannonNo Comments »

If you use natural gas to heat or cool your home, get ready for a cold shock. Oregon’s Public Utility Commission was told Tuesday that gas prices are about to go up – a lot.

Natural gas analysts told the commission during a briefing that prices could go up this fall between 15 percent and 40 percent.  Yikes!!!!   http://www.theoutlookonline.com/news/story.php?story_id=121616606620737100

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