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

 

 

 

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Posted on April 12, 2013 in A La Carte Services, Disasters, Spring by ShannonNo Comments »

It is a busy time of year at HF – of course I always say that.  You just never know what will need attention next!

Snow Tires -We are trying to get all the snow tires changed over to summer tires on the cars.  Yes I missed the date again – and I always do that on purpose.  It seems we have the best snow storms right before the deadline to get the tires off.  Then the madness ensues with everyone in town trying to get their tires changed over on the same day.  April 1st is the deadline, so I always wait a week or two to start switching over the tires.

Spring Yard Cleanup – It is time to start undoing the winter damage to the lawns.  That means thatching, clearing leaves and the dreaded pine needles.  Aeration is a great idea to bring back the health of the lawn and of course spirnklers will go back soon.  We also have a few owners with bigger projects – removing grass and putting in Xeriscape (refer to landscaping and gardening in ways that reduce or eliminate the need for supplemental water from irrigation.)  While costly for the initial installation, it can really save in the long run and is more consistent with our desert environment.  Of course weeds are getting cleaned up at other homes, bark mulch put down and next week the sprinklers may get turned on (weather dependent of course).  NEWS FLASH – The City of Bend has moved up the timing on the Annual Backflow testing.  Typically the paperworks was due at the end of the summer, this year they are requiring at the beginning of the season.  Here is a link to more information http://www.bend.or.us/index.aspx?page=182     Be sure to schedule your test!

Failing Fridges – We had a clients refrigerator fail this week.  All the food was a total loss.  The house had a nice aroma as well.  Of course all appliances have a life cycle and nothing lasts forever.  Thankfully we were able to toss out the food, clean out the fridge and air out the house.  We have measured the fridge and the owners are shopping remotely for a replacements.  By the time they arrive, the new fridge will be in place.  While failing appliances are not ideal – at least this problem was caught and cleaned up before the owners arrive.  Can you imagine opening up your home after a long absence to the smell and rot of a dead refrigerator and freezer?  And just think of the amount of your vacation that would be dedicated to fixing the issue.  Once again, it is nice to have someone there to find the problems and keep an eye on the house!

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Posted on April 3, 2013 in A La Carte Services, Disasters, Spring by ShannonNo Comments »

An interesting article ran in the Bend Bulletin last weekend about cleaning out the dryer hoses.  For most second homes, not that much laundry is done.  But for large houses, in a busy rental pool.  The dryers are working overtime!

Check out the article for great information on the preventing vent fires http://www.bendbulletin.com/article/20130326/NEWS0107/303260313/

If you use your dryer a great deal – be safe and get your vents and flex hoses cleaned out.

 

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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!

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Posted on March 21, 2013 in A La Carte Services, Spring, Tips by ShannonNo Comments »

Tanya Carlsen of Carlseng Design is our guest blogger this week.  She is a Landscape designer who has done some beautiful work for friends and clients.  Check out her advice on what to do in the garden now that we have Spring Fever!

 

Happy Spring

What a fantastic way to begin the spring season, with a day of rain and rainbows.  In Central Oregon it is sometimes difficult to tell when spring has finally arrived, but not this year.  We will have more freezing weather so hold off on your tomatoes and such, but there are still many other things to plan and to do.

 

Some perennials and grasses are starting to leaf out and last years foliage should be cut back.  With your perennials like Catmint and Daisy, cut all the old foliage off completely.  For ornamental grasses such as Fescue, cut back to within about two to three inches depending on how big or tall they are.  For taller grasses such as Karl Foerster, cut back to about six inches or less depending on size.  You do see some grasses cut back to about one foot and that is unnecessary and unsightly, they do not need that old foliage anymore and it gets in the way of a great looking grass.

 

Get a jump start on tackling those pesky weeds before they get bigger, flower or go to seed.  Some of my favorite weeding tools are the Hula Hoe and the Dandelion Weeder stick.  For me spring weeding is a time to do a check up on the garden soil.  How loose or tough is it, how many worms are there, what is it’s condition?  Once you get the weeds out, roots and all, put down some healthy compost around your plants.  For a more sparse landscape, put down some compost just around the plants, for a more heavily planted area or your veggie bed, spread the compost all over, about one inch deep depending on the soil’s needs.  I add compost every year to my veggie bed and so one good deep one inch layer is enough.  Since my garden area is small, I use the bagged compost available at the local nurseries.  My favorite is ‘Harvest Supreme’ with chicken manure, kelp meal and other fantastic nutritious ingredients.  Healthy soil makes healthy plants so do not skimp on amendments.  I have also been using worm castings as an additional amendment and it makes the plants really pop!

 

Pruning is one of my secret passions and I was so happy when a client told me last night he wanted me to come over and prune.  Yeah!  Remember when pruning, first cut broken or diseased branches, then rubbing or crossing ones, then prune for structure and light.

 

We are lucky that there are so many wonderful local nurseries providing a great variety of product.  It is still a little early for them to order in much stock, but soon the spring blooming plants will be flowering and it is a great time to go select some spring color for your garden.  Some of my favorites are Witch Hazel (yellow flowers like Forsythia but with a really nice structure), Pasque Flower, Flowering Almond and Serviceberry shrubs or trees.

 

Plan now for landscape improvements so you can have them done to enjoy this summer.  Consider adding more edible plants, bird friendly and native plants for a more diverse, productive and alluring landscape.  Wondering what to do with all that lawn you have or that corner you haven’t ever touched?  Let’s get together and plan to make your landscape one that meets your needs and brings a smile to your face every time you see it.

 

For more gardening, design and landscape help please give me a call at 541-610-6961 or send me an email at tanya@carlsengdesigns.com and I will help you create the landscape you’ve always wanted!

 

Have a great day and a great season.

 

Tanya Carlsen
Carlseng Designs
Landscape Design, Consultation & Gardening
tanya@carlsengdesigns.com
www.carlsengdesigns.com
www.carlsengdesigns.blogspot.com
541-610-6961

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Posted on January 23, 2013 in Central Oregon Magazine, Published Articles, Tips, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

By Shannon Bassett,  as seen in Central Oregon Magazine Winter 2013

  http://brianpagedesign.com/comagwi13/#/86

 

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!).

 

  1. 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.
  2. 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! 
  3. 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.  
  4. 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.
  5. 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?
  6. 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.    
  7. 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!  
  8. 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.  
  9. 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.  
  10. 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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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 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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