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Maintaining Your House

  • Transcript

    LESLIE: Well, if you’re tightening your belt, you may be thinking about slashing your home-maintenance budget and that could be a huge mistake.

    TOM: That’s right. It’s never a good idea to slack off on taking care of your biggest investment. And don’t be chintzy with it, either. Here to explain why is This Old House host, Kevin O’Connor, who’s a guy that’s never been known to be chintzy.

    KEVIN: Hi, guys.

    TOM: So, Kevin, when it comes to just about any project that you know you have to do, even though you may not feel like it, the hardest part is just getting started. Any tips to help us just get going and make it a bit easier?

    KEVIN: Well, I think you’re 100-percent accurate. Most people want to spend their weekends out on the golf course or biking around with the kids. And the thought of getting back into the house and fixing leaky faucets or scraping paint is not all that exciting for folks.

    But that being said, you know, you do have to understand that your house is one of the biggest assets you’re going to own, so it makes sense to take care of it. And it’s also where you spend so much of your time, so you owe it to yourself to make it a comfortable place.

    And there are a lot of home improvement projects out there, ranging in all different sizes, but so far as I’m concerned, every single one of those is really just a group of smaller projects. And if you break it down into the little pieces, it’s a lot easier to get started, knowing that you just have to start with a little, tiny project and then move on from there.

    LESLIE: And is it best to sort of prioritize the importance of the project itself? Make a list that’s like, “I have to do this. This can wait a couple of weeks”? Should you tackle it in that sense?

    KEVIN: Yeah, sure. A list of must-dos and should-dos and then the kind of I’d-like-to-dos is a great way to go about it. And there are things in your house that if you don’t address, they’re just going to get worse. If you’ve got plumbing that is leaking, it may not seem like that drip is that big of a deal but it’s dripping somewhere. And next thing you know, a leaky pipe’s going to turn into a rotted wall that’s going to turn into damaged sheetrock.

    TOM: Well, that’s right. I mean look, your toilet’s a perfect example of that. If you’ve got a very slow drip-drip-drip under that wax seal, pretty soon you’re going to be looking at the need to rip out your bathroom floor.

    KEVIN: Yeah, absolutely.

    TOM: It takes a very small project …

    LESLIE: And possibly the ceiling below.

    TOM: That’s absolutely true.

    But you’re right, Kevin. It all starts with the first step and those small projects are the way to get going, because the first one always seems like it’s going to be 100 pounds to lift that weight. But once you do that, you build up a bit of momentum.

    KEVIN: No, absolutely. And I think if you break it down, in my mind, the priorities for me are basic maintenance. If something is broken and it’s starting to deteriorate, you go after those first, right? So stop the leak before it gets worse.

    After that, the things that have the big effects, so far as I’m concerned, are curb appeal. You can get outside and get around the house. The things that you see and touch every day, how the house looks, cleaning up paint, scraping off some old chips and stuff like that, that’s good. Then move to the bigger projects and then even start thinking about where does your work stop and the work of a professional begin. Because you do have to call those guys in at some point.

    LESLIE: So, Kevin, when it comes down to the time that you actually have to hire a pro, is it best to sort of lump a group of projects together before you bring that person in or should you really just tackle the important stuff and let whatever happens down the road happen?

    KEVIN: I think it depends on your relationship with the professional. If you’ve got a good relationship with someone who’s come to your house time and time again and has served you well, then I don’t think it’s any problem having these things done piecemeal. “Joe, will you fix this for me and just that? We’ll have you back in a couple weeks or a couple months to do something else.”

    If you’re going out and going to spend your time trying to find just the right person and it’s going to be a pretty big investment, well, then you probably want to have them there and do several things at once. Because as you guys know really well, getting them to come is not always easy and there’s a lot of work and time in the setup and the breakdown of all these things. So make it efficient for them and save yourself a couple bucks.

    TOM: It’s also important to find one that doesn’t charge you more just because you started it first.

    KEVIN: That’s true.

    TOM: Kevin O’Connor, host of This Old House, thanks so much for stopping by The Money Pit.

    KEVIN: My pleasure, guys.

    TOM: And for more tips just like that, you can visit ThisOldHouse.com.

    LESLIE: And you can watch Kevin and the entire This Old House team on This Old House and Ask This Old House on your local PBS station.

    TOM: And both This Old House, as well as Ask This Old House, are brought to you by The Home Depot. More saving, more doing.

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