Pri­or­i­tiz­ing reno work helps get it done

Winnipeg Free Press - Section G - - HOMES - MIKE HOLMES

IT’S easy to let all those main­te­nance and re­pair jobs build up around the house. Most home­own­ers are in the same sit­u­a­tion — you fix one thing and three other new re­pair projects mag­i­cally ap­pear. Or, how about this sit­u­a­tion: you get half­way through a re­pair when an­other area of the house re­quires im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion and you have to aban­don the first job. Be­fore you know it, you are sur­rounded by a patch­work of half com­pleted fixes.

If this sounds like you and you don’t know where to start, you should take a sec­ond to step back and make a pri­or­ity list.

I don’t think you need to have more than a limited knowl­edge and ex­pe­ri­ence of con­struc­tion to do this, just some com­mon sense. That will help you make a mas­ter plan that will tell you the or­der in which the re­pairs should be tack­led.

The first part is easy — make two ba­sic lists: Need To Do and Want To Do.

For the Need col­umn, just walk around your home in­side and out and take note of any ir­reg­u­lar­i­ties. (Note I’m not say­ing ‘prob­lems’. Just what doesn’t look right.) You don’t need to try and get tech­ni­cal, or list the prob­a­ble un­der­ly­ing cause of the prob­lem — just list what doesn’t look right to you. For ex­am­ple, you might see that the paint is bub­bling in a bed­room. Just write, Paint Bub­ble on wall in (mas­ter bed­room).

As for the Want col­umn, that’s com­pletely up to you. But to my mind, the list needs to be re­al­is­tic, based on bud­get and time. So in­stead of writ­ing some­thing like To­tal Kitchen Makeover, try to break it down to items you would want worked on specif­i­cally. One item on your list might be, Re­place old coun­ter­tops with new lam­i­nate coun­ter­top. These spe­cific points will help you talk to the con­trac­tor you bring in to do the job.

When you com­pare the two col­umns I’ll bet you’ll find that the Need’ col­umn is far longer than you ex­pected. Get­ting to any­thing listed in the Want col­umn might look pretty un­likely. But you need to re­mem­ber that your home is all in­ter­con­nected and in the process of re­pair­ing an item on the Need To Do list, it might ef­fect an item in your Want To Do list, and you get to knock off an item on each list with just one re­pair project.

The tricky part in mak­ing a pri­or­ity list is know­ing what needs im­me­di­ate at­ten­tion, what can wait awhile, and also — how long it can wait. This is where you will prob­a­bly need some pro­fes­sional help. A gen­eral con­trac­tor or knowl­edge­able handy­man or a qual­i­fied Home In­spec­tor can be of as­sis­tance here. An ex­pe­ri­enced pro­fes­sional can ar­range the items on the list by sim­ply giv­ing an ed­u­cated guess at prob­a­ble causes, and fol­low­ing some gen­eral rules. But for an ac­cu­rate as­sess­ment, they will need to take a close look at each item and get an in­di­ca­tion of the con­di­tion of the prob­lem and check to see if the is­sue is caus­ing col­lat­eral dam­age to other ar­eas in the house.

When a pro­fes­sional works with you to ar­range the items in your Need To Do list, what they are look­ing for would be any­thing that might have neg­a­tive long-term af­fects on the struc­ture. Pub­lic en­emy No. 1 is al­ways wa­ter pen­e­tra­tion. When it comes to deal­ing with wa­ter, the gen­eral rule for pri­or­i­tiz­ing (with ex­cep­tions) is to start at the top of the house, and work your way down.

This means the in­tegrity of your roof is ev­ery­thing. Even a small leak can cause big trou­ble to the rest of the house. Let’s say you have a roof leak as well as a base­ment leak, if you need to choose which one to ad­dress first, it would be the roof.

Why? Be­cause wa­ter trav­els down­hill. Ev­ery­thing be­low that roofline is in dan­ger of be­ing dam­aged — trusses, in­su­la­tion, dry­wall, joists, trim, hard­wood floor­ing, paint (like that paint bub­ble on the bed­room wall) and on and on, mul­ti­plied down through each level in the house, un­til the wa­ter even­tu­ally reaches the base­ment.

The base­ment leak on its own, as se­ri­ous as it might ap­pear, the wa­ter dam­age is only limited to the base­ment, and not the en­tire house. So, it is the lesser of two evils. This gen­eral rule ap­plies to sit­u­a­tions like plumb­ing as well. If you have a leak in an up­stairs bath­room, it would be pri­or­i­tized over the base­ment for the same rea­son.

We are not ig­nor­ing the base­ment, that leak will even­tu­ally need to be ad­dressed, but in the pri­or­ity as­sess­ment by your pro­fes­sional con­trac­tor, they will be look­ing at all fac­tors such as — is the base­ment sit­u­a­tion a sea­sonal oc­cur­rence? Is the base­ment fin­ished or un­fin­ished? Is mould growth an is­sue? These and other con­sid­er­a­tions will put it in its proper place­ment within the list.

Once you have your pri­or­ity list fin­ished, and a game plan, the only thing to do now is get to work, and of course, make it right!

Fix­ing ev­ery­thing that’s wrong with a home may seem daunt­ing, but if you break it

up into smaller projects and pri­or­i­tize cor­rectly, it will be more man­age­able.

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