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.

 

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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 September 27, 2011 in A La Carte Services, Disasters, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

With our extreme winters here in Central Oregon it is particularly critical that each house is “winterized”.  Home Fridays offers this service to all of our clients.  Winterizing is much more than just putting on foundation vent and faucet covers.

Winterizing Prep includes

  • Install foundation vent and faucet covers.  You want to keep the crawl space warm.  It protects the pipes and helps to keep the heating bills down. 
  • Bring in the hoses and anything else outside that will do better in the house!
  • Paint kept in the garage should be moved into a warm area if you want to maintain it.  We usually put the paint around the water heater or in a laundry room. 
  • Annual furnace maintenance is critical to keeping the house warm. 
  • Check that heat tape on eaves and gutters is in working order.
  • Close the blinds – just another way to keep in warmer inside.

 

Ongoing Winter Tasks:

Regular snow plowing as the weather dictates.  Home Fridays also schedules snow plowing and shoveling.   A safe and clear path to the house is essential for keeping an eye on things. 

Tree and branch removal as necessary.  When severe winds hit we usually have broken limbs in trees or trees down.  Home Fridays partners with one of the most experienced Arborists in Central Oregon to take care of these issues.

Power outages are also a part of winter’s wrath!  When we are doing house checks we reset the clocks and check all appliances including hot tubs that might be affected by the power outage.

Monitoring ice dams; as the snow melts and starts to run off the house it then gets cold again – either dropping temperatures inside or the cooler eaves of the home.  Then it freezes.  The next time the snow starts melting it doesn’t run all the way off the house – it runs into the frozen ice dam and pools. Heat tape is one way to prevent these ice damns.  Another is to work with a local roofer to get the ice damn broken up and begin the melting process (if Mother Nature cooperates).  Left ignored they can do a great deal of damage.       

Roof/ Ceiling Inspection on a weekly basis allow Home Fridays to keep on top of things.  The weather here can push up tiles as the result of an ice damn or even tear off parts of a roof in heavy wind storms. 

Fireplace lighting and maintenance.  When Mr. Winter hits us with our first big snowfall it is the time to turn on your inviting and cozy fireplace.  Regular maintenance with cleaning, servicing can prevent potential fire hazards.   

Home Fridays will be reminding you regarding all of these tips as winter approaches. We recommend winterization of your home to keep your investment here in Central Oregon safe and worry free!

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