THE ANNUAL builder’s holidays start on December 15, so if you need professional building help, ask now before you end up paying excessive holiday rates.
So with the holidays beckoning, I thought we’d do a walk around the house to make sure everything is secure before you take off.
If you have a builder on site, try to be patient because it may be impossible for him to keep all his promises. Staff start to disappear, materials become scarce and subcontractors are over-extended. It is probably better to endure unfinished work than have it rushed and badly finished. Insist that all rubble is removed and that unused materials are either removed from site or stored neatly. Ensure that all keys or remotes you may have issued are returned.
If you are not in the house while the building is going on, ensure that the necessary security measures are in place to minimise the likelihood of theft. Also check the builder has insurance, and that your insurers have been fully notified of the situation.
As we are now well into the south-easter season, give the roof another once-over to check that everything is well secured. Make sure that all overhanging trees have been cut back from gutters and are not blocking any alarm beams.
Check that your alarm system is working – many people do not set their alarms daily and suddenly find out at the last minute there is a problem. Remember to notify your response company that you will be away and give them the relevant contact numbers. Confirm that the back-up battery is in good condition and will function despite power failures.
Don’t forget to check the condition of batteries which may run other items, such as timers, smoke detectors and irrigation systems.
After a great break, you don’t want to come home and dive into a green swimming pool, so check that the pump is working properly, that the right chemicals have been added for the period, and that the timer is set for longer than usual.
If you use gas for cooking and heating, ensure supplies are switched off at the tank; for safety’s sake disconnect the cylinders. I’ll look at gas installations in more detail in later columns – the regulations are changing all the time. Remember, an illegal installation will invalidate any insurance claims.
Check that all door locks and security doors are working. Lock room doors behind you, remove the keys and either take them with you or leave them with a neighbour. Have all broken window panes fixed and check that all windows close properly and that the catches work.
If your garden is watered by a well point or borehole, turn the water off at the mains, or switch off all stopcocks and ensure that all taps are off – many homes are flooded while people are away.
Once everything is switched off, check that the water meter is not turning; this is the best method of checking you have no leaks.
Finally switch all unnecessary electricity off at the distribution board. Where circuits are live, unplug all appliances from the plug sockets – an item left on standby is live, and this together with an overloaded adaptor is one of the largest causes of domestic fires.
Remember the old faithfuls: ensure someone collects your post, picks up newspapers and takes the rubbish bin back in.