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When your home is in a perpetual state of chaos, you need to find ways to reduce your responsibilities so you can focus on taming the current forces at work. In my house, three dogs, a husband, and three kids — not to mention a full-time job and a healthy interest in exercise — keep my days jam-packed. While I can’t say my life isn’t satisfying or fulfilling, I can certainly say that I’m too busy to worry about things that should be at the top of my to-do list. For instance, never once have I thought about taking the time to drain my hot water heater to eliminate sediment build-up, and I wouldn’t ever bother to steam-clean my own carpets or patch the missing shingles on my roof. I simply have too many other things on my mind.
That’s why I outsource the vast majority of my home maintenance — and I don’t feel bad about it, either. Experts might seem expensive, but when you factor in the tools, materials and time you are wasting to maintenance, DIY is just as costly. Here are some of the tasks I think every homeowner should outsource, and how you can do it successfully.
Major System Maintenance
There are a few major systems in your home that no homeowner should service on their own. Some systems are integral to the proper function of your home, which means if you mess up in maintaining some aspect of them, you could seriously compromise the integrity of your property. That’s why it’s pretty essential that you hire professionals to come perform annual check-ups on your major systems. Systems you shouldn’t touch unless you have significant experience include:
- Roof. Professionals should climb up there to look for broken or missing shingles, compromised underlayment and other issues that can arise due to inclement weather, animal activity and more.
- HVAC. As machines, your A/C and furnace or heat pump require tune-ups every year to ensure that individual components within them are functioning well. Experts might also look for signs of mold, corrosion, and dirt and debris impacting performance.
- Electrical. Electrical work is scary, which is the primary reason you shouldn’t DIY it. Annual electrician visits ensure that you don’t have hot spots that could risk a house fire or power outage.
- Plumbing. A plumber will survey your pipes, looking for potential weak spots or leaks as well as clogs. You might also want an annual check-up of your sewer line or septic tank to ensure these are in working order.
You might be thinking “Yeah, duh I’ll hire someone to do the big stuff; I don’t know how to do that!” But, you should also hire someone for the small stuff. Seemingly minor projects and repairs can take time and money that you don’t have; for example, something simple like painting a room might require a few days of work, in patching holes, moving furniture, taping, priming, painting and cleaning up. Before you commit to doing something on your own, you should look into the costs of tools and supplies, and you should estimate the time it will take. If you have other things to do that have a more positive impact on your life, you might want to hire a professional to do the job for you.
It’s a good idea to develop a good relationship with a small handful of service providers, so you know you are getting good service at a good rate. I found a trustworthy Detroit handyman to do most of my smaller house projects, like painting and drywall repair, and you can find a similar expert in your area.
I’m not talking gardening. I love to go outside with a spade and my youngest babe in tow to plant some flowers, harvest some veggies and generally participate with nature. I’m talking about heavy-duty yard work, like mowing the lawn, trimming trees, raking up leaves and twigs and pulling weeds. Yard care is back-breaking work, and after raising a grip of kiddos, I don’t have much back strength left. Plus, because my house is in the city, my backyard doesn’t have the storage space for all the equipment necessary to maintain a yard. You shouldn’t feel bad about hiring a professional yard care team to manage your landscape; in fact, your neighbors might thank you for it!
I’m not a home maintenance expert. I’m just a mom trying to get by, just like you. I’ve found great success in outsourcing my most dreaded chores, and I strongly believe you will do the same — if you can give up the DIY lifestyle and enjoy more time with your kids.