Owning your own home has long been seen as an essential part of the American Dream. But houses? Those things are money pits. When we first bought our place, it didn’t seem too bad. We’ve been in there so long now, though, that our weekends are inevitably filled with a never-ending list of tasks. Whether it’s cleaning out the gutters, painting our bathroom a “new” shade of Biscay Bay because the wife thought the last shade wasn’t quite right or reorganizing the storage because it was too difficult to locate the Christmas lights last year, there’s always something to work on. (And, if you’re lucky, it’s just small stuff like that. You could also be battling burst septic pipes or water leaking into a basement, like my buddy had to deal with a few weeks ago.)
In spite of all my warnings, my little girl has somehow decided that she’s old enough to own her own home. As a housewarming gift, I’ve written her a few tips on how to keep her house in good condition. Don’t worry, I also gave her a solid supply of coffee and a new single-serve brewer:
My sweet daughter,
You’ve always made me proud. This is one of the big milestones in your life, and with it, I continue in my pride. I’ve been privileged to watch you, an amazing daughter and friend, excel both personally and professionally. (You get that from me, you know.) And I know you’ll be a great homeowner, too. In my dad-like ways, I’ve decided to provide you with a few guiding beacons in hopes of making your life a little easier:
1. While the garbage disposal may be an easy way to get rid of leftovers (or inedible burnt suppers), you can’t put everything down it. Nor should you. Some foods, like used coffee grounds, are great for your soil or compost bin.
2. Honey, go with an easy-to-maintain lawn. Mulch is an expensive pain in the you know what, so just use plants and bushes that will re-bloom in the coming years, or go with rock, which will always look great (although it may be more of an upfront cost).
3. Every woman I know (your grandma, mom and aunts) can’t get enough of HGTV’s Fixer Upper or Southern Living magazine. These days, there seems to be a big competition to have a “trendy” home immediately. But that’ll come with time; you don’t need to make big purchases right after moving in. Give it some time.
4. In the meantime, there are quick and cheap ways to update your home including rearranging your furniture or possibly updating the walls with a new coat of paint. You’ve heard me say to stay away from wallpaper; this is your reminder! That’s one decorating task best left to a professional.
5. Don’t overload the washer with clothes. (Man, did your mother get mad at me for that one.) And remember to remove the lint from the dryer. Check your dryer exhaust on a warm day (when your dryer is running), and make sure that there is solid air flow. If not, check for any blockages and remove them. Pretty simple.
6. Loving leftovers is great for saving cash but not always great on your fridge. To help with the smell, save your coffee grounds in an open container in the back of the fridge. Replace them every couple of weeks.
7. Don’t take for granted your carbon dioxide and smoke detectors! These have to be checked regularly — quarterly, for sure — throughout the year. This task is easy; just press the TEST button, and if nothing sounds, replace the batteries. If in doubt, replace the unit. Your life is worth it, baby girl.
8. Wood-burning fireplaces are great, but they are a whole lot of work. Be sure to clean out the ashes every couple of burns. Since I know you love coffee as much as I do, sprinkle the used grounds over the ashes before you shovel them up; this eliminates smoke clouds from forming.
9. Clean out your gutters every year just before spring rolls around. Personally, this is my least favorite task, but you’ll be happy you did it when the first major spring storm hits.
10. Check on the caulking on your kitchen and bathroom tile, countertops and sinks. Re-caulk if and when needed. Since you went with a fixer-upper of your own, this will be one of the first things that needs to be checked. Water trouble can be one of the most costly damages to your home.
Luckily, you’re not too far away, so I can still be here to help walk you through these handy little home keep-ups and other home hiccups (since we both know that you learn best by example). All you have to do is call your favorite handyman (me, of course) … and have a cup of coffee ready. You know that I’ll gladly come running.
These are all tasks that I learned the hard way … meaning through high costs. Buying your first home can be a big leap, and maintaining it can be even more stressful. While I’d gladly step in and help my daughter however she needs it, I can only offer you this informative article full of season-by-season tips on managing your home and keeping it in tip-top shape.