"Your lights look a little anemic," my sister Jill said, looking at my sad little row on the porch railing. "If you like, I can get someone to come over and help."
She was right, my lighting job had been a little underwhelming, especially when compared to my neighbor's dazzling display, but paying someone to hang Christmas lights works against my Sacramento roots. Still, it was an idea worth considering.
"Okay, let's do it," I said, conceding the argument. "Ask them to come while Cliff and I are in New York." (We're hosting his law class at the house this week and it's a good excuse to decorate.)
On cue, Jill called a professional window washer we've recently discovered, who also hangs Christmas lights as a side business, or in our case - Hanukkah lights! Listen, I've done my best to embrace my husband's Jewish heritage (bagels, black & whites, rugalah, NYC - what's not to love?) but the menorah somehow doesn't fill the bill for this girl who grew up with a Christmas tree and all the assorted decorations. You can have the tree, the presents, the Christmas dinner, but I'm keeping the lights; they make me happy.
But it's also worth noting that it required a couple of fearless guys with very tall ladders (and health insurance) to get up to the second story and hang the lines correctly. (They're even on timers.) The bonus is that it kept Cliff and me from attempting this dangerous task ourselves. Given that Cliff is already on crutches, why push our luck? (It's not worth the few bucks we'd save.) What's more, this crew takes down the decorations after the holidays are over. ("That's what I'm talkin' 'bout Willis!")
And while, certainly, this job didn't come without a price tag attached to it, I've learned that some things are better left to those who know what they are doing. In fact, there's true value leaving it to the pros who know their craft. I've spent enough time in the homes of "do-it-yourselfers" in my career to observe that, in nearly every case, the weekend work performed by the homeowner doesn't hold a candle (a Hanukah reference, thank you very much) to the skills a professional brings to bear. Which isn't to say that these self-taught handymen don't know what they're doing - exactly - but that they don't know enough (and therein lies the problem).
Paint jobs that aren't primed correctly peel almost immediately, seismic retrofitting absent tie-downs or appropriate nuts and bolts are virtually worthless, room additions without permits are invitations to a "Cease and Desist" order, loose toilets that shake, rattle and roll can have dire consequences, upside down insulation doesn't really insulate, and amateur roofs can be incredibly COSTLY! (That's not good.)
So let me ask you this . . . "If the work isn't performed correctly, in the end, what did you really save?" I'm betting that ripping out the work to do it right will cost you far more, if not in actual dollars, than in the time you spent away from doing the things you really love, and with the people you love to do them with.(Go to the ball game or the golf course on Saturday and let someone with real experience do the heavy lifting. You've earned it.)
"Experience" is what you seek in a Real Estate professionals as well.Those of us with more time in the game, typically bring a stronger tool belt to the transaction because we've honed our skills through hundreds of sales. In short, we know where the mind fields lay, know how to answer the question marks around disclosures, understand market value vs. intrinsic value, intimately know neighborhood amenities, schools, shopping, community (you name it, we've recommended it), and can appropriately guide you with respect to the improvements that best serve a sale (and the ones that probably don't)!
BTW, if it's a consultation you seek as to what to do and what not to skip, give me a call. I really enjoy sitting down with homeowners whether they're seeking to sell now, or several years down the road. Together, we can create a list of "To Dos" that will improve your sale when you eventually decide to make the move. AND I can also recommend tried-and-true professionals I've used throughout the years (or newly discovered treasures. Thank you West Coastn' Windows @510.508.8950. The house looks beautiful.)
So as our year winds down and we start to make a punch list of all the things we really should address as we move into 2018, place "hire a professional" at the top of that list. You won't regret it and you'll potentially save yourself thousands of dollars in corrections.
Light it up!
How can I help you?
Check out my home services list: juliegardner.com/our-team
P.S. My new email address is: firstname.lastname@example.org
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 15 years and has published more than 600 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.