On Wednesday, Buck and I spent the morning at the vet's office for a wellness check. At 14 years of age (that's 98 to you and me) Buck has been in declining health and finding it very difficult to get up the stairs or worse yet, jump up on the bed (he's not supposed to, but he still finds a way).
A champion retriever and a fantastic running mate during his prime, he's had to learn to leave the ball behind and slowly pace himself on the trails. I suppose it's inevitable that as we age, we all come up against compounding degenerative issues that force us to readjust our activities. Admittedly, both Buck and I are slower and more arthritic than we use to be (sigh) but nothing diminishes our commitment to one another. (This is true love.)
Unfortunately, "degenerative issues" aren't just the purview of people and their pets, they are also an accurate description when we speak about our homes as well. Unless we are diligent about their upkeep, our homes are going to become worse with wear, and that's just the stuff we can see. Yes, carpet runners need to be replaced, windows need washing, and hallways need painting with regularity, but it's the items that aren't front and center that can really cost us BIG bucks and leave us a little shell shocked come time to sell.
Outdated foundations, leaking roofs, water intrusion, and active infestations behind our walls - just to name a few - can all lead to expensive repairs down the road. Not surprisingly, it's when we go to sell, that most of these items are identified, often for the first time, and much to the homeowner's dismay.
So how much is that going to cost?
(A bundle in all likelihood.)
Listen, a plumbing leak is problematic enough without compounding the damage by waiting far too long to repair it and then dealing with water behind the walls or damage to the floor joists. When water begins to appear where it shouldn't, you need to take IMMEDIATE action - not wait years and hope it will go away (it won't).
But what about the damage that isn't so visible? How do we deal with what we don't know? Listen, I hear you loud and clear. When Cliff and I started the downstairs remodel on Littlewood, it was shocking to discover that most of the wood behind the plaster walls had been eaten by termites so badly that the framing looked like Swiss cheese (yikes!). In fact, our contractor wondered how the house was still standing, given the massive amounts of deterioration. I wondered too.
And what about the ongoing (annoying) small maintenance issues like changing air filters, cleaning out your dryer vents, and removing debris from the gutters that need to be addressed with regularity, but rarely are? These too can lead to dramatic and unwelcome surprises that can cost far more than a new air filter if simply changed twice a year. (Did you know clogged dryer vents are the number one cause of home fires?!)
So what's the answer short of suddenly becoming "handy?"
The answer lies is in staying informed and while monitoring our homes may not be high on the priority list, the idea of a "wellness check-up" for our domiciles is long overdue, given that Bay Area properties are very expensive investments. In other words, "an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure!"
Enter my friend Shannon Bloemker, a Piedmont resident and brilliant entrepreneur who thought the same thing and created a company called"Glasshouse" which literally manages your house for you. For a small monthly fee, your home will essentially have concierge service and will receive four quarterly maintenance visits a year. Which means you''ll proactively circumvent problems before they arise. (What a concept.)
So think about it, for less than you probably spend on coffee each month, and far less than you pay for a security system, your Internet service, your TV channels, or the gardener who tends your lawns, your home will have someone checking and maintaining the working components regularly:refrigerator (check),dishwasher (check), hot water heater (check), HVAC system(check), thermostat (check), gutters (check), toilets (check), leaking pipes (check, check, and check!)
Whether you are a seasoned homeowner or brand new to this game, Isn't it worth $50 a month to keep your single-largest asset in tip-top shape?
(Yes, it is.) I've already scheduled my appointment and so should you. ALL of our homes need a little ongoing TLC (just like our pets, our cars, our teeth . . .)and they will all benefit from it as well - and so will we by avoiding much costlier repairs down the road. Thank Shannon for reinventing the "home warranty" model. Glasshouse is a fantastic new concept that should dramatically change the way we care for our homes.
Interested? Click here to sign up and set an appointment. Your home will thank you - and so will your Realtor!
How can I help you?
Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 17 years and has published more than 650 essays. She is also a frequent contributor to the Sound Off column in the Real Estate section of The San Francisco Chronicle.