Who Gets Excited About Doing Home Maintenance?

Really, I Thought I Was the Only One Who Hated It

Hate might be a bit too strong of a word for how I feel about home maintenance. It’s not that I necessarily hate it…it’s just that when doing it, it feels more like work than the feelings I associate with HOME.

The cool wintery weather today got me to thinking about winter officially starting in a month. There is some winter maintenance that needs to be done.

Home should be a place of comfort and security. It’s where I want to rest and be rejuvenated. It should provide peace and comfort. When everything outside is falling apart…

Home should be warm and comforting, like a mother’s hug.

The problem is ignoring maintenance will eventually become bigger more expensive repairs. Out of sight and out of mind is not a good plan. Don’t ignore the elephant in the room. A plan makes it much more manageable.

It’s easy for the busy activities of everyday life to consume us and maintenance to get overlooked. This is why I prepared a Home Maintenance Plan and Check List. This is available for free at our Solution Building website. Just follow the links, fill out the form and download it for free.

This includes plans for monthly, quarterly, annual and seasonal maintenance including a seasonal check list.

Here is the winter portion of the plan:

WINTER –

Clean faucet aerators and shower heads – Dirty aerators on the end of your faucets and in shower heads can mean limescale and sediment are blocking the flow and water pressure. Unscrew the aerators and shower heads, remove the aerator and/or screen, soak them in a 50/50 vinegar/water mixture for 30 minutes or until clean, rinse and reinstall. Be careful to pay attention to the order and direction the parts come apart so that you can put them back together correctly.

Clean sink, tub, shower and dishwasher drains – Rid your sink traps of built up hair, soap and limescale by pouring a mixture of vinegar and baking soda (1/2 cup of each) in the sink, stop the sink, let it set for 15 minutes. Boil some water, unstop the sink and pour the boiling water down the drain. While you’re waiting the 15 minutes, look under the sink at both the pipes and the cabinet floor for any evidence of leaks or drips.

Check caulking and/or grout in and around showers, tubs and sinks – Loose, cracked or missing caulking should be resealed or replaced as needed. This will prevent water from getting behind these surfaces and damaging the wood and/or drywall behind.

Vacuum refrigerator and freezer coils and empty drip pans –Refrigerator coils, sometimes called condenser coils, resemble your car’s radiator. They will be found on the back or bottom of your fridge and freezer. To clean the coils, use the brush attachment on your vacuum to loosen and extract the lint and dirt. If you can’t get to the coils with your vacuum, you can simply use a brush to clean coils and then vacuum it up. Also remove the drip pan from beneath your appliance and empty, clean and reinstall it. This process should only take 15-30 minutes.

Clean dryer vent – Disconnect dryer hose, use the brush attachment on your vacuum to loosen and extract the lint and dirt from inside and outside of hose, dryer and vent going through the wall.

Clean bathroom exhaust fans – Remove cover from bathroom exhaust fans. Clear away any dust and cobwebs from around fans using the brush attachment on your vacuum. Reinstall cover.

Inspect attic – If you have an attic, go up there and check for evidence of leaks or daylight showing up through cracks or openings to the outside. Check to see if the insulation has been moved or disturbed, this could be evidence of rodents.

Home maintenance is less daunting with a plan.

Get your own Home Maintenance Plan and Check List and enjoy your home.

How to Make Home Maintenance Manageable

 

 

 

A Home Maintenance Plan Complete with Checklist

 

 

I don’t think anyone likes it when something plugs up, leaks or quits working, especially at home. Home is supposed to be the place where we go to get away from the troubles, not deal with them.

 


Routine maintenance is a good way to minimize these costly disruptions.


Nothing is permanent. Everything wears out and deteriorates over time. Regular maintenance will help extend the life of your home and that sizable investment. Closing your eyes or looking the other way doesn’t make it go away.


Last week we discussed the importance of having an intentional plan. Today we will look at an excerpt of what this plan should include and why. (Get the full plan here)

 

Home Maintenance Plan


Home maintenance – Prevents breakdowns, saves money and keeps your home in the best possible condition. This regularly scheduled review can expose conditions that might not otherwise be found. This reduces mental, physical and financial stress and strain.


Seasons happen every year and are a natural part of life. Each of these seasons presents different weather conditions and temperatures which effect your home in varying ways. We also use calendars to schedule our lives. Combining these two things into a seasonal Home Maintenance Checklist breaks a big responsibility into small manageable scheduled tasks.


MONTHLY MAINTENANCE – These tasks should be done every month. You might prefer to schedule one day to do them all or spread them out over the month doing one or two items periodically throughout.

 

Clean garbage disposals – Put a little vinegar in an ice cube tray, add some water and freeze, then run some cubes through the disposal. Follow up with a little baking soda and warm water. The ice cubes will sharpen the blades, the vinegar and baking soda will break down food and grease build up and will leave it smelling fresh and clean.

 

QUARTERLY MAINTENANCE – These quarterly tasks, like the monthly ones, can be scheduled for one day each quarter or disbursed through out the quarter at monthly, weekly or other intervals. The important thing is to schedule them and do them.


Change HVAC and/or water filters – How often you change the filter of your furnace / air conditioner will be determined by how much it runs, how many people live in your home, whether you have animals in the house and the geographic location. Also, if you use thinner less expensive filters they should be changed more often.

 

ANNUAL MAINTENANCE (By Season) – Annual tasks are more seasonal than monthly or quarterly. There is still some flexibility that can be determined by your own preference or life schedule. Some of them are not specific to the season but have been placed as they have, to spread them more evenly throughout the year.


WINTER


Clean faucet aerators and shower heads – Dirty aerators on the end of your faucets and in shower heads can mean limescale and sediment are blocking the flow and water pressure. Unscrew the aerators and shower heads, remove the aerator and/or screen, soak them in a 50/50 vinegar/water mixture for 30 minutes or until clean, rinse and reinstall. Be careful to pay attention to the order and direction the parts come apart so that you can put them back together correctly.

 

SPRING
Service central air conditioner – It’s a good idea to have your central air conditioner serviced annually by a professional. Depending on where you live this will generally cost between $100 and $300.

 

SUMMER


Lubricate and test overhead garage door – Garage doors have moving parts that should be lubricated. With the door closed clean dirt and debris from the track. Use a lithium-based aerosol and spray rollers, bearings and other moving parts of the door and opener (chain or threaded rod). Your garage door should have stop and auto reverse motion detection to sense if an object is in its path. Get a 2×4 piece of wood and place it underneath the open door, then close the door using the opener button. The door should stop closing once it detects the wood and go back up. Also test the photo-electric sensors by moving something in front of them while the door is coming down, it should reverse direction and go back up.

 

FALL
Service central heating system – It’s a good idea to have your furnace serviced annually by a professional. Depending on where you live this will generally cost between $100 and $300.

 

The complete list is long and there are still more things that could be added. Keep in mind that everyone’s individual lifestyle, type of construction, geographic location, etc. will determine specifics to your individual plan.

 

 

The complete list can certainly seem overwhelming. This is a big part of why routine maintenance gets overlooked. If you break it down into the individual tasks, spread them out and schedule them, it’s doable, like eating an elephant one bite at a time.

 

(Get the full maintenance plan here)

How to Be Intentional About Home Maintenance

 

 

Out of Sight, Out of Mind Is Not A Good Plan

 

 

Your home is far more than just a place to reside, it’s where you live. It provides a feeling of safety and security, like a mother’s hug. It’s the place you want to be when everything around you is falling apart.


If your home is a place of shelter you don’t want it to be the thing falling apart.


Whether you rent or own your home, it’s one of your biggest investments. It’s where you spend much of your time, money, and life. With it being this important, you need to take care of it.


If our homes are so important, why are they neglected?


We are creatures of habit, whether good or bad. We preform our daily routines of coming and going and rarely bother to look around. Unless a doorknob falls off in our hand or there’s no hot water for our shower, or the sink gets stopped up, or the AC doesn’t work, or any number of other problems occur, we just go through life without giving any thought to the condition of our homes.

 

 

Maintenance isn’t going to prevent every big problem from happening, but it decreases the likely hood. Having a scheduled maintenance plan will also help you find needed repairs before they become major.

 


Having an intentional plan is important, but it won’t work if you don’t use it.

 

With everything else going on in life, how can we remember one more thing? We don’t have to if we have a scheduled plan. First you need to decide if home maintenance is important enough for you to bother with. If it doesn’t bother you when you’re forced to deal with a big problem, then don’t worry about it. You’ll know the sump pump has quit working when you replace the carpet, baseboard and lower portion of the sheetrock in your basement.


The most important part of the maintenance plan is having a system in place that works for you. I use my computer calendar for this. I can set reminders for different time periods and it will automatically remind me. Just this last weekend I was reminded that is was time to clean the coffee maker. If it hadn’t been for the reminder it wouldn’t have gotten done. Whether you use a computer, a paper calendar or something else, you need to follow through regularly.


The overwhelming maintenance mountain becomes manageable if you break it down into shovel size amounts.


Your home and life are specific to you. Your maintenance plan needs to be designed to fit those specificities. Different manufacturers of appliances and home equipment will have their own recommendations, so you should schedule your plan around that. If you have hard well water you might need to clean faucets, shower heads, coffee makers, etc. more often than recommended. If you don’t use some things regularly, they might need less maintenance.

 


Next week we’ll dig deeper into the specifics of what a maintenance plan includes, complete with a downloadable Home Maintenance Checklist for you to use.

 

It’s Up to You to Decide Where You’ll Live

 

This Is A Tale of Two Cities

 

 

 

Are you happy with where you live? It matters less whether it’s in the country or in town, whether it’s a huge mansion or a one room apartment.

 


What does matter is whether it’s the City of God or the city of man.


Just like the famous first line of Charles Dicken’s, A Tale of Two Cities, “It was the best of times, it was the worst of times…” life can be good, or life can be hard. We often are faced with difficult circumstances, the important thing for us is to not suffer through it alone.


The city of man drives us apart, the City of God brings us together.


Many of us don’t know anything about our neighbors, even when living in close proximity. While technology has in some ways made us more connected, in many ways it has caused us to be more separated. This is not how it is in God’s City.


While living in the city of man we often think we have all the answers. Expecting humanity to save itself is an unrealistic expectation. Just like in the poem The Sorcerer’s Apprentice, we think we shouldn’t have to work so hard. If we use what limited knowledge we have, we can find a short cut. Just like in the story, we need to do our part and leave the “magic power” to the Master.

 

Beautiful as the physical City of God is, as described in Revelations 21:10-14, 22-23, the real beauty is the spiritual aspect. This sense of community and the way people treat each other is the amazing thing. We can have a small portion of God’s City here and now, it’s up to us to choose.

 

Being a citizen of the City of God, comes with a work visa to the city of man.


This is the only way to have a dual citizenship. Pick which city you’re going to call home.

Painting the Interior of Your Home – Part 2

The Next Step to Achieving the Outcome You Desire

Just like a painting project takes longer than initially expected, so did the explanation of it. What I thought would be a short post turned into two and now looks to be three. Next week we’ll see if we’re able to accomplish this.

Last week I told you to start with determining the right paint depending on what the rooms use was. Next was picking your colors which is one of the most important things to the outcome. What, in the beginning, would seem to be easy, often turns into one of the most difficult.

Figuring out what tools you need, is the next step. Painting is like any other project, having the right tools will make the project go smoother, easier and make for a better outcome. Even with basic tools like brushes and rollers there is an amazing amount of variety and options. Then of course there is too many specialty tools to go into.

Brushes:

  • Natural bristle (sometimes called China bristle) for oil-based finishes. These bristles are made from animal hair. The natural split ends of these bristles hold more paint and allow a nice smooth finish
  • Blended nylon/polyester bristle for latex paints. The combination of these bristles provides a durable long-lasting brush. The polyester is great at holding its shape and the nylon holds up well.
  • Polyester bristles work well in latex paints but aren’t as durable as the combination bristles. They provide a smoother application of paint than the combination.
  • Sizes typically range in width from 1” to 4”. Depending on what you are doing will determine which width provides the best result. Smaller brushes work best for trim and small areas. The bigger brushes provide more coverage on large flat areas.
  • Styles or bristle ends also serve different specific purposes. An angled brush works best for cutting in around windows, doors, etc. or in corners. The angled cut gives you more control over the paint line. Flat brushes work best when the goal is to get paint on larger flat surfaces.

Rollers:

  • Fabrics used for roller covers are similar to brushes in that some are natural, and some are synthetic. The synthetic is the most common and is ideal for latex paints. The natural covers are made of mohair or wool. These work best with oil-based paints. Blended covers provide the best of both worlds. They have the product pick up of wool and the longevity of nylon.
  • Pile depths of roller covers vary from short (almost smooth) to long (3/4” -1”). The short nap is for smooth surfaces. The rougher the surface the longer the nap needed.

Misc. tools and sundries:

  • Drop cloths or plastic for covering finished floors or furniture that will remain in the room.
  • Tape and plastic or painter paper for covering windows, doors, floor perimeters, trim, electric fixtures, hardware, etc. Most of us are aware of the blue painters masking tape. It was designed to be used on painted surfaces and not pull the paint loose when it was removed. Now there is green (multi-surface) and yellow (delicate) tape as well.  
  • Caulking, spackling, drywall mud for filling cracks, nail holes and repairing damaged areas. Caulking works best when filling joints and cracks where two different materials come together, for example wood trim and drywall. It allows for expansion when the two things expand and contract at different rates. Spackling is light weight and faster drying than sheetrock mud and works great for filling nail holes and small repairs. Drywall compound dries slower and depending on the size of repair will most likely shrink and need multiple coats but is more durable than spackling.
  • Ladders, stools and planks are needed to cut in the corner where the ceiling and wall meet, the tops of windows and doors or ceiling fixtures. Once the cut in is complete then everything in a typical room can be reached with a roller pole. Some rooms with high vaulted ceiling may require scaffolding.
  • Roller handles, poles, pans, liners and screens are all parts of the paint rolling process. Many times, people don’t distinguish the difference of these things. The roller handle is what the roller cover slides onto. The pole is what the handle screws onto and often is adjustable in length. The pan is what paint is poured into for the roller to pick up the paint from. There are pan liners that fit in the pans which can make the clean up process easier. There are also screens of different sizes that fit into different sized buckets. You can then dip the roller directly into the bucket of paint and remove the need for a pan.

Now we’ve determined the right paint, picked the colors we want and figured out what tools we need. After all of that, it’s time to get started painting.

Next week we will discuss the process of preparing the room and putting some paint on the walls.

If you have any questions or thoughts about what we’ve discussed so far, just send them to us in the comment section below.

Painting the Interior of Your Home

How to Achieve the Outcome You Desire

Whether you’re repainting a room, painting the interior of an addition or the whole house interior for the first time, painting is a transformational experience. The question is what kind of transformation are you after?

Painting can turn the dull into the exciting.

It can also turn expectations into disaster. In this week’s solution I will give you some insight from my forty years of experience to help prevent that from happening.

Where to begin. There’s a lot of work that needs to be done before you ever start doing any physical work. Before you pick up a brush or roller you need to:

Determine the right paint. This should be determined by what the room will be used for. Is it a kitchen or a bathroom where it is likely to be splashed and splattered? Is it a kid’s room where it will have little messy hands coloring pictures on it? Is it a family/living area where most of the activities won’t involve the walls beyond their appearance? Another thing to consider is the quality of the paint. Better-quality paints have more pigment and cover better, wear better and last longer.

  • Latex (water base) – Dries quickly, easy clean up with water, works great on drywall.
  • Oil / Alkyd – Slower drying, more durable, requires mineral spirts for clean up, great for wood trim and areas that need more cleaning.
  • Sheen – This is the amount of reflectivity or shininess of the finish. Not that many years back you had choices of flat, satin, semi-gloss and gloss. Now depending on the manufacturer there are a lot more including pearl, matte, egg-shell, low luster, medium luster, etc.

Pick your colors. This requires an increased awareness to your surroundings. What colors you like, or don’t like? You may not even know why and that’s okay. What matters is how it makes you feel. Look at the interiors of buildings and homes, where ever you go. Look online at similar spaces to the one you’re going to be painting. Sherwin-Williams has an online service that will allow you to experiment with colors on your project before you ever put any paint on the wall.

Get sample cards and see how they look in the room. Every room has its own natural and artificial light. The color will also be affected by colors of things in the area. After narrowing the choices to a few, get small quantities of samples and paint them on the wall to see how they look. At this point the colors can be altered some to get the right color.

You also need to consider the other people who will be sharing this space. They may not like the colors you do. This may not matter to anyone but you, but if it’s important to the others their input needs to be included in making the final decision.

After determining the right paint to use and picking your colors, you’ve completed the first step of your interior paint project. Next week we’ll discuss the tools you need to complete your exciting painting project.

What Are the Benefits to Having A Porch?

How Adding a Porch to Your Home Can Change Everything

When talking about houses one of the things that is discussed with pride or envy is a porch. Porches will make all the difference to how your home feels before ever stepping foot inside. You’ve probably heard it said that you only have one chance to make a good first impression. This is true for your home as well.

A porch done right can make a great first impression.

Timber Creek Construction is in the pre-construction stages of building a front porch on Will and Ivy Tatum’s new home. They are currently in the process of getting a home set in the country on some family property. The family connection and history lend itself to making the home special. The porch on this home will do just that.

Factory built homes have come a long way from the early days of single wide trailer houses when they weren’t much more than a camping trailer with skirting. I don’t know but having a trailer tongue sticking out on one end and a license plate on the other, just doesn’t feel very long term.

Tatum’s purchased their new Commodore modular home from Shocker Homes east of Wichita in Augusta, Kansas. It is a structurally sound wood framed home bolted to a concrete foundation. (No trailer tongue sticking out on this house.) LG Pike Construction in Arkansas City, Kansas set the home on the foundation with a crane. This process alone was impressive. (Follow this link to see some video.)

Porches vary depending on geographic location, architectural design and purpose. According to Dictionary.com, a porch is, “an exterior appendage to a building, forming a covered approach or vestibule to a doorway.”.

A porch without a roof is not a porch.

A wood structure with spaced flooring is a deck. A concrete slab without a roof is a patio. A raised uncovered concrete area at a doorway is a stoop. All of these serve a purpose, but none of them can offer what a porch can.

The roof portion is what makes all the difference. It’s the part that adds the real value.

Here are a few of the benefits to a porch:

  • Additional protection from the elements (sun, wind, rain)
  • A protected and shaded place to enjoy a cup of coffee, read a book, entertain guests or simply take a nap.
  • Protection from bugs if it is screened
  • Improves appearance of the home’s exterior
  • Increases the value of your home

One of the reasons decks or patios are done rather than porches is the cost. There’s no question that the addition of the roof will increase the cost substantially. Like any construction project that is undertaken, the more that is done, the more that it will cost.

The question…Is it worth it?

Watch the difference that this porch will make to Tatum’s home. Once you see the finished project, I think you and they will both agree.

It was definitely worth it.

Keep watching to see the difference a porch can make.

If you have questions about this project or others contact us in the comments section below.

The Next Chapter in “The Saga of the Grain-Bin Home”

The Hero and Her Guide Are Defeating the Evil Budget Monster

As the voyage continues, Hannah and Mark trek forward on their journey toward the allusive ‘Grain-Bin Home’. An expedition like this is not for the faint of heart. It requires the passionate desire of a hero and the experience and knowledge of a trusted guide.

This story began a year ago with the idea of building a small home by repurposing a couple of used grain bins. The two steel bins would be connected by framed wood construction. This idea was dreamt about, discussed, thought about, revised, discussed some more and over the next several months, the preliminary plan emerged.

The collaboration of the hero and the guide in developing a plan before starting on an adventure like this is critically important to achieving a positive outcome. This planning stage is often as long or longer than the building portion. Turning a dream into a reality is the hardest part of the quest. It’s also the most exciting. It is the part where the imagining turns into the doing.

We prepared a proposal based on the preliminary plans. The dollar amount was more than Hannah wanted to spend. So, we went through a list of things that could be changed or removed to get the project closer to the target figure. This included things like radiant floor heating, Pella Designer Series windows with blinds between the glass, and a pass-through indoor/outdoor fireplace.

As we worked on these revisions, Hannah on the drawing and me on the proposal we were presented with some benefits of having an experience guide and the connections that come with them.

First, I became aware of some tongue and grove V-jointed 1×6 pine that a painter had, which had been stained the wrong color for one of his projects. There was enough of it to do the interior wall that we are planning to put stained wood on. It was offered to us at the cost of the wood…we bought it.

Next, I received a communication from my Pella representatives, that Pella Products of Kansas was going to have a “Contractor Garage Sale”. This was to reduce the number of unclaimed, mis-ordered or slightly damaged items taking up space in their warehouse. Hannah and I went to this sale. With some ‘on the spot’ creative solutions we made some idea adjustments and were able to get all the windows and one of the doors needed. This was a price reduction for the customer of over $23,000 from the original proposal. We will spend a portion of that savings on painting the windows so they will all be the same color.

We are on the cusp of transitioning to the doing.

Hannah is finalizing the design changes created by the earlier price reduction list and the windows and door that were purchased. At the same time, I’m finalizing the figures as per those things as well. In the next few weeks Hannah will securing the money needed, and we will be starting on this adventure.

Keep watching for the next chapter in “Saga of the Grain-Bin Home” and share it with others you think might enjoy this story.

How to Dream Big in A Small Space

The Strength of More Than One

A few weeks ago, I wrote about creating realistic expectations for customers and how important it is for the builder to honestly manage those expectations. In that conversation I spoke about Hannah’s project of building her home using grain bins.


This is going to be a dream project for both of us, but it takes planning and working together to make a dream come true. There also needs to be patience and understanding. Too many times people’s dreams become nightmares.


Her most recent floor plan has several changes from the first one. These changes are a normal part of the process (they probably aren’t the last). Some people don’t have the patience for this and plow forward throwing caution to the wind.

On the other hand, some of us tend to plan things to death. No dream is going to be built if there isn’t some action. That’s why it’s important to find the balance of planning and doing.

I think when Hannah’s dream project is finished she will agree that some outside ideas and input helped her project be better than if she hadn’t had any.

All of us have been made to strengthen and support each other. We accomplish more when we work together. In Ecclesiastes 4:12 it says, “…two people can stand back to back to defend each other. And three people are even stronger. They are like a rope that has three parts wrapped together – it is very hard to break”. (ERV)


It’s like the two-horse rule. A single draft horse can pull 8,000 pounds so it would stand to reason that two draft horses could pull 16,000 pounds. But they can actually pull 24,0000 pounds. That is three times as much. Each horse has its purpose and working together can accomplish more.

This is the benefit of collaboration. The working together makes each of us as better as individuals and the dream stronger. Hannah and I are both slower more detailed horses. I think we might need to add a race horse to the team so that we can plow a little faster.

 

Keep following this blog and Hannah’s for more updates as the dream moves closer to reality.