Posted on January 17, 2013 in Central Oregon Magazine, Disasters, Published Articles, Tips, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

Top 10 Weather Management Tools

 By Shannon Bassett, Published in Central Oregon Magazine January 2013

We are in the thick of winter with every day bringing a new weather challenge, mountains of snow, cold temperatures and the occasional warm sunny day.  Are you managing the changing of temperatures and the freezing and melting of the snow?

As one of the area’s top property managers, I have to make sure the homes I look after are ready for whatever winter brings. My top 10 items will help you through the remaining cold months without breaking the bank (or your neck on an icy driveway!).

  • Furnace Control – Keep warm with easily      automated furnace controls that guide you through improved efficiency. The      new Nest Learning Thermostat will learn your average daily and weekly habits      and adjust the temperature up and down as needed, even lowering      temperatures when you leave home. Temperature can also be monitored and      adjusted from anywhere through Wi-Fi.  The Nest sells for $250 and      can be purchased at Amazon.

 

  • Cold and water alerts – During extended      time away from home through the winter season, the addition of cold and      water sensors to your alarm system is well worth the money. Temperature      and water sensors can be added to existing alarm systems and run about  $75. If your house dips below a set temperature (usually 45 degrees) you will be notified with a phone call. The water alert also triggers a call or message to you when water is detected in sensitive areas allowing you time to get the situation resolved, hopefully before any serious damage has occurred!

  • Garage door thresholds – Melting snow      and rain getting under the garage doors is easily preventable with the      installation of a garage door storm threshold. Of course, my property      management team and I have had experience when even that won’t hold back      the water and sand bags are the only solution, but this is a good      preventative measure for an average snow melt.

 

  • Heated walkway mats – I love these silly things that melt the snow, allowing for a safe walk to the front door. The old salted sidewalk method of melting snow can cause issues for your pets and damage the concrete. With the mats, simply plugging them in will melt      your snow and make it safe for your guests and the mailman. Expect to pay anywhere from $50 – $300, depending on mat size, from Home Depot or Amazon.

 

  • Snow scoops and shovels – If there is      more snow than your heated mats can handle, you might need a new shovel.      Don’t settle for the one in the garage when there are so many      revolutionary new models out on the market that reduce time and back      strain. The new shovels have ergonomic shapes, bigger blades and even      wheels to help you move the snow. I love the Snow Wolf Wheeled Snow Shovel      from Amazon $129.  A large wheel on      the shovel takes all the back strain out of clearing a big long      driveway.  Who says shoveling snow can’t be fun?

 

  • Snow Rake – As the snow piles up, you need to prevent ice dams by keeping the eaves clear and make sure the melting snow has a path off the roof. A new tool has simplified this previously nasty task. No more teetering around on ladders. A telescoping snow rake will let you remove the snow yourself safely from the ground.

  • Heat Tape – Installing electric heat tape on your home’s eaves, gutters and downspouts will prevent the      freezing and ice dams. Removing an ice dam is not a fun task. It requires      shovels, ice picks and sometimes heat. An ounce of prevention is better      than several pounds of ice weighing down your gutters, to say nothing of   the water that would probably back up into your house!

  • Electric snow thrower – When the snow piles up, getting out the gas powered snow blower takes more than a little  elbow grease. Electric snow throwers are smaller, lighter and easier to use for clearing the sidewalk, walkways and driveway.  Prices vary from $100 – $300 depending on the size. You might have so much fun that you’ll want to clear the neighbor’s driveways as well.

 

  • Emergency kit and candles – It never hurts to have the candles and matches nearby along with any other emergency supplies. But you’ll need more than that. Lose your source of heating and you’ll quickly feel like you’re living inside a refrigerator.  If blankets and jackets aren’t sufficient for what could be a few days of  a power outage, then back up heat such as a Mister Heater or a generator will help put your mind at ease and keep the cold at bay.

 

  • When all else fails, be sure to have your snow removal company, furnace repairman and home managers phone numbers on hand to come in and save the day.

Add these items to your winter management arsenal and have fun with the changing weather.  Before you know it, we will be getting ready for spring and the back aches of snow removal will be a distant memory.

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 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

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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.

 

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Posted on October 5, 2012 in Disasters, Questions When Hiring, Tips by ShannonNo Comments »

The Bend Bulletin reports new legislation will penalize home and business owners if they have false alarms . Fees will increase with the number of false alarms but the exact dollar amounts have not been defined. Avoiding the fines with no false alarms is the ideal. However, real life is not like that. At Home Fridays we have worked with our alarm providers to make sure the alarm call comes first to us. Then we can ask lots of questions – is there a motion detector going off in addition to a window or door? Does the path of movement show someone is in the house or is it a single point going off? If there is a path of movement then a response is necessary. If it is a single window alarm, a visit by Home Fridays staff can check it out. This is helping us to keep the costs of false alarms down for our clients. If you don’t have someone checking on your home, how are you going to avoid false alarm fees? Call us at 541.317.3088 and we can help you with a solution.

 

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Posted on September 27, 2012 in Tips by ShannonNo Comments »

A  new client recently introduced me to the idea of filling the empty freezer space with boxes of packing peanuts.  The freezer doesn’t work as hard when it is full and thus uses  less energy.  The evidence is anecdotal but easy to try and relevant for all those empty second home freezers.  Here is an article about the idea http://www.mgservices.ca/newsletter_freezer_blocking.htm

An idea worth trying!

 

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