Posted on April 28, 2015 in A La Carte Services, Disasters, Tips by ShannonNo Comments »

Over and over we end up with expensive maintenance issues that are the result of prior short cuts taken. Over the years we have had several issues with hose bibs and other areas where shortcuts have been taken.

The most recent one is a very expensive repair to a dripping exterior hose bib. Typically an old bib is just removed, a new one installed and the job is done in under an hour. For this one, a remodel was the cause of a future giant plumbing bill. The contractor put the remodeled cabinets on top of the plumbing, with no easy access to the back of the hose bib. In order to change out the hose bib, cutting into the cabinets is necessary. Stupid, costly and expensive! If just ignored, it will freeze during the cold temps, crack and probably flood the house (starting with the kitchen of course).

Leaky Exterior Hose Bib

Painting is one area that we occasionally see – a cheap painting job that takes shortcuts on quality paint products and too few coats, won’t last as long. Cheap materials do not hold up and we are happy to see the recently built homes appear to be using better materials.

The list of issues we have seen in the past decade covers every facet of a home from poor design, poor roofing materials, ventilation and lack of proper drainage. The stories are endless. The most important part is to take care, do the right thing and make the repair and maintenance in a timely fashion.

At Home Fridays we are huge proponents of doing it correctly the first time and taking care of regular maintenance. It is so much easier to pay in the front end, rather than the VERY costly repairs and potential floods! Central Oregon weather is extreme with major temperature swings that are hard on all the homes. With regular maintenance and oversight the problems can be taken care of.

Need help with your home? Give us a call to discuss how Home Fridays can help you 541/317-3088.

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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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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 May 23, 2012 in Disasters, VRBO by ShannonNo Comments »

The latest buzz heard around Bend and Sunriver is about break-ins to unoccupied homes. A group of squatters actually moved into a Sunriver home for the winter, rearranged the furniture, took out some walls and made themselves at home. The unwanted guests moved the ping pong table from downstairs to the upstairs and couches outside. The owners arrived for vacation and found a trashed and damaged home as they watched the squatters run out the back door!

Another home in Bend was damaged when someone broke in and left the hot water running full blast in the sinks. Yikes on that heating bill and water damage repair.

Both homes have near-by neighbors and still nothing was reported or even looked amiss.

Just a few more reasons you really want to have someone reliable watching over your home and a good security system never hurts. A weekly home check would easily have prevented the amount of damage to the Sunriver home. The Bend home is under surveillance and the promblems were caught and quickly contained. Keep an eye out for my next column in the Sunriver Scene – To Arm or Not To Arm. Give me a call if you need help with your Central Oregon home.

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Posted on April 17, 2012 in A La Carte Services, Disasters by ShannonNo Comments »

It is hard to believe the audacity of some thieves.   Having Champagne and taking a shower while burglarizing a home?   Check out this link; http://www.heraldsun.com.au/news/the-other-side/california-burglar-caught-naked-in-shower-after-helping-himself-to-champagne/story-e6frfhk6-1226329753900

 

Meanwhile in a Central Oregon gated community we had a rash of thefts ust last week.   A screwdriver to the back door lock was all it took to break open the man doors into the garages and gain access to the homes.  Notices went out to the neighborhood and everyone was on high alert.  After several nights of the same activity, he was caught.  The burglar didn’t even change neighborhoods…

 

At Home Fridays we have several precautions to prevent and minimize damage.

  1. 1. Always lock the door between the house and the garage with a deadbolt.
  2. 2. Set the alarm when no one is there, even if only out for a short time.
  3. 3. Unplug or lock the garage door so automatic openers cannot be used.
  4. 4. Have someone check the house on a regular basis.

 

For our owners in the affected neighborhood, they had great relief knowing that we had been to their homes and they were not victims.  Do you know the status of your home?   If not, give us a call…

 

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Posted on March 14, 2012 in Disasters, Winter by ShannonNo Comments »

    Not much fun to come home to this in your private driveway.   A windy couple of weeks here in Central Oregon and not all the trees survived.  Home Fridays to the rescue!  We do extra house checks during this crazy weather – finding all the issues and getting them corrected.  This tree will be chopped up, cleaned up and out of the way by the weekend.   And so begins some of the post storm cleanup….

Concerned about your house?  Give us a call and we can check on your home as well.

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Posted on May 3, 2011 in A La Carte Services, Spring by ShannonNo Comments »

As we emerge from winter here are the things we are doing at Home Fridays to get ready for the Spring.  If you are needing help with these items – just give us a call.  

  1. Clean the pine needles off the roof, gutters, decks and lawn.  Excessive needles are a fire hazard and will encourage lawn damage if left unattended.  And some of our homeowners associations will ticket you for not cleaning up. 
  2. Look Up – we have had a really windy winter with lots of trees and branches coming down. It is important to make sure everything is safely off the house.  For the health of the trees, get any damaged branches cut down. 
  3. Repair broken gutters damaged during the long winter which can create holes or pull the gutters off the house.  Also make sure your drain spouts are in good condition – not crushed or detached. 
  4. Remove foundation vent insulation and faucet covers, time for the house to breathe again.  But not too early – wait until the overnight freezes are done (might be late June this year).
  5. Install the window and door screens if removed for the winter.  Check for holes or rips and get those repaired.
  6. Inspect the deck support beams to identify any weakness or ‘spongy’ boards which indicate rot. Schedule annual deck maintenance – sanding, staining and/or replacement if necessary. 
  7. Change furnace filter and turn the furnace down to 50 (but not off yet).  This is Central Oregon, you never know when we will see snow in July.  A great time to get the air conditioner maintenance check scheduled. 
  8. Exterior inspection of the house – any damage from ice cycles or ageing of the paint.  This is a good time to schedule the paint job for the summer. 
  9. Stone fascia is often damaged over the winter with the freezing and cooling which weakens the adhesive.  Check your columns and rockery for anything loose and get it repaired. 
  10. Inspect the driveway for damage – loose pavers.  It is always easier to replace just a few or get them reset rather than waiting for the entire driveway to start failing.  Also sealing the driveway every few years will prolong the life and save money from a total redo. 
  11. Schedule the carpet, window and deep cleaning of the house. 
  12. Inspect for woodpecker damage around the house and the deck supports.  Woodpeckers are a protected species in Central Oregon and for some reason they really like our desert climate (who wouldn’t).  We have a number of methods we use to repair the damage and prevent further damage – everything from board replacement to netting and nest boxes. 
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Posted on September 15, 2009 in Disasters by ShannonNo Comments »

It is a sad commentary on the area when home break-ins increase.  Recently we had a window broken on a home – the alarm went off and the intruder was scarred away.  With a quick response by local authorities (because the alarm is monitored and we knew that no one should have been in the house) significant damage or theft was averted.    This house is in a quiet area and it would have been easy access if the alarm did not exist. 

Until recently we had only a handful of homes with alarms.  But now I strongly encourage alarms.  Home Fridays is a great deterrent as we are in the house changing the lighting pattern and giving the house a more lived in feel.  But we are not there 24/7.  And that is when the alarm really comes in handy. 

We usually get the call that the alarm has gone off.  If the owners are visiting or someone is scheduled to be there – we run over to the house.  If no one is scheduled, we let the police respond and then go over.  Sorry, I am just not big and scary enough to drive anyone away from the house!  Sometimes it is a false alarm, but in this recent case it was not.  

We have heard stories about a moving van pulling up in front of a house that was for sale.  They cleaned out the entire house of furniture and everything.  It was months before anyone discovered the theft.  The neighbors – just thought they had sold the house.   Alarm service along with Home Fridays would have prevented that theft.

Another vacation home was slowly cleaned out by the thieves over a matter of weeks or even months.  The final straw – they left the door open.  So the pipes froze and the owner was alerted when he received an enormous water bill.  He drove out to his home and found the door ajar, water running through the house and the things the thief had left, out on the lawn.  A good monitored alarm system along with Home Fridays would have prevented that – our weekly visits will discover any issues and get them resolved.

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