OK, guys, I know you have the best of intentions to keep your home in tip-top condition. But life gets in the way. Well, there are few priorities for the longevity and value of your home–not to mention your/your family’s safety–that you just can’t ignore!
Here are the top 5 critical items that typically come up in Seattle-area inspections:
Drainage, drainage, drainage. According to the City of Seattle, the average yearly rainfall draining off the roof of a 1,400 SF house is over 30,000 gallons. That’s an incredible amount of water! And, from what I’ve seen, 9 out of 10 houses in Seattle have their downspouts (which carry the water from the gutters) depositing directly next to or a few short feet from their foundation–often with the ground sloped TOWARDS the foundation. Over time, this leads to flooding, huge moisture/mold problems, and big problems for the integrity of the foundation. Digging the right kind of perimeter drain and tying the downspouts into it isn’t terribly expensive or complicated–but it IS worth doing right.
Take all that drainage schpiel and apply it to your house’s FIRST line of defense: The roof. Then imagine the moss buildup, pine needles, overflowing gutters, and blown-off shingles your average Seattle roof might experience in a winter. Then remember that this is the piece of your house literally keeping you dry. Doesn’t your roof deserve a little extra TLC (done right, might I add–no power-washing here)?
Look, I know it’s fun to watch YouTube videos and DIY. But when it comes to your house’s electrical panels, outlets, etc., some of the scariest work Jeffrey and I have seen was done by someone’s “handy uncle.” For the love of god, have a professional clean up your electrical panel, remove dangerous crossed wires, install GFCI outlets in your bathrooms/kitchen, and fix any outstanding hazards. This one is a BIG deal for safety and worth the money.
Remember all that rain we mentioned? Well, that’s the reason rats LOVE to find the warm, dry places inside our attics, crawl spaces, etc. And they love to burrow up into the insulation and make a huge, stinky, unhealthy mess. It’s not enough to place traps or replace the insulation, though–you need to bring in a pro or commit to eliminating EVERY potential point of entry (those suckers are wily), removing compromised insulation, setting traps & monitoring, spraying to sanitize, and THEN re-insulating. A lot of folks only complete one or two steps, but I can promise you that you’ll be sad when you’ve done all that work and the rodents return.
5. Caulking/water control
Yes, more water stuff. A small stream of water dribbling behind your sink, next to your tub, under your toilet…it really doesn’t take much water to, over a period of time, start to rot your walls, cabinets, and floors in spots you can’t see. The solution? Keep the under-sink, tub, toilet, etc. well-caulked with the RIGHT materials. Put a shower curtain on that window in your shower so the ledge doesn’t rot. Use the bathroom fan every time you shower (for longer than you think you need). Pay attention to where the water is going and don’t let a decade pass before you notice that your toilet is about to fall into the dining room.
Yes, I know you are a great caretaker for your home. And I know this is naggy stuff. But I promise that if you take a little time to tie up your maintenance loose ends, your future self will thank you when you go to remodel, sell, or try to stay dry 😛 Now, let’s talk about ventilation…
How to feel more connected with your neighborhood
You’ve moved into your new place—congrats! You’re busy setting things up, learning the quirks of your home, finding a new routine. You declare to your partner or friends that you’re eager to explore the new neighborhood. Then, 2 years later, you’ve found your grocery store, favorite coffee shop, and dog park…but you still don’t feel connected. What to do?
5. Find a business you wouldn’t normally patronize–and talk with the owner.
You may not think you have a reason to visit that bodega/quilt shop/biker bar/service station down the street. But it’s part of the fabric of your new neighborhood, and there’s probably an interesting story about how long it’s been there and what the owner has seen. You know you’ll learn something: Do people come from far away to visit? Are there celebrity patrons? Is there a secret “house specialty”? If nothing else, you’ll feel in the know once you’ve discovered the secrets of your neighborhood haunts.
4. Consider volunteering with/donating to a charity within 0.5 miles of your home.
According to a 2014 UW Evan’s School Study, there are more than 1,000 registered nonprofits in King County alone–which means there’s probably one geographically close to you. If you love supporting a good cause, imagine how you’ll feel when that cause is literally close to home. Examples I’ve seen: Food banks, animal shelters, senior companion services, nature clean-up crews, school improvement orgs, etc. It will be that much easier to make time or feel connected to something down the street, and you can share something meaningful with your neighbors. That is true hyper-local investment!
3. Create an excuse to meet your neighbors (i.e., a party).
If you and your family still haven’t met most of your neighbors, it may be time to change that. Whether you wish you had folks nearby to keep an eye on your place while you’re gone or are just craving a feeling of community, it’s never too late to make a connection. Of course, you may not become best friends with all your neighbors, but I’m willing to bet you’ll find at least a few great folks to wave to on your ride home. The medium? Try putting up fliers for a shared block party, knocking on doors to suggest a multi-neighbor “open house” day, host a party at yours, or put up a sign for a games day at the closest park.
2. Read your local neighborhood blog/newsletter.
This one is a no-brainer. Even if you don’t have time to sit down and read a full newspaper every weekend, you probably have 5 minutes when you’re scrolling through your phone to check the neighborhood pages. You’ll learn surprising facts, find opportunities to support local businesses, hear about city development/neighborhood changes, and probably find cool new places to visit. A simple Google search for your neighborhood name and “blog” will get you there–or I can help!
1. Walk around with beginner’s mind.
You’ve already spent plenty of time in your neighborhood, but have you really SEEN it? Imagine what a kid would see if they were walking around it for the first time. What kinds of trees do you see? Are there any cool murals? A memorial bench or historic building? Is there a tiny art gallery, coffee shop, micro park, or little free library you might have missed? Exploring on foot–and slowly–will deepen your connection to this larger place you call home, and if you make it a regular practice, you just might meet other people trying to connect with their community, too.
You’d make Mr. Rogers proud.
Curious about gems in your neighborhood? I always have ideas, or know someone who does! Email me at evaconner [at] windermere [dot] com.