Welcome to the spring 2013 edition of
Breakwater Inspections Findings
Breakwater Inspections Findings Newsletter

How to Prioritize Home Repairs

Prioritizing projects    Even though it’s not very exciting, and won’t get you that great new kitchen you've dreamed of, safety issues should always be the top priority. These can include repairing and/or replacing faulty electrical components, repairing any structural concerns, and making sure your roof is in tip-top shape.
Electrical - Some signs of electrical issues can be things like loose or hot outlets, lights that flicker, and crackling noises. They aren't necessarily expensive things to correct, but a licensed electrician can give you a good idea of what it will cost; and being able to sleep at night without worrying about a fire is definitely worth it! And, you don’t need an electrician to make sure your carbon monoxide and smoke detectors are in good working order—just push the test button. Batteries should be changed every 6 months—we usually do it when we change the clocks for daylight savings time.
Structural - Problems with a home’s foundation can lead to settling and cracking in the house. Cracks in masonry or plaster are signs that you may want to have a home inspector or licensed contractor come in to take a look and give you an assessment. Cracks can just be normal settling, but they can also be an indication that the house needs some attention. Structural issues can be severe and dangerous to your family so they’re definitely number 2 on the list.
Roof - Particularly in Maine’s cold climate, having a solid roof between you and the swirling snow can bring tremendous peace of mind! You don’t have to climb up on the roof to assess its condition—a lot can be determined from the ground with a good pair of binoculars. If you see missing, cupping, or torn shingles it’s time to call in the pros! Get a professional roofer to give you an assessment—don’t wait till you see stains on the ceilings!
Drainage - Cleaning out gutters is a great way to make sure that water is not pooling around your foundation which can lead to a wet basement and possibly structural problems. It is always a good idea to make sure the land around the home is graded away so the water runs downhill, away from the house instead of toward it. Another weekend project is trimming bushes and shrubs so that they are not touching the house. This will keep insect infestations to a minimum and allow air to circulate around the structure so rot does not become a problem.
Other things to look for - Check your tub, shower, sinks, toilet--this is definitely a DIY project. Be sure your caulk is in good condition so you don’t have water seeping into places where it can do damage. Something else all homeowners can do themselves, is change the filter in the furnace and air conditioning unit at least once or twice a year. These should be serviced annually to keep them running at top efficiency, which will not only save you money in the long run, but will let you rest easy that you will have heat on the coldest day of the year, and air conditioning on the hottest! So once you've investigated there things, you can tackle that dream kitchen!

What to improve?

What to improve    We are hearing a lot about an improving housing market, and in many areas of the country there have been clear and consistent signs of recovery. Other areas are still struggling a bit more.
    In what became and still is a competitive market for finding the buyers out there, making attractive upgrades and renovations make all the difference to potential buyers with many homes to choose from. Compounding this is a trend that many home buyers want homes that are move-in ready.
    In considering upgrades and renovations to make a house more marketable, not all improvement are have the same impact or return on investment. The top five mid-range renovations, listed by order of "return on investment," according to Remodeling Magazine involve decks, siding, kitchens and windows. They are listed below with renovation, its cost, its resale value and the percent recouped once the home sells.
Deck addition (wood): $10,973 cost, $7,986 resale value, 72.8 percent cost recouped
Minor kitchen remodel: $21,695 cost, $15,790 resale, 72.8 percent recouped
Siding replacement (vinyl): $11,357 cost, $8,223 resale, 72.4 percent recouped
Window replacement (wood): $12,027 cost, $8,707 resale, $72.4 percent recouped
Window replacement (vinyl): $11,066 cost, $7,920 resale, 71.6 percent recouped

Did you know

Widow's walk

    A widow's walk also known as a "widow's watch" (or roofwalk) is a railed rooftop platform often with a small enclosed cupola frequently found on 19th-century North American coastal houses. A popular romantic myth holds that the platform was used to observe vessels at sea. The name is said to come from the wives of mariners, who would watch for their spouses' return, often in vain as the ocean took the lives of the mariners, leaving the women widows. Beyond their use as viewing platforms, they are frequently built around the chimney of the residence, thus creating access to the structure. This allows the residents of the home to pour sand down burning chimneys in the event of a chimney fire in the hope of preventing the house from burning down.

House cleaning

    Few people enjoy house cleaning, but cleanliness can offer important home maintenance benefits, according to the National Association of Home Builders. Removing dirt and dust can prolong the lifespan of major appliances, window treatments, floors, carpets, sinks, bathtubs, cabinets and many other components of a typical home. Recent studies also show that reducing household dust and dirt can significantly reduce the risk of asthma attacks.

DIY or hire a pro?

    Whether the do-it-yourself direction is an option for home maintenance and projects depends mostly upon a homeowner's situation. An older person may not be spry enough for treks up and down a ladder or climbing onto a roof while a younger person may not have the time to spare with a busy professional life and a young family. Even if a homeowner has the time and skills, sometimes it is worth paying someone else if the rate per hour the homeowner pays is below the rate per hour the homeowner can earn during the same time.
    Regardless of the situation, for those determined to DIY, tasks such as painting a fence or clearing overgrown brush are a good place to start. Most homeowners shouldn't attempt electrical repairs due to the risk of electrocution, or plumbing repairs due to the risk of leaks. Projects that require special equipment or skills such as re-roofing are also ill-suited for the do-it-yourself approach.
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