Monthly Home Maintenance

March Home Maintenance Checklist


    These 9 items concentrate on making sure the systems of your home are in good working order and keeping them in that condition. Inside jobs involve getting rid of things you don’t use and cleaning and freshening things that you do. If weather permits you can go outdoors and prim and trim tree branches that may have fallen and prune away any dead or broken limbs.

    • Replace filters or wash permanent ones in heating system
    • Flush vinegar through clothes washer to remove soap scum
    • Unclutter clothes closet
    • Clean out refrigerator
    • Clean and organize bathroom cabinet, drawers and closet
    • Check batteries in emergency flashlights
    • Lubricate, test and clean sump pump in basement or crawl space
    • Clean, oil and sharpen lawn tools
    • Prune dead and broken tree limbs

Visit us at to compare the cost of hundreds of improvement projects and decide to do it yourself or hire a contractor.

CES 2016

CES Highlights for Homeowners

Gene and Katie Hamilton
Gene and Katie Hamilton

The sheer magnitude of noise, commotion and fast talking and walking people at CES 2016 can be overwhelming so we were exhausted and excited to be among the 170,000 people at the Consumer Electronics Show in Las Vegas. 3D printers, virtual reality and self-driving cars were popular but we looked at how technology can help homeowners. Here are a few highlights.

We liked MyLifter, a motorized overhead storage device controlled by a smartphone or tablet. The kit includes a platform where you stack up your items and hoist it to the ceiling where you’ve installed the hardware. Get the app from the website and use your cell phone to control the operation.

Many of the drone exhibitors were surprised when we asked: “What size drone would be appropriate for checking damage on a roof or how much debris was in the gutters?” The consensus was a $400 unit that was easy to control and operate with a good HD camera. I know many homeowners who could rationalize that expense especially if they own a two-story house and could avoid hoisting an extension ladder up there on some cold windy day when a leak was noticed in their ceiling.  It seems like a good investment for a contractor or home inspector, too.

Everyone talks about the IoT (Internet of Things) which will connect all the devices in a home so you can operate and manage them from a cell phone. We were impressed with the Nexia system at built on an open architecture platform, which means it works with products from a number of different manufacturers. That gives a homeowner the choice of using products they choose based on their need and budget.

I’m not sure homeowners are ready to commit on a major scale, but there’s a real convenience factor using one system to manage the irrigation system for the yard, turning on lights inside and outside before returning home on a dark night, and knowing the heating and  cooling system was operating.

To compare the cost of doing it yourself vs. hiring a contractor for hundreds of home improvement projects visit us at



What Should Be in a Remodeling Contract


A written contract with a contractor is an agreement between a homeowner and the contractor to perform work and services in a certain amount of time, for a specific dollar amount and using specific materials.  Before you sign a contract with a contractor take a look at the information specified in the agreement.  It should include these features and details for a remodeling project.

*Contractor’s name, address, telephone, cell and pager numbers and license information
*Homeowner’s name, address, home and business telephone and cell numbers, and location of the job site
*Detailed job description of work to be completed
*Description of how the surrounding area will be protected from the work area
*Description of daily and end-of-job cleanup work to be completed
*Itemized list of all material used naming the brand, model number, size, color, style and other information about the material
*Copies of drawings and specifications
*Starting and completion dates of work
*Time of day that workers are expected to arrive and leave the site
*Specifications regarding the work performed will meet or exceed the building code
*Responsibility of who will pay for and obtain any required building permits
*Financial terms clearly stated and including the total price, payment schedule with penalty for cancellation or incentive for completing the job before deadline
*Required homeowner’s signature for approval before work begins
*Procedure for implementing change orders when work is underway
*Right of homeowner to cancel the contract within three days of signing it
*Clause about binding arbitration that allows both homeowner and contractor to resolve a dispute without involving lawyers
*Warranty covering materials and workmanship for a minimum of one year
*Commitment about homeowner not being liable for a third party claim for nonpayment of materials or subcontractors

To compare the cost of hundreds of improvement projects visit us at