The Professional Choice

A companion overview to the popular "Ask Mr. Handyman" radio program airing on Christian Talk Radio, KCRO 660AM Saturdays @ 9:30AM.

Wednesday, April 9, 2014

VIEW YOUR HOME AS AN ASSET…though it can be a liability.

 In the American culture we pay for things we don’t want to do ourselves or pay for someone else’s expertise.   Here are a few examples:

We pay a doctor to evaluate and treat us and our loved ones.  We pay an accountant to complete our taxes, prepare our books or keep payroll.  We pay the HVAC, Electrician, Plumber or other tradesman to repair fixtures or appliances in our homes, and we pay an investment company, stockbroker or financial planner to help us decide where to sock away our earnings for the best return.

For many Americans their home is one of the largest investments they will make.  Though you may not view it as an asset which will provide you a return, neglect it and you may have to pony up some cash to sell it; a pickle many have been in the past few years.

So far this season we have found numerous points of deterioration on some of our customer’s homes.  In several cases if we had not been at the home already it is most likely the damage would have been overlooked and progressed into an even costlier repair.  In the long run, the money you spend today on the maintenance and upkeep of your home will prevent you from spending thousands more if it were to be neglected. 

There are no construction companies that offer a Home Maintenance Program to the degree that Mr. Handyman does.  We systematically inspect and perform numerous tasks that are often neglected by the homeowner.  The neglect is rarely willful; it’s just a matter of skill level and free time. 

While the performance of the maintenance tasks is the key to the program I feel the most important, yet virtually unrealized benefit is this:  Twice a year you will have a professional set of eyes inspecting and looking at the condition of your home.

Here are the basics of our Annual Maintenance Program:

·         Peace of Mind Twice each year, in the spring and in the fall Mr. Handyman initiates the call to schedule your appointment.

·         Maintains Home Value We inspect and perform routine maintenance tasks specifically for your home. Catching and stopping any deterioration will maintain the value of your home.

·         Reduced Cost of Home Repairs Maintaining is less costly than repairing.  Spend $100’s now in maintenance or $1000’s later in repairs. 

·         Maintenance Checklist At the time of sale you will have a detailed accounting of the maintenance records of your home, a potential great selling point

 To learn more about our program or to sign up please give our office a call at 402-502-5212.  We would be happy to get started this season for you.  Sign up this spring and allow Mr Handyman to become your financial "protector" for your home.

Monday, March 3, 2014

Omaha Water 7th Worst in US!

Omaha' tap water ranked 7th worst in a study conducted by The Environmental Working Group.  Read more about it by clicking here
Some of the water Metropolitan Utilities District filters and treats for use in your tap water comes from the Missouri River and some of it comes out of wells dug in Sarpy County and Western Omaha.
The Environmental Working Group found 42 of the 142 contaminates they tested for in Omaha's water.  One-half of the 42 were above health guidelines and 4 were above the safe limit established by the EPA.
If this study has you thinking about your options to provide safe and clean drinking water to your family, you are not alone.  Many people go through cases of bottled drinking water each year but there are consequences to buying the bottles too.  Do you really know the quality of the water you are purchasing?  Were the cases out in the sun too long during shipping?  Are there contaminates related to the thin plastic bottles?  What is the impact to the environment and landfills with so many used, depleted bottles?
Another option is to purchase jugs and bottles and have them refilled at many locations throughout the Omaha area.  Most grocery stores and health food stores have a water station to fill your own jugs.  It is usually less costly than buying cases of the bottled water and less impact to the environment.
By far the best option is to have a water filtering and conditioning system installed in your own home.  It would be the most cost effective and least impact to the environment than the other two options.  A water softener would allow you to use 1/4 of the normal amount of soap and detergents as you do with the hard tap water from MUD.  Your skin and hair would feel soft and clean when you exit the shower with no residue of soap remaining to give you the itches.
For your drinking water the best choice is a Reverse Osmosis system, usually installed under the kitchen sink or in the basement.  It uses the water line pressure to force water through a very effective filter which removes 99% of most contaminates and hard minerals.  The filters usually last a year or so before you need to have them replaced.

The best local source for both of these installed units is Futuramic's Clean Water Center. They sell and service most water conditioning systems like the water softeners and reverse osmosis systems.  They can rent the systems out for a low monthly cost and provide service each year to ensure the units are working at their top quality.  They've been in Omaha since 1969 and do they ever know about water!  They even have fresh, filtered water on tap so you can refill your own jugs.
There are so many other reasons to get a softener and RO unit installed in your home.  Talk to the folks at Futuramic's, they'll test your water and give you all of the great data and information you need.  You can reach them at 402.453.5730

Monday, January 27, 2014

Save On Home Ownership Costs!

Each season Mr Handyman is asked to complete repairs on some of our best customer’s homes.  Many times these repairs could have been avoided and even eliminated if the maintenance had been completed the season before.  It does not take long for minor neglect in the maintenance to turn in to a huge repair issue.  I know I may sound like a broken record to many of you that read this monthly column but the savings is so significant you should at least try it.

Here are just a few examples where the neglect of the maintenance has cost the homeowner in a huge way:
Case #1 Neglected Windows
In June 2012, a long-standing customer of Mr Handyman had us out to clean his gutters.  While there we advised him about some rot starting around a lower section of a large bank of windows.  It was estimated at the time it would cost approximately $450 to cut out the rotted wood and perform the maintenance on the rest of the window area.  The minor repair would extend the life of the windows for another 10 years or so. 

In the fall of 2013 this customer called and asked that we complete the $450 job but it had gotten a so much worse.  After inspecting the bank of windows with almost a year and a half of further deterioration it was determined the windows needed to be replaced at a cost of $3850.  

Maintenance $450       Repair $3850       Neglect cost $3400

Case #2 Pressboard Siding
In April of 1012 Mr Handyman was at a customer’s home repairing a few missing shingles.  While on the roof we noticed some minor wood rot where the chimney chase meets the roof line.  We quoted this homeowner $328 to cut out the small amount of rot, replace it with like material and cover it with a trim board.  This customer stated she needed to discuss it with her husband and would be calling us back. 

She called us back but not until the spring of 2013 and stated there was water leaking into the living room near the chimney.  It was determined that the rotted siding had gotten so bad that a hole the size of a cell phone was allowing rainwater into the home and down to the living room ceiling.  The total cost for the siding and ceiling repairs was $1785, which was not enough to meet her insurance deductible.
Maintenance $328      Repair $1785      Neglect Cost $1457               

These are just two of the many, many examples of repair costs that could have been avoided with routine maintenance.  If budget and costs keep you from having the maintenance completed where will you find the funds for the eventual repairs?  In most cases I think people forget about the maintenance or simply do not have the time or expertise to get it done. 

Sign-up to our annual maintenance program to ensure it gets done.  Gain some peace of mind.  Our motto is “Spend hundred$ now in maintenance or Thou$and$ later in repairs.”  Call 402-502-5212 for details.

Monday, January 13, 2014

Preventing Ice Dams

How Ice Dams Form
Winter is in full swing here in the plains states with more snow expected.  A few inches or more of snow can cause ICE DAMMING.  Ice damming happens when snow builds up on the lower 3 feet of roof line, above the extended eaves. What happens is the upper part of the roof starts to melt and the moisture drains down to the lower section that does not melt and gets "dammed up." Basically water pools above the ice and backs up into the home (comes through the roof). Roofs were made to drain off water, not pool water.

Extensive damage can happen in homes if ice damming occurs. Replacement of ceilings, walls and insulation can be very costly. Insurance will probably cover some of these costs but deductibles, replacement time, time off work, coordination hassles etc. will make it well worth the expense to prevent ice damming in the first place.

The most common cause of ice damning is poor insulation or poor ventilation in the attic area.  Both issues are solved at the same time when you hire a professional service company to tackle this issue for you.  There may be other factors in play like a huge amount of snow fall.  A snow rake could be used to remove the loose snow at the eaves of your house or a drift in a valley that remains way too long.    

A weaving pattern of electrical heat tape is a common fix but should only be installed as a last resort and installed by a professional service company.  To extend the life of the heat tape it should only be turned on during the periods of time snow or ice is present on the roof.  

If you are a Do-It-Yourself type of homeowner, here are a few tried and true tips for the occasional ice dam.  If you have some old panty hose laying around the house you could fill them with "Ice Melt" (must be calcium chloride, not rock salt) and lay them vertical on the ice dam. The point is to make several vertical breaks through the ice dam so melted snow has a place to drain off the roof.  

If your gutters are full of ice and overhanging with icicles, use the pantyhose trick and lay them on top of the ice along the gutter line.  The ice will eventually melt and clean up the ice dam.  These are great tips for the adventurous but the best overall method is to remove the loose snow right away.

If you have had ice dams on your roof in the past chances are you will have them again unless you took corrective measures to prevent them.  Call Mr Handyman @ 402.502.5212 before it happens again.  Mr. Handyman can help you solve this issue.

Tuesday, November 26, 2013

Are Alarm Systems Safe?

Many homeowners have an alarm system installed in their home thinking it will stop a criminal from breaking into their home.  Some believe the yard sign alone acts like a deterrent, that a burglar may pass over a particular home with an alarm company logo out front but will it actually stop the determined criminal from breaking in?

The most valuable thing an alarm system can offer is notification of a trigger event.  It will notify the homeowner, the alarm company and, through their third-party call center, the police that a break-in occurred, presence of fire or smoke, a carbon monoxide leak or a panic situation such as a hostage event is taking place.

The installed alarm systems are touted as providing the homeowner “peace of mind” and a guarantee of your family’s safety is ensured.  They sell millions of systems under these pretenses.  Don’t get me wrong, alarm systems have their place.  I've had them for all of the benefits I know they offer but I also know that they are just one component of ensuring peace and security in my home.

A determined burglar does not fear the alarm company yard sign.  He knows with one swift kick on the door he and his band of thieves can rummage through your home, gather up their bounty, load up their vehicle and be gone before the police are able to respond.  The average police response time nationwide is seven minutes.  That’s once the police have been notified, after the alarm company has gone through their call procedures.  Realistically, more than 10 minutes may pass before the black and white vehicle pulls up.

Ok, now picture the determined psychopath.  It could be the ex-husband, your daughter’s ex-boyfriend or the irate parent of the child your son tackled in Pop Warner football the night before.  What will stop this lunatic from entry into your home to do you and your loved ones harm?  The alarm system panic bottom may get the police there… seven minutes?  What harm could a crazed psychopath do in that amount of time?  Would your family ever recover from such an event?

The best defense is to keep them from gaining entry until help can arrive or you can arm yourself.  Most burglars and crazed psychopaths break down the front door to gain immediate access.  The door frame fails because there is only about ½ inch of soft wood to break through at the latch and dead-bolt.  It’s relatively easy for someone to kick with enough force to bust through it. 

Mr Handyman sells and installs a door protection system that reinforces the door frame, the door hinge side and the handle area that will stop the most crazed psychopath from kicking in your door.  It is inexpensive and would be a great addition to your home security system.  Call and ask for Dan at 402-502-5212 for more information.

Wednesday, October 30, 2013

This Holiday Season, Observe your Senior Parents

Senior living centers receive more calls after the holidays than any other time of the year. Spend some quality time with your senior parent or grandparent, in their home and observe them in their daily tasks. Do they struggle bathing, using the toilet or fixing a meal? Sometimes they struggle with the most basic task. Watch and observe.

Today, seniors are remaining in their homes longer, and usually alone. Many adult children do not recognize how much of a struggle their loved one is having in completing daily tasks until a bad fall or other scare triggers a good evaluation and information quest. Most seniors are either too stubborn or too proud to admit they need help or assistance until it’s too late.

Planning to live out your senior years in relative comfort is like planning your will, an uneasy task for most but very much a necessity. The old fear that a "nursing home" is the only option has been diminished with in-home care, senior living centers, assisted living and specialized care facilities. If the determination is made to remain in the home there are some common home modifications that need to be considered.

Falls are a major problem for senior citizens. Sixty percent of falls happen in the home. Bathrooms are the main concern and in fact, are the most common area to require modifications. Reducing the chance for falls in the bathroom is the most important task to consider. These modifications may be extremely minor, like adding grab bars or putting a riser on the toilet to completely revamping the bathroom for wheel-chair access, a walk-in tub or pedestal sink.

Replacing old knob-style faucets for the newer, lever-style ones is a simple change, and is especially helpful for people with arthritis. Showers are generally safer than tubs for senior citizens because there is a smaller sidewall to step over. A hand-held shower adaptor and a portable stool is an inexpensive modification that can be installed in a few minutes but it will not relieve the risk of stepping over the side of the tub. Walk-in tubs are a great addition but not for everybody.

Grab bars are essential but they must be properly affixed to the wall. Suction cup grab bars are not recommended regardless what the TV commercials state! Non-slip flooring is a must! A grab bar at the top of a stairway may help to transition from the top step to a landing area.

Kitchen modifications are usually most necessary when the occupant has true physical handicaps and in need of a wheelchair.

Wheel-chair ramps, stair-lift units and other home entry modifications are most often thought about when thinking of ‘aging-in place’ but the bathroom is the place most falls take place. The most important factor is to plan ahead. Add these “senior-friendly” home modifications BEFORE they become a “must-have” item. If you witness your elder parent struggle a bit this Christmas season, consider having some of the basic items installed by a professional to assist them before a major fall awakens you to their condition. Act rather than react! You may just save them and you a whole lot of pain and suffering.

Tuesday, October 29, 2013

Safety Tips for our Senior Population

Household dangers are lurking all throughout the home; and if you’re a member of our senior population, the risks are even greater.

Interior and exterior lights using motion sensors or photo cells can light the way to safety. Inside the house, place them in the frequently traveled paths at night; like between the bed and bathroom or on your way to the kitchen. Outside, replace the lights that require a flip of the switch with a motion sensor or a photo cell, so you’re never caught in the dark upon returning home.

Decorative and bath rugs are attractive, but without proper backing or with backing that’s worn down, they can be a slip, trip, or fall hazard. Check and make sure they still grip the floor, and if not, add a non-skid backing or toss them out.

All inside or outside stairs need to have a hand railing. As you age you may want to consider installing one on each side of the stairwell for your assistance in navigating those steps.

Your home should already be equipped with working smoke detectors. Each year have someone check their functionality, batteries, and that they’re clear of dust and debris. Cans of compressed air can be purchased and used for cleaning computer keyboards and blowing out cobwebs and dust from your smoke detectors. Carbon monoxide detectors are a must if you have a gas heater, water heater or attached garage.

Finally, put safety over vanity and be honest with yourself when it’s time to install grab bars, handrails, non-skid strips in the bathtubs and showers. Installing a few of these much needed safety items prior to absolutely needing them will enable you an opportunity to ease into their use as you age and become more dependent upon them.