In 2004, we were living in Seattle when we bought a “get-away” in Bend. The plan was to move here in eight years but our schedule quickly accelerated.  The wonderful people, beautiful scenery, sunshine and the Fourth of July Pet Parade won me over.  Our second home became our primary residence within the year.

We quickly learned that homes in Central Oregon endure harsh weather conditions all year – hot and arid in the summer, cold, snowy and windy in the winter and all of the variations of rain for which Oregon is famous.

As our concern for our vacation house grew, I called all the area property management companies to see if they could help us maintain it. No one was interested unless we joined a rental program. We didn’t want other people in the house. We just wanted to be sure that nothing was leaking, that our yard was maintained, and that all of our stuff was still there.

In the course of searching for a caretaker for our second home in Bend, I spoke to friends and co-workers. I began to see that there are a lot of busy professional people wanting to enjoy Central Oregon with not enough time to maintain their vacation property. Thus was a business idea inspired. Why not offer to do the weekend job list for clients? This would allow us to stay in Bend and keep our house.

My job at that time (mergers and acquisitions in the homebuilding and REIT industry) involved a ridiculous amount of travel. One day I called home from a hotel room and literally had no idea where I was. That’s when I decided to pursue my own business. My professional experience included owning commercial investment properties, residential rentals and second homes. I have also lived out of state and out of the country while maintaining my residence and second homes, so I understand remote home ownership. Combined with my project management it was a natural fit to start a home management business.

We considered several names for the business but didn’t want to sound like a security, cleaning or rental agency.  Our services were unique in the market and we needed something a little different.  “I will be Home Friday” (a happy idea in and of itself) evolved into Home Fridays.

By 2006 we were both in Central Oregon full time and Home Fridays had taken off. In the early years we focused on weekly house checks, security and prepping for homeowners’ arrivals. I was a sole business owner doing it all myself.

I began searching for a team of vendors who I could trust to be available on demand. They had to be top notch, reliable and talented. In 2005 the building industry was booming. Contractors were a dime a dozen and quality work was not a requirement for being successful. By doing the research and testing most of the vendors on my own remodel and house projects, I found the best of the best. By creating ongoing rewarding relationships, I was able to get great response times and high-caliber services for my clients and steady work for the vendors. I set out to create a win-win situation for the contractors and the homeowners.

Time and again my vendor network has come through in clutch situations. Twice in the last 10 years a furnace has gone out on Christmas, and both times my vendor has been available and shown up to warm up my clients. I can get a response to a water leak in 30 minutes.  I have priority appointments for all my clients with my vendor network.  They answer my calls 24/7 and always make time for my clients. When the economy took a downturn, my vendors continued providing great service. We all worked together and the clients benefited.

From my own need and experience, a business was born to help owners – who are not local – take care of their homes. We have grown over the years and take care of some rentals as well as homes that are not rented. Almost 10 years later, Home Fridays thrives and our presence can be seen in Sunriver, Caldera, Crosswater, Bend and Eagle Crest.  Creating a win-win situation for owners and Home Fridays has created a lasting success.

In thinking of my own experiences, keeping a second home really is kind of a pain in the neck.  For me, however, investment in a second home set in motion a sequence of events that changed my life in many ways. I stand as proof that a good idea combined with a lot of hard work can bring success. The best part is that I get to deal with different people every day, make new friends and am having a lot of fun.

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail
Posted on May 23, 2013 in Published Articles, Spring, Sunriver Scene, Tips by ShannonNo Comments »

A recent column from the Sunriver Scene on deck maintenance by Shannon Bassett.

 

It is time to think about those decks! The sun is already out and the damage is evident fro a year or two of harsh weather. Snow, ice, freeze and heat; the weather cycle of Central Oregon does a number on our decks.  The best solution is to take care of the decks every year.

In one home the owner really does not want to spend the money on taking care of his deck.  As a result of ignoring the deck the boards are warping, the understructure is rotting and the entire thing will need to be replaced.  The cost of his annual ‘money saving’ will end up with a very expensive full deck replacement.

Another home owners decks looks great on the surface. But an inspection revealed a woodpecker home in the structure beneath.  Without an inspection, the entire deck could have collapsed at an inopportune time.  With the support beam replace, the deck is once again safe and ready for a summer of fun.

Steps for deck maintenance;

  1. Annual Inspection – Look at the surface for signs of rough wear ad tear. Inspect underneath the deck if accessible. Confirm the supports are in good conditions with no signs of rot or shifting. If boards are warping or cupping and the overall condition is poor, sanding is in order.  If the deck looks like it did last year and no signs of peeling stain or raw wood, you are in luck and can skp maintenance this year. Fading, peeling and signs of wear around heavy traffic areas?  Plan to wash the deck and apply stain. Compromised structure due to bird activity, rot or shifting should be looked at by a contractor for replacement.
  2. Timing – It is important to plan your deck projects when we are above freezing. While some of the stains are rated for colder temperatures, for the best results apply in warm but not hot or freezing weather. The second and MOST important timing is around the pollen bloom. It is critical to complete the deck project before or after the pollen bloom. If pollen is left on the deck and sealed (or get into the stain during application) it will create black dots throughout the deck.  This is pollen bloom and can only be removed through sanding.
  3. Wash – Remove the dirt, leaves and sap with a good scrubbing.  Many companies out there like to use a power washer.  This causes splintering in the wood and removes all the soft parts of the wood. You end up with an uneven rough surface.  This will cause issues when the stain is applied as the hard areas do not absorb the product as well and the finish will not last as long. The ‘less is more’ phrase can be used as a guideline when washing your deck.  Less harsh cleaners, less concentrated chemicals and less pressure washing.  Use Oxi-Clean or another good scrubbing cleaner, a brush and some elbow grease.  Then let the deck cry completely before moving on, typically 24-48 hours.
  4. Sanding – Remove any bad stain or peeling paint applications with a good sanding job across the entire deck. Sanding will also smooth out the surface by removing a small layer of the old gray wood of the deck. This process is often necessary when trying to bring back a neglected deck. I love the system used by Webfoot Painting which sucks in all the dust and doesn’t leave a mess behind in the yard or on the house.  Without a dustless sanding system you will need to plan a cleaning of the house after the decks are completed. Sanding is not necessary annually and wit a good annual or bi-annual stain application the sanding process can be eliminated.
  5. Apply Stain– The product used is key and to hold up you want something that penetrates the wood.  Anything that builds a film on the wood such as Thomas Water Sealer will not hold up in Central Oregon. They tend to chip, peel and dry out in our tough climate. A penetrating product such as Messmer’s UV Stain or Flood CWF-UV 5 Oil work well in our climate. The penetrating products are easier to maintain and with many decks are only necessary to apply every other year.  Of course location and sun exposure on the deck will be the deciding factor.

The secret to a successful and good looking deck is annual attention.  If ignored you will be facing a much bigger and more expensive problem.  So keep your annual maintenance up, the cost down and enjoy wonderful summers on your beautiful deck for years to come.

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

 

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

Painting a home is a big investment and not something anyone wants to take lightly. An exterior paint job might hold up for 10 years or more in some parts of the country, but in Central Oregon that is not the case. With our extreme temperature swings we are lucky to get 5 years out of a really great paint job. As a result of the temperature changes the siding and trim are constantly expanding and contracting. Failing paint and exposed wood is often the result. Wood left exposed will rot, warp or cup. Once the damage is done, the only recourse is replacing the boards. The best prevention is a good paint job and regular maintenance.

The condition of the house is the best guide for when you need to paint. “The intense sun exposure Central Oregon homes receive is the main reason for paint fading. This is seen predominantly on the western and southern exposures and most noticeable with darker colors” according to Gavin Hepp of Webfoot Painting. When paint is applied during cold weather, wet conditions or with the wrong product it will fail more quickly. A single coat may have looked great when the house was first painted, but will not hold up for long and may expose the wood below to potential damage. The key to protecting your home is to find a good painting contractor and keep the exterior in tip-top shape.

Signs that it is time to paint your home;

  • Fading and discoloration
  • Bubbling and cracking of paint
  • Heavy traffic areas with peeling and chipping paint
  • Cracking and shrinking caulk leaving exposed areas around the trim and siding
  • Exposed areas of wood trim or siding

Finding the right contractor;

While price is a determining factor, it clearly should not be the only criteria. Getting recommendations from neighbors and the SROA vendor list are a great place to start. The following steps will help evaluate your painting contractors;

  1. Confirm the painter is licensed and insured. You can look up the status of a Construction Contractors Board (CCB) license and confirm no complaints have been filed against the contractor using www.Oregon.gov.
  2. How much time does the contractor spend in evaluating your job and getting to know what you are looking for?  By spending time with the painter you can make sure you have a mutual understanding on the scope. Rushing through a bid process will lead to misunderstandings in the future and possibly a ‘rushed’ painting job as well.
  3. Look at their portfolio and talk to other customers. Make sure you are comfortable with the work they have done in the past and other owners are happy.
  4. The bid should spell out the products used, the preparation process, number of paint coats, timing, cleanup and protection of your property. You don’t want to come home to a yard full of cigarette butts and trampled bushes.
  5. Confirm the warranty time frame with the painter. It won’t be the life of the paint, but you do want someone to come back and do touch-ups and finish the job within a reasonable time frame. Webfoot Painting offers a 2 year warranty on all jobs which is pretty consistent in the industry.
  6. Find out about the job completion process. The best practice is to walk through the job with the painter and identify any issues or questions to be resolved.
  7. Quality paint is very important. The cost of the materials is typically 15% of the job, while the most expensive part is the labor. Painters should be using the very best materials on your job that work with our climate. Don’t even think of scrimping on the paint materials or number of coats when protecting your investment. Webfoot Painting recommends Sherwin Williams Super Paint combined with XIM a Peel Bond Primer for our climate.
  8. Confirm you painter is covered by workers compensation insurance. If someone falls off a ladder or roof while painting your home, you don’t want that coming back as your responsibility. If a contractor has employees, then he will be covered. If he is using contractors, the responsibility for injured workers could come back to you as the homeowner.
  9. Define the timing from start to finish and coordinate something that fits with your schedule. Having all the windows covered in plastic and no access to the front door over a holiday weekend might not be ideal. The painting season is short, so be sure to get in before the weather turns.
  10. Deposits are not uncommon, but should not be excessive. Asking for more than 20% or any additional deposits is a signal the contractor does not have a healthy business. Typically a small deposit when booking the job and the remaining balance due upon completion of the paint job.

Always put quality first. Putting a little extra time into qualifying your painting contractor will pay off handsomely. You will have fewer headaches during the project and a paint job that protects your home for the long run.

 

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

 

 

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail
Posted on March 25, 2013 in Published Articles, Sunriver Scene, Tips by ShannonNo Comments »

As published in the Sunriver Scene, by Shannon Bassett, Caretaking Commander

Shopping your home owners insurance is something everyone should do on a regular basis. Are you covered for the current value of your home?  Are you paying too much?  Do you have the highest deductible possible?  I had a situation where the home owner policy had not been looked at in over 15 years. The deductible per incident was about $350. On an annual basis the owners were paying far more in premiums than necessary. A simple adjustment of the deductible and the premium reduction was enough to cover a few nice dinners at the Sunriver Lodge.

Saving money and avoiding the pitfalls of being underinsured are top of mind for most owners. Follow the steps below and make sure you are getting the most out of your insurance.

SAVING MONEY   

  1. Upgrades can save on insurance costs.  Most insurance companies give discounts for improving the safety and security of your residence.  Consider installing deadbolt locks, home security systems and alarms, smoke detectors, sprinkler systems and storm shutters.
  2. Coverage Level changes can increase or decrease your cost. Actual cash value is the lowest level of insurance, followed by replacement cost, extended replacement cost and guaranteed replacement cost. Make sure you are comparing apples to apples when comparing coverage quotes.
  3. Ask for a discount. If you have an agent that already has your business for other insurance, they may be very willing to give you a discount for adding more business. Having someone watch over the home on a weekly basis, like Home Fridays can also add savings for some companies such as Prudential.
  4. Deductibles are a great way to bring down the annual premium cost. Consumer Reports recommends getting the largest deductible available. Homeowners insurance is for the exception and should not be used for minor mishaps.
  5. Credit issues can sometimes affect rates. If this is an issue, ask your agent how much you could save if your rating improves. Work on improving your rating, and then follow up with your agent to make sure they review, and adjust your premium.

 

CHOOSING THE RIGHT COMPANY AND AGENT.

 

Communicate with people in your area, and get referrals for local agents that have a good reputation, and work in your community. These agents should be familiar with your area, and can be helpful in choosing the right products.

 

J. D.  Power and Associates conducts an annual survey of Homeowners Insurance. They look at customer satisfaction based on billing, payment, claims, interaction, policy offerings and price. This is a great resource to use when comparing different policies. http://tinyurl. com/ahcvxpc

 

FOLLOW UP!

Don’t buy an insurance policy and assume that all is good for life. Follow up with your agent anytime there are major changes to your property or valuables. At least once per year, review your policy with your agent, and make sure your assets are still covered properly.

 

This visit also provides you an opportunity to learn about any new products that might be a better fit for you, and to make sure you are getting the most for your money. Most companies offer discounts the longer you are a customer. Use this visit to ask about benefits you might be entitled to for being a valued customer!

 

Shopping for insurance does not sound like a fun project, but can actually be very simple, cost effective, and give you lots of peace of mind.  It takes time, but in the end you either get a better product at better price, or you will confirm that your original choice was the best!

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

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

 

Crowded airports, delayed flights, congested freeways and road rage drivers! Oh sure, you love the holidays, but there is little to celebrate about holiday travel if your stress doesn’t end once you reach your destination. Here are some tips to make your holidays as festive as they are relaxing.

Holiday Décor

Deck the halls the easy way. Delegate.

Holiday lights are a simple way to bring a festive look to your home. I always like to light up a few trees in the yards as well, either with the c-7 or c-9 traditional glass bulbs or the newer more efficient LED lights. LED lights have a bigger upfront cost, but the savings on the electrical bills is 80% over traditional bulbs. LED lights also last ten to fifteen years compared to a three- to five-year life span for traditional lights. Either way, I always suggest that my clients contract with a local installation company. The cost ranges from $2 to $4 a linear foot, which is cheap compared to the cost of slipping on a frosty roof or ladder. A quality company such as Holiday Help Christmas Lighting (541.679.2459) will not only install your lights, they’ll take care of them by replacing burned bulbs, installing timers, taking everything down after the season ends and storing the bulbs for next year.

Of course, you won’t want to ignore the inside of your home. If you’re not in a total DIY mood, tree and house decorating services are available from a number of people around town. You can have your tree delivered and set up in your home ready to decorate when you arrive. A basic six-foot pine tree with lights can run about $100 for setup and removal, though the cost will vary based on the size of the tree and how many lights are requested. A 12-foot pine can cost almost $1,000 if you want to go really wild with the LED lights and that’s before any decorations have been installed. Of course, those LED lights will last you for the next ten to fifteen years and you’ll make back some of that investment with the savings on your electric bill.

For that instant holiday atmosphere, you can have the tree and entire house decorated inside and out before you even get there. Having a tree decorated runs about $50 per hour plus the cost of ornaments. Expect to pay about $150 for a six-foot decorated tree (tree height and the number of ornaments both impact cost). If you’re looking to extend the holiday theme to the rest of your home, Pamela Armstrong of Bend Furniture will finish out the rest of the interior. She can even provide custom-made ornaments.

Gift Giving

You don’t have to shop ‘til you drop. You can shop online instead and have your purchases delivered to your front door. If your home is empty, work with your management company and have the boxes delivered to their offices and then dropped off at your home. Imagine how much easier it will be to travel when you don’t have to stuff a bunch of gifts in your luggage or car.

You don’t even have to pack paper or ribbon. You can get your packages wrapped in the Old Mill at Bend Santa Land by the professionals from Wrap, Paper, Scissors. You won’t have to lift a finger and your packages will look amazing. Talk about a stress-free holiday!

Bon Appétit the Easy Way

Feasting is a quintessential part of merry making. But as far as cooking goes, sometimes less is more. So why not hit the restaurant scene? The Visit Bend website has a great list of restaurants categorized by price, and they note which ones are open for the holidays. Go to www.visitbend.com/Bend_Oregon_Activities_Recreation/Restaurants_Food.  If you want to stay close to home, the Grill at Crosswater and Meadows at the Lodge are great locations for holiday meals—reservations are recommended. (My advice: make them early so you know you won’t be waiting in line during the busy holiday season.)

You can also order pre-prepped holiday meals from one of the high-end markets or local restaurants and then just heat and serve. For a look at just some of your options, check out:

All of these places will provide a ‘to go’ holiday meal, so you can pretend you fixed it yourself. In fact, Tate and Tate has a location in Bend where you can pick up all kinds of prepared meals to take home and feed the family throughout your stay. I love their casseroles that are homemade and can easily be passed off as my cooking.

Want to do your own cooking? Shopping Assistance is a great way to save time. Send your shopping list to your home manager and have them stock the refrigerator for you. Imagine how nice it will be to wake up in the morning and have the eggs and orange juice waiting for you, to say nothing of the rest of the goodies you’ve ordered. And here’s a concept, your turkey will even have time to thaw.

If you really want to indulge, hire a chef to come into your home and fix your meals this holiday. For a little bit more than going out to a fancy restaurant, you can enjoy meals at home without the hassle of shopping, prepping or even cleaning up. I recently hosted a getaway trip for friends and family. Cheryl McIntosh, The Good Apple (541.280.0086) did all the cooking and it was fabulous. The food was wonderful. The fact that I hadn’t had to go shopping and could spend my time with my loved ones instead of in the kitchen was a true gift. I also recommend Pure Ingredients Personal Chef (541.550.9220).

Happy Holidays!

However you prefer to celebrate the season, I want to take this opportunity to wish you a very happy and safe celebration, and a wonderful new year.

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

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail
Posted on December 6, 2012 in Published Articles, Sunriver Scene, Tips, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

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

 

Central Oregon winters are tough on houses. As a homeowner, if you don’t protect your property and manage the ongoing issues that crop up as a result of the harsh weather, you’ll find that our winters are pretty tough on your bank account as well. Something as simple as not clearing snow off your deck in a timely fashion can cause you to lose your deck, a regular Sunriver occurrence.

That’s far from the only winter-related problem that can arise simply by deferring maintenance for a short while. One Sunriver family decided to ignore the severe ice dams that had built up on their roof until a more convenient time. Funny how ice dams—and the associated water intrusions—have their own time schedule. By the time the owners had dealt with the water damage, they had to contend with mold abatement as well. The price tag? A hefty and utterly inconvenient $50,000.

As a homeowner myself, I know how annoying it can be to have to deal with house problems. But I also know that ignoring them only makes things worse. Of course, there’s a third option. You can hire a property manager like me to deal with the problems, or better yet help prevent them from ever happening.

By taking care of homes and always being ready for cold snaps, we can help you avoid pipe freezes and we regularly catch malfunctioning furnaces before serious problems can develop. During one regular weekly house check, we discovered that the furnace wasn’t working. The temperature had dropped at 42 that day, so we knew what the night would bring. Our team’s quick response allowed us to get a furnace repairman over to the house before nightfall. When it turned out that the part needed for the repair had to be ordered, we filled the house with electric oil heaters to keep it safely warm until the furnace was back in working order.

Not everyone, of course, has a maintenance team they can rely on. The following precautions will help you safeguard your home against the cold months that lie ahead.

 

1)    HEAT – As I have said before, it is critical to maintain your furnace. So make sure to have your furnace inspected annually. Get the filters changed and have everything in working order before the cold starts.  Then set the furnace back to a minimum of 55 degrees for the winter. If you have a brand new or remodeled house, a temperature range of 60-62 will help the wood winter better.

 

2)    PIPES – To keep pipes from freezing during those brutal cold snaps we get every year, make sure that pipes that run through unheated areas like garages, lofts or attics are insulated. You also want to insulate your water tanks. Also have any dripping taps immediately repaired as a small trickle can turn into a big frozen mess that blocks and potentially even cracks your pipe.

 

3)    ROOF – Clean pine needles and debris from your home’s gutters and roof to help prevent ice dams. According to www.realestatemsn.com, you may need to use a scraper or spatula if removing the build up by hand doesn’t work. Once you’ve cleared the gutters, give them a good hose rinse, keeping an eye out for any leaks or pipes that are out of kilter. Note: I like to give the entire yard a trim right before I clean the gutters and roof.  I make sure that all tree branches are trimmed back from the house and take care of any seasonal trimming needed on the shrubs.

 

4)    IRRIGATION – Turn off and winterize your sprinklers with a blow-out, which can be performed by most local licensed landscapers or irrigation companies.  This will clear out the water in the lines and help prevent pipe cracks during the winter.

 

5)    VENTS AND FAUCETS – Close up foundation vents. Remove and store hoses. This is critical. A hose left on will cause a break in the faucet even if your faucet is freeze proof. Then cover faucets with insulated covers.  While most of the newer installed faucets are freeze proof, I like to install insulated  covers anyway because they act as a first line defense against critters. They also help ensure that I’ve remembered to remove the hose (even when I’ve gotten it back out to fill the hot tub).

 

6)    SNOW – Make sure that a snow shovel is accessible or that you at least have the number of a local snow removal company handy.  If you have a snow blower, make sure it is tuned and ready to go.  You don’t want it to be at the shop when the snow really starts falling.  If the garbage man can’t get to your trash can because of too much snow, things could get messy in a hurry.  Not to mention the ice berm at the end of the driveway that will quickly freeze up and block access to the house.

 

7)    WINDOWS – Make sure that all your windows are in good shape. You don’t want any drafts or signs of moisture.  To keep your home warmer and save on utility bills, consider investing in insulating shades. According to Hunter Douglas, “It’s a scientific fact that heat is attracted to cold. In winter months, indoor heating moves toward and escapes through windows to the outdoors, while in summertime, the outside heat flows into your home through these same windows.” Anything you can do to reduce that exchange will reduce your energy consumption and your energy bills. (By the way, you also want to reverse the direction of your fan for winter so the warm air is pushed down.  During the winter your fan blades should go clockwise.)

 

8)     CHIMNEY – Don’t forget to have your chimney cleaned if you are a frequent user.  You may not have to have your chimney swept every year, according to the Chimney Safety Institute of America, but you should definitely have it inspected. For starters who knows what’s fallen in or taken up residence there. A Level 1 inspection, which most certified chimney sweeps automatically do when they sweep your chimney, is all you need.

 

9)    SMOKE AND CO2 DETECTORS – This is a great time to make sure all the batteries are fresh.  My team and I love the new 10-year, 9-volt batteries available from Energizer and Ultralife. They buy you time and help prevent that 3 a.m. wake-up call when smoke detectors with tired batteries begin to chirp.

 

10)  OUTDOOR FURNITURE – Bring in any outdoor furniture that will weather better inside the garage or under the eaves.  Cushions will be a great home to critters if you leave them out!

 

 

If you’ve ticked off every item on the above list, chances are good that your house will survive winter in good shape. Of course, house checks by professionals provide you with an even greater safety net no matter what the time of year.

My team recently found a water leak right after the owners had left after their summer stay. It turns out that the kitchen sink had been leaking the entire time they were home. Because their garbage can covered the leak, no one in the family had noticed. Our people spotted that leak because they’re trained to look for problems. By shutting off the water right then and there, they prevented major damage.

While a slow leak doesn’t necessarily show up on your water bill, it can wreak havoc on your home. Had we not been there to spot that leak, the water could have run for months before the owners’ return, ruining the hard woods, the carpet, and even the drywall. If the leak had been on the second floor, it could have ruined the whole house.

My advice? Make sure that you’ve got an extra set of eyes checking your property spring, summer, fall and especially winter. Here’s wishing you a safe and sound season.

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.

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail
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.

 

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail
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.  

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail

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

 

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail
Posted on July 2, 2012 in Published Articles, Summer, Sunriver Scene by ShannonNo Comments »

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

 

It’s finally planting time again in Central Oregon.  But planter beware, in this zone with its risk of frost 365 days a year, you can’t plant just anything.

 

Although our Sunriver microclimate can be especially challenging, knowing what to plant will help. Here the flowers that work well include Yarrow, Purple Coneflower, California Poppy and Daisies.  Dry river beds are the perfect environment for Karlfoester Grass, Tufted Hair grass and Idaho Fescue.  Other plants commonly seen include Western Serviceberry, Kinnikinnic and Wood’s Rose. 

 

Be aware, however, that just because trees, bushes and flowers will grow here doesn’t mean that you can actually plant them. You must follow the Sunriver Owners Association rules and regulations and first get yard improvements approved by the Design Committee. Call the owners association representative at 541.593.2411 when planning for details and approval.  You can see a full list of Sunriver approved plants on the SROA website http://www.sunriverowners.org/Recommended-Plants-&-Trees~164421~13934.htm.

 

Taking care of the outside of your home is so much more than planting the approved grass and plants that will enhance the home.  Seasonal clean-up is the easiest way to prevent big problems after the long winter.  An ignored tree might end up falling on the house, clogged drains will set you up for ice dams, and broken sprinkler pipes can flood the yard, kill off your landscaping and create big water bills.  Do you have everything taken care of on your home?

 

 

Weed Control

As every gardener and homeowner knows regular weeding and keeping on top of the noxious weeds is critical to maintain an appealing landscape.  …   You might not realize however, that if you don’t eliminate noxious weeds you could actually get fined. Through hand pulling, cutting and sparingly-used chemicals you can keep all these weeds under control.

 

Sprinkler Maintenance and Monitoring

Start up sprinklers in the early season and monitor the amount of water the yard is receiving.  At the beginning of the summer you don’t need to use a lot of water.  As the heat intensifies the plants require more water so leave your sprinklers on longer.  For the beginning of the summer you won’t want to water for more than 6 -8 minutes a stretch.  Later in August extend the time to approximately 10-15 minutes per watering. When the snow starts to fly it is time to make sure those sprinklers have been winterized.  Failing to do this will wreak havoc on your system and potentially damage your plants, crack your pipes and cause flooding.

 

 

Pine Needle Removal from Roof and Gutters

Needle-covered roofs and gutters are common after the windy spring we have had.  Regular removal will keep the roofs clean and reduce the chance of future issues.

 

 

Ladder Fuel Reduction

Removal of combustible materials establishing a 15-foot firebreak around homes and decks is the goal of the Ladder Fuel Reduction Plan.  Thinning trees, removing Bitterbrush, dead vegetation, limbing and removing trees all fall within the mandates of the Ladder Fuel Reduction Plan which is defined on the SROA website on the Environmental Services page.

 

With all the landscaping advice, let’s not forget the most important thing; here’s to a great summer, enjoy.

 

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.

facebooktwittergoogle_pluspinterestmail
Next Page »