A Single Mom’s Guide to
I had a friend that bought a house about nine years ago, her son was about to turn three and she reveled in the security of owning her own slice of the American dream. She said that being a single mom was (and is!) both challenging and rewarding, but knew that having a house to call her own was the best thing that ever happened to her and her son.
The home that my friend purchased was ten years old and was in excellent condition. As time passed, a variety of issues cropped up. Her way of handling (or not handling) the needed home improvements was fairly typical for a single women who own their own homes. Hopefully, her experiences will help you navigate the waters of home improvement. Here’s wh
at I hope that you can learn from her:
1. You can go places with a good book and a toolbox. The Christmas of the year she moved in, her sister and brother-in-law gave her a toolbox filled with the basics: screwdrivers, wrenches, a hammer, nails, nuts and bolts, and so forth. They also gave her a book on basic home repairs. Their gift literally provided her with the tools needed for unexpected home improvement needs, but it also gave her the confidence she needed to tackle minor home improvement projects. My advice to her was: invest in some tools and use a book or online resources to guide you through the routine maintenance that her house requires.
2. Ask for advice. As a single woman, now 49 years old, she has limited knowledge of more complex home improvement issues, She is always afraid that someone will take advantage her by a contractor. When her air conditioner conked out on a 100-plus degree day, for example, she had no way of knowing if she really needed a new unit. She learned to call on neighbors, family members, and friends – that gave her collective knowledge that exceeded her personal knowledge. They’ve steered her in the right direction on a number of occasions.
3. Keep tabs on the neighbors. All of the houses the immediate vicinity of her house were built by the same builder at roughly the same time. Getting to know the neighbors and talking to them about home improvement can help you get a sense of what to plan for. For example, two years ago my friend began to see that the houses around her were starting to get new roofs. Although she didn’t have a leaky roof, a few months ago she decided to re-roof. She decided to be proactive so she would not get stuck with the expense of drywall repairs in addition to the cost of a new roof.
4. Ask for referrals, and then check them yourself. Through her neighbors’ referrals, She has been able to find a superb roofer, an impeccable exterior house painter, and a terrific tile guy. But I told her not to just rely on their word find out yourself if that contractor was reliable. I told her some of the ways you can do your due diligence is to check with the state’s contractor licensing board to verify their licenses and with the Better Business Bureau to check on past complaints. I also recommended that she get all estimates in writing, and ask for proof of insurance.
5. Don’t put your head in the sand. There has been more than one occasion when she has chosen not to deal with a home improvement issue, and she always regretted it. She knew, for example, that the exterior of my fireplace had some dry rot. Unfortunately, by letting it go for so long it cost her much more than if she would have dealt with it immediately.
6. Make a list. This last bit of advice is basic, but critical advice I gave her. Start and keep a home improvement list. As a single mom, it’s all too easy to get caught up in the hectic pace of daily life and let routine home maintenance fall by the wayside. Divide your home improvement list into three sections: one for items that need attention in the next three months; one for home improvement projects for the coming year; and one that maps out what she wants to accomplish with the house over the next five years. The short- and medium-term lists keep her motivated, while her long-term list helped save the money she needed for the big-ticket items.
I hope that this guide can help you in your quest to maintain your home! If you have any questions about a home improvement project, please give me a call at 773-490-5877. #designbuild #homeremodeling #newconstruction