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

 

 

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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.

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Posted on June 6, 2012 in Disasters, Published Articles, Sunriver Scene by ShannonNo Comments »

Published in the June 2012 Sunriver Scene

 

Clients often ask me if they should install a security system in their vacation home. Over the last 7 years I have increasingly answered yes. Then I explain that according to neighborhoodscout. com, 1 out of every 31 Central Oregon homes will be burglarized this year. That translates to an estimated 136 homes hit in Sunriver. With the developments of the security systems and the increase in crime against property protecting your investment and investing in your peace of mind while away from your home for extended time periods just makes good sense.
Monitoring the safety and condition of your home from afar has never been easier. Cameras, temperature and water sensors, even turning your lights on and off, are just a few of the new bells and whistles that alarm systems offer. If you are not using your home every week, would you even know if someone was in there? Several years ago some not so neighborly-neighbors cleaned out everything of value in a Sunriver area house a few pieces of furniture at a time. By the time the homeowner came to visit, the place was empty. The best idea is to have someone checking on the house. The second best idea is to have an alarm.
So what does an alarm do? One, it creates an inconvenience for the burglar. When figuring out what home to break into, an alarmed home will be bypassed for the easier one down the street with no alarm. Two, the loud and uncomfortable sirens that sound when an incorrect code is entered will scare off the intruder and alert your neighbors. Once the alarm is set off a monitoring station will first call the house to make sure the alarm was not inadvertently triggered. With no answer, the alarm company will report the activity to the police and request that officers be sent out to the house.
Some of the newer available features include cold alerts where the owner receives a call if the house temperature dips below a preset number. Every year several furnaces in the homes I manage go on strike. If the homes had been left unattended with no heat, those homeowners would be looking at everything from frozen pipes to severe water damage. Luckily with alarm alerts and the regular house checking I do, all problems have been averted.
Water alerts work the same way; you’ll receive a call if a specific area is wet or a higher than normal amount of water is flowing into the home. If you don’t have a person lined up to deal with the problem, you’ll have to revamp your plans and start driving immediately. Do you really want to deal with the soggy wet carpet once you arrive at your troubled home? A double layer of protection, an alarm and a local caretaker, will help secure your asset from crime and system mishaps.
I can’t stress how important it is to have a reliable local looking after your home. Recently I arrived at a home after the alarm had been triggered and the police had declared the house safe and departed. All was well except for the fact that the sliding door had been left wide open. With the original alarm having been cleared, the welcome mat had now been thrown out for intruders. This may sound unusual to you, but it’s not. In over six years of managing property across Central Oregon, that has happened 3 times on my watch. Not to mention what the heating bill would have been with a door left open during the cold winter.
When selecting an alarm company look for a one with local presence, local repairman and a reliable central station. I had one home where a remodel with new windows meant a small change to the security system. The company had no local repairmen; consequently the house went unprotected for over two weeks while waiting for a technician to come over from Portland.
Make sure you feel confident and secure with your selected security company and their employees. You want to know who you are inviting into your home since they will be installing your system and privy to all the alarm codes. Referrals from a reliable source such as your caretaker, neighbor or realtor are best.
When choosing an alarm system, other features to look for include remote access for viewing the house or turning the alarm on and off for guests. Logging on and seeing the house temperature and adjusting remotely is great with our variable weather in Central Oregon.
Don’t be put off by price. In addition to saving money on potential replacement of stolen items and/or repairs, many insurance companies give discounts for homes with monitored alarm systems. Be sure to take advantage of this savings with your homeowners insurance and check the requirements prior to installation. Once you’ve got your alarm system installed and activated and your caretaker at the helm, you can relax almost as much as you would if you were actually here in Sunriver.

To get help with your home call me, the Caretaking Commander, at Home Fridays. I have been buying, renovating and managing residential and commercial properties for over 20 years. My locally-based company, Home Fridays (homefridays. com), offers professional home management and concierge services to vacation home owners. You can reach me at 541/317-3088 or shannon@homefridays. com.

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Posted on March 8, 2012 in Disasters, Published Articles, Sunriver Scene, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

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

No one wants to think about water emergencies. Imagine a call from a neighbor alerting you to water running down your driveway and icicles on the inside of the window. One faulty furnace caused an interior drop in temperature to a vacant home. Several months passed before the problem was discovered. Water saturated the upstairs, dripped downstairs and flowed under the front door. The house was in ‘repair’ status and unusable for over a year.
If your furnace fails you might face a similar experience. A cold house leads to broken pipes when the weather gets cold. Broken pipes thaw out and the water runs freely through the house.
While more common in the winter, water emergencies also happen in the summer. Washing machines and toilet supply lines are common sites for breaks and leaks. The most common cause of interior water damage, according to many plumbers, is the ice maker. A broken ice maker will pump hundreds of gallons of water into your kitchen, causing thousands of dollars of damage. A plastic supply line is an easy target for mice looking for a water source—just a couple nibbles and you have water running everywhere. Water heaters have a predetermined life expectancy which they rarely exceed. The bottoms rust out or the fixtures start leaking. Cracked hose bibs are another common winter water issue. The pipe breaks inside the wall due to a garden hose left attached to the bib or due to a lack of insulation. The water saturates the wall and runs inside the house continuously.
With all this doom and gloom, is there a silver lining? Prevention is the key to limiting your damage. Proactive maintenance and vigilant attention to the house will help catch the water before it becomes a big problem. Most leaks start out small, so if someone is watching your house you can prevent the big price tag that comes with a major water problem.
Regular annual maintenance to your furnace is also highly recommended. Not only will your furnace last longer and run more efficiently, you may avoid a winter breakdown. Three days without heat when the temperatures are below freezing and you will have frozen pipes, guaranteed. Every winter I have a few owners who don’t want to pay for annual furnace maintenance. Without fail at least two of three who decline the service have major furnace failures during the winter and wind up spending significantly more money than a maintenance visit would have cost.
Clearing the ice dams and making sure the snow is running off the house (instead of inside) is critical during the difficult weather. You also want to regularly check toilets, washers and ice makers to make sure the supply lines are dry and there is no water leaking in or around the area. A damp line is an indication that the part is starting to fail. Changing out supply lines to a braided type will minimize chances of toilet and washing machine leaks. Scrutinize areas that have had problems in the past such as leaky skylights and ill-fitting doors. A quick fix now will protect your home from extensive water damage in the future.
Alarm systems now exist to alert you when water is detected in the home. ‘Water Bugs’ are placed around the sensitive areas such as the water heater, and under the refrigerator or sink. When moisture is detected the alarm calls to let you know. Another type of alarm monitors water usage in the house and shuts off the water valve when too much water is flowing through the house. Easy-to-reach water controls installed by a licensed plumber make it easy to turn off all the water when you leave the house for an extended period of time.
Taking care of the small things can add up. But when compared to the significant cost and inconvenience of a major water restoration job, these prevention-related costs are minimal. Remember if damage occurs over time and the house has been vacant, it might not even be covered by insurance. Insurance companies often classify a house as vacant if no one has been there for 30 days. So be vigilant, proactive and get a second set of eyes on the place if you can’t be there yourself.
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 19, 2012 in A La Carte Services, Published Articles, Sunriver Scene, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

As published in the Sunriver Scene

Every year homeowners ask about snow removal.  Many people only want to remove snow when they are going to be using their house.  While a nice idea, it just doesn’t work that way.  For starters, a snow-filled driveway indicates an empty house which can be a target for crime. That’s the least of your worries.  With the temperature swings we have in Central Oregon, the snow constantly warms up during the day and refreezes in the evenings.  This creates serious challenges:

 

 

 

Ice barricades:

 

Roads are typically plowed with every four inches of snowfall.   When they clear the roads, little consideration is given for your driveway.  The result is a snow berm at the entrance of your driveway.  Snow here in Sunriver has been known to create berms over four feet high.  Because of our warm days and cold nights, that berm turns to ice. Not only will even a small pile of ice stop all access to the home, without assistance from Mother Nature you will need an ice axe to get into the driveway.  Don’t forget that parking on the street will result in a ticket, starting at $50 and going all the way up to $250.

 

 

 

Skating rinks where walkways should be:

 

Of course the same freeze/melt cycle that turns berms into ice sculptures also occurs on your driveway and walkways creating an icy entrance.  Ice melt is sometimes recommended for taking care of the slick walkways. However, ice melt can speed up the breakdown of the driveway and damage the house when it gets tracked in on the wood floors.  I like to use sand or kitty litter in the slick spots, which adds traction without damaging asphalt, floors or your shoes.

 

 

 

Roof and Deck Overload:

 

The volume of snow in Sunriver can outweigh your roof and deck, putting your house in serious jeopardy if all that white weight is not removed. Roofs and decks are required by code to withstand 25 pounds per square foot of snow. Weight of snow varies greatly based on the temperature. Warmer, wetter snow is much heavier than fluffy, dry snow.

 

When fearing that your roof or deck might collapse it is easy to overreact.  I heard about one Sunriver homeowner who paid tons of money to have every inch of snow removed from her roof. She was called by a neighbor who told her she needed to have the roof cleared and they had seven guys in her driveway that could do it.  Were they roofers? Were they licensed? Did they even have references?

 

 

 

Removing the Snow:

 

How often do you clear snow? I clear driveways at four inches or greater to prevent ice berms and allow easy access to the house. Decks and roofs are cleared around two feet of snow accumulation. While decks in the sun often clear on their own, the shady decks pile up as the snow falls. Mounds of snow against windows or doors signal removal time has arrived.

 

Mother Nature sometimes helps with warm weather or rain melting away the white weight.  When that doesn’t work, a reliable local professional monitoring the snow situation and clearing it away provides peace of mind. Landscapers equipped with snow blowers, plows and shovels do a great job for the driveway and walkways.  Shovel smaller walkways, stairs and decks by hand to avoid damage. For the roof, I always use licensed roofers. They know what they are doing up there and won’t damage the area. On the roof I concentrate on clearing the eaves and the critical melt paths so water can run off the house.

 

The bottom line: Shoveling will have to be done by you or someone you hire to protect your home. After the driveways, roofs and decks are cleared you can enjoy winter from the comfort of your home.

 

 

 

To get help with your home call me, the Caretaking Commander, at Home Fridays. I have been buying, renovating and managing residential and commercial properties for over 20 years. My locally-based company, Home Fridays (homefridays.com), offers professional home management and concierge services to vacation home owners.  You can reach me at 541/317-3088 or shannon@homefridays.com.

 

 

 

 

 

 

 

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