For my Friends who want to Age in Place:
I’ m going to talk about my mom and dad in this blog. Hearing it may cause you to think fondly of your parents. I hope so.
My parents are amazingly wonderful people. They’ve earned their parenthood green berets and I admit to owning my fair share of the grey hairs that adorn their lovely heads.
As a teenager, I was a pretty rowdy kid. I was always curious about how things worked and loved to tinker at my dad’s workbench in the basement. I enjoyed taking things apart and finding out how they worked. I inherited this from my father, one of the greatest dumpster divers I know. Up until he physically couldn’t, dad would search for things in dumpsters that could be still be useful to someone. He would fetch it out and bring it home to his workbench and fix it up. He was always looking for someone who could use a box fan or a mirror with a frame had fix, or a shelf.
My parents love living in their home. Neither of them drive now – they depend on me and my wife and my sister and her husband for getting around. Whenever we return them home after an outing, they are just so happy to be back in their cozy space over in Mackenzie Hills. It makes me happy that they have a space like that where they feel safe and comfortable.
Creating a space like that for them took methodical planning and work. My dad has disabilities now. He has advanced dementia and a serious heart condition. He must use a walker to get around. Falling is a big risk for both of them. Bathing is a challenge. There are times when my dad needs access to the bathroom with little to no notice. Also, he needs help standing up, so handles and supports are a must.
There were other problems in the home that needed to be addressed in order for them to be safe:
● Getting into the house was a challenge. My dad had to negotiate multiple steps to get in the front door.
● The walk around the side of the house and the back patio were made from pavers that were uneven and had weeds growing up through them, a real tripping hazard.
● The roof was old and the gutters were perpetually clogged with leaves from the two huge trees in the back yard and dad was in no condition to clear them out.
So we’ve spent money and effort to ensure they are able to age in place. We replaced the driveway and graded it so it slopes directly up to the threshold of the front door. We also replaced the sidewalk and back patio with stamped and colored concrete with a very low profile to remove the chance of tripping. We installed a new bathroom in the basement and put a safety step-in tub in the upstairs bath. The roof was replaced as were the gutters with a leaf guard system. And we installed handles where needed for safety. All of that was important to preserving their ability to continue living in the home. It cost a fair amount of money for these two who live on a fixed income, but we worked through it and it has all been doable.
Making changes to the home to accommodate their needs has been important, but there is another dimension that had to be considered.
As my parents have aged and become more disabled, the ability to simply maintain the things in the home that need to be kept up with has become a challenge. My dad was able to do all that up until about five years ago, but those days are over. They are lucky; they have children who are able to take care of all those things for them.
But many good people I know do not have a situation like that. For the past few years, I’ve run a general home repair and maintenance business. I have a number of wonderful clients of a certain age who periodically reach out to me for help with this or that around the house and I love being able to help them.
During the past few year as I’ve ran Nate’s Handyman Services, I’ve started looking at the kinds of projects I get called to come do differently. Many of them are problems that require a lot of work that could have been resolved with less effort and cost if they had been identified through regular preventative evaluation and maintenance.
I think of one woman I helped some time ago. Her name was Florence. She called me one day in a panic saying she could hear water shooting under her house in the crawl space and she had no water pressure in the house. I went to have a look and discovered that her hot water heater sprung a leak at some point. It had leaked for so long that it had rotted out the subfloor beneath it and had fallen down into the crawl space below her home. That repair work took a few days to complete and cost thousands of dollars for material and labor. With routine evaluation and preventative maintenance, the leak would have been identified and repaired shortly after it had begun. It would have cost a small fraction of what she paid in the end. I know hundreds of stories like this! Almost everyone I know who has owned a home for a while has a similar story about something that failed in their home without warning and was very expensive to repair or replace.
Now, I am not naïve enough to suggest that a proactive preventative maintenance and evaluation process will completely mitigate away any possibility of a surprise repair/replacement requirement. I am saying though is that implementing and following a process like this will significantly reduce the probability of it. And the money saved and heartache avoided make it totally worth it.
That is why I’ve launched Happy House STL. In addition to providing handyman services in response to something that needs to be upgraded, repaired or replacement, I am now offering a service that puts a technician in the home on a quarterly basis to conduct proactive, preventative evaluation, maintenance and repair. It is as simple as 1-2-3.
1. Conduct a whole home current maintenance evaluation
2. Develop a maintenance improvement/sustainment plan
3. Implement the plan – conduct preventative maintenance and repair as required to ensure the house and its mechanical systems last longer and work more efficiently.
The goal of my company is to reduce the cost a client pays to sustainably maintain their home while at the same time reduce the hassle they go through to accomplish that. For more information on why you may want to consider this for you or your loved one’s home, check out my first blog, “Why You Should Consider Proactively Maintaining Your Home.”
Also, take a look at the services page of my website to see what we do in to improve and sustain the maintenance posture of a home. Whether you use our system to either do it yourself or get someone else to do it, or if you use our service, to us it’s all the same. We are passionate about people living well in their home, and we know that when the house is healthy, that brings peace of mind and comfort.
Our main focus at Happy House STL is helping people live well in their houses, and that means keeping it simple, affordable, consistent, and easy. For those of you who, like my parents, could use some help with house maintenance, give us a call.
For all your home maintenance and repair needs.
Founder and CEO
Happy House STL
“Because a Happy House is part of a Happy Home!”