Posts By: meghan fraser

6 Tips For A Seamless Home Service Pro Search

Finding the right home service pros is an important part of managing your home.

Something a lot of people don’t think about until it’s too late after moving into a new home and/or neighborhood is finding trustworthy service professionals. What makes these decisions so tough is that you often don’t know if they are worth your trust until it’s too late. If you’ve moved, or if it’s your first time tackling a new type of project, it’s time to start building a list. Whether you found this post because you’ve found yourself in need, or because you like to plan ahead, here are six tips to make sure you’re hiring pros, from plumbing and painting to lawn care and roofers, that deserve you as a client.

Define The Work You Need Done

Before you can even begin your search for a pro, take a moment to nail down as much detail as possible for your project. While sometimes your goals will be very clear, for example, if your bathroom is flooding, you know that your goal is to fix whatever issues are causing that and repair any damage. However, if you are also thinking about taking advantage of this incident to take on some remodeling of your flooded bathroom, having a vision for your remodel will help you find the right pros.

Get To Know Your Neighbors

If you haven’t already, now’s a good time to introduce yourself to your neighbors and ask around. Reach out to your coworkers if they live in the area for recommendations. If you’re unsure about reaching out to your neighbors and coworkers, there is one person that we can assure you are invested in your success as a homeowner AND is in the know about everything to do with managing your home, and that person is your real estate agent (Pro Tip: When you use the ZYYAH App, from our partner ZYYAH, you are able to access your real estate agents’ Pro List and build your own Home Team, all on one easy to use, and free, platform).

Once you have a list of recommendations and notes, take a moment to compare everything and narrow down your choices to continue vetting.

Spend Some Time On Social Media… And Don’t Forget Google

When in doubt, Google, and when you want more information, become a social media sleuth. While Google is still the standard for finding client reviews and even pictures. However, they can sometimes be skewed, and if you feel like the reviews you are looking at aren’t showing the full picture, social media platforms are a great way to fill in the gaps. From searching for nearby providers to looking through tagged posts to get a more informed view.

Review Some Of Their Finished Projects

This is especially true when researching home service pros to help with bigger projects like a remodel. Most home service professionals have portfolios of their work. Once you have your shortlist of potential home service pros for your project, ask for their portfolios and take your time. Pay attention to details, note any themes in their style, and don’t be afraid to ask questions.

Get More Than One Bid

Even if you’ve done all your research and think you’ve found ‘the one’ it’s still a good idea to get at least get three bids before you make your final decision.

Check Credentials & Ask For A Guarantee

If you haven’t already, the last thing you should do before signing anything is to check their credentials. Also, make sure they offer a guarantee or warranty for their work.

Liability & Trick-Or-Treating: Protect Yourself & Your Guests

Liability & Trick Or Treaters
Take some time now to make sure your property is ready for trick-or-treaters so you can rest easy and enjoy the smiles and costumes.

Trick-or-Treating is a fun night of costumes and candies. What you may not have considered is that as a homeowner, you do have a level of responsibility for the guests on your property (yes, trick-or-treaters are considered guests, keep reading). So, to save you some worrying we thought we’d put together some information about liability and what to consider before you turn on that porch light and start passing out those treats.

Are Trick-Or-Treaters Guests?

In short, yes. If your porch light is turned on during Trick-Or-Treating, that is considered an invitation. Which makes Trick-Or-Treaters your guests, and means you have a level of responsibility for their safety on your property. Should your porch light be turned off, that is translated as not offering an invitation, making any Trick-Or-Treater that comes onto your property a trespasser.

Premises Liability & Trick-Or-Treating

As a property owner, you have a responsibility to create a reasonable and safe environment for guests. And if a guest is injured on your property due to your inability to provide that safe environment, you may be deemed responsible. However, it’s not that clear cut, there are a couple of things that need to be a part of the incident to constitute liability; actual damages, and negligent conduct being the reason for an injury.

It could be as simple as your Halloween decorations malfunctioning and hurting a guest, or even a simple trip and fall due to uneven pavement (that you should have fixed when you used our fall checklist to prepare your house for fall and winter). Ultimately, you are responsible for providing appropriate warnings for any dangers, or hazardous areas, of your property and/or taking actions to amend any and all risks possible (like that uneven pavement we just talked about).

What About Dogs?

We love our furry friends but Halloween can be a tough night for Fido. From spooky decorations to masks and costumes, there is a lot happening that is not normal and for many dogs, their threshold for the unknown can be reached quickly, causing even a mild-mannered dog to act abnormally. As the property owner and dog owner, you are responsible for the actions of your pet. Because of that, we recommend making your pets comfortably safe in a room away from where you will be handing out treats, with some soft music, or sounds to drown out any unexpected noises, and don’t forget to provide snacks and water as well. Ultimately, for the team at ZYYAH, it is not worth the risk of what could go wrong if your pet is startled.

Can Tricks Cause Problems?

Halloween means TRICKS and treats. If you love to set the mood on your property with scary decorations and lighting there are a few things to keep in mind. Firstly be aware of the area around where you plan on scaring the guests on your property. For example, don’t set up a ‘jump scare’ (find an example of a classic candy bowl jump scare at the 13:45 mark) at the top of steps, should your guest fall backward down the steps when. Secondly, be aware of the materials and/or props used to scare your guests. Avoid anything that is sharp, hard, or could generally cause harm. Finally, it’s spooky season, so don’t be afraid to have some fun, just make sure that you are aware of how your trick will be experienced by someone that is not familiar with your property.

Some Things To Think Of Before Trick-Or-Treating

  • Are there any cracks or uneven pavement or steps that I need to address?
  • Is my property lit well enough to navigate easily?
  • Are my walkways clear of debris?
  • Is there anything on my lawn, the garden or near my walkways that could harm my guests?
  • If I scaring Trick-Or-Treaters is the area safe and is my ‘scare plan’ reasonable?
  • Remember that Trick-Or-Treaters are not familiar with your property, it is worth walking through your property with that in mind to identify and potential issues.

Taking a few extra minutes in your preparation to ensure that your guests are safe and that you can enjoy handing out treats without any concerns. Leaving you to raid your candy bowl, or your child’s loot, with some peace of mind.

Build Your Own DIY Home Emergency Kit – Hello Covered DIY

DIY Emergency Kit
Building your own emergency kit allows you to customize your kit and provides some peace of mind and support when you need it most.

Building your own emergency kit can give you some peace of mind and support when you need it most.

From wildfires and hurricanes to an event that forces you to shelter in place or unexpected loss of access to water and/or food, the events that could lead you to need your own emergency kit are often dependent on where your home is located. While you hope you never need it, the term ‘better to have and not need, than need and not have’ comes to mind.

Why A DIY Emergency Kit?

While there are great emergency kits that you can purchase online, your needs, in the case of an emergency, vary from where you live to who you need to consider in your planning. Simply put, no two people/families will have the same needs. Taking the DIY approach to building an emergency kit will allow you to customize your emergency kit to your specific needs.

What Do I Even Pack My Emergency Kit In?

The best option for packing your emergency kit will be a bag or bin, that is waterproof and can be transported. Some easily accessible options are dry bags and even 5-gallon buckets.

Am I Now A Doomsday Prepper?

For now, no, this guide is not for those looking to assemble a kit that will allow you to survive and thrive after a catastrophic event. Our guide is for those looking to have an emergency kit that will get them through a few days, should they need to wait for services to be restored, or if there is a need to travel to an unaffected area without warning. So, if you are looking for ways to prepare for a ‘basic’ emergency, read on for our basic list and other things to include in your DIY Emergency Kit.

Basic Emergency Kit

  1. Water and/or a water filter: Red Cross recommends one gallon per day, per person
  2. Non-perishable, easy to prepare, food
  3. Flashlight
  4. Extra Batteries
  5. Well-stocked first aid or trauma kit such as the ones offered by MyMedic
  6. A week’s supply of any medications and medical items (hearing aids with extra batteries, glasses, contact lenses, syringes, extra glasses, etc)
  7. Multi-purpose tool and/or basic tools
  8. Sanitation and personal hygiene items
  9. Copies of important documents (medication list and pertinent medical information, proof of address, deed/lease to home, passports, birth certificates, insurance policies)
  10. Solar cell phone charger
  11. Family and other emergency contact information
  12. Extra money
  13. Emergency blanket: One for each person
  14. Matches, Lighter, or other fire starters
  15. Maps of the area

Additional Things to Consider

  • A battery-powered or hand-crank radio
  • Baby supplies (bottles, formula, baby food, diapers)
  • Games and activities for children
  • Pet supplies (collar, leash, ID, food, carrier, bowl)
  • Two-way radios
  • Extra set of car keys and house keys
  • Manual can opener
  • Whistle
  • N95 or surgical masks
  • Matches
  • Rain gear
  • Towels
  • Work gloves
  • Tools/supplies for securing your home
  • Extra clothing, hat, and sturdy shoes
  • Plastic sheeting
  • Duct tape
  • Scissors
  • Household liquid bleach
  • Alcohol (No, not for drinking but rather for disinfectant and first aid use)
  • Entertainment items
  • Blankets or sleeping bags

Once your kit is assembled, store it someplace safe but easily accessible within your home and check it annually to ensure food and water have not expired (yes, water can expire). Now, you can rest easy, knowing that your home is a little more prepared should something unexpected happen.

Prepare Your Home For Winter With Our Fall Checklist

Autumn Home
Take care of your home and prepare it for winter with our Fall Checklist.

Now’s the time to prepare your home for the colder months to come. We know it can be daunting to track every task you need to tackle, we’ve put together our fall checklist to help you get organized, so you can get it done. So, before you pull out the holiday lights and warm up some hot chocolate, spend some time ensuring that your home is protected for the changing season. It may even help prevent catastrophes, and possibly even save you some $$$.

Indoor Fall Checklist:

1. Prepare Your Furnace For Winter

Consider getting your furnace professionally serviced and ready for the colder months now. If you aren’t planning on having a professional come inspect your furnace, make a point of visually inspecting your furnace and replacing the furnace filter.

Here are some signs that it’s time to call a professional:

  • Your Home Just Isn’t Heating Up: If your furnace doesn’t seem to work as well as it has in the past that could be a sign of various problems.
  • Your Furnace Is Noisy: Unusual sounds such as screeches or whines could be a signal that belts connected to the blower motor are worn or damaged.
  • Erratic Behavior: This could be caused by a faulty thermostat or a misadjusted furnace but only a professional can identify the root of the problem.

2. Clean The Fireplace & Chimney

Before your first fire make sure your fireplace is safe and ready to be used. Take some time to clean out and inspect your fireplace and wood fire stove.

Inspect the flue for creosote, a flammable by-product of burning wood. Accumulation of too much creosote in a flue or chimney can result in a devastating fire. Get your chimney inspected annually (or more, depending on use) for creosote buildup to ensure your health and safety.

Finally, check your chimney for damage or flue blockages. Ensure the flue cap (the screen or baffle covering the top of the chimney) is in place. These are popular places for animals, such as birds, to take up residence and better to find out now. If you have a brick chimney, break out your binoculars and inspect your chimney for loose or broken joints.

And remember, when in doubt, call a professional to come to inspect and sweep your chimney.

3. Keep The Warm Air Inside & The Cold Air Outside

Sealing up a drafty house can save up to 20% on your heating bills, according to the U.S. Department of Energy.

You can inspect your windows for drafts by lighting a stick of incense or candle and holding it up to your closed windows, if the smoke or flame ‘moves’, you have a draft. If you do discover a draft, seal any gaps with caulk and if replacing the caulk does not solve the problem, it may be time to consider replacing your windows.

If your windows are not as insulated as you would like and replacing them is not an option, now would be a great time to purchase and install plastic film window insulating kits.

Weatherstripping is an easy and cost-effective way to cut reducing drafts. You can check the weatherstripping by opening a door, placing a piece of paper in the entryway, and closing the door. The paper should not slide back and forth easily. If it does, the weatherstripping isn’t doing its job.

4. Avoid Gas Problems

If you utilize a gas heater, fall is the right time to have a professional check your gas heaters. Not keeping them in shape will not only cost you extra cash to run, but it could also cost you your health by emitting toxic gases into your home. To help keep it running in between professional services, you will want to check the air-shutter openings and exhaust vents for dust and dirt. Give the air passages to the burner a vacuum and clean the burner. Finally, follow any other advice the manufacturer offers.

5. Review Your Home’s Safety

It’s time to perform a complete review of your home’s safety features and go over any emergency plans such as your fire evacuation plan.

Some things to check:

  • Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
  • Fire extinguishers
  • Clean up any fire risks such as dry leaves
  • Review the storage of fire risks, hazardous materials, and any poisons

6. Clean and Reverse Ceiling Fan Blades

To be honest, when’s the last time you even looked at the blades of your ceiling fans? Ceiling fans get pretty dirty. To clean them, use an extension pole and duster to clean them off. Then, push the switch on the side of the motor housing to reverse their direction, causing the blades to rotate clockwise, pulling warm air down from the ceiling.

7. Give Your AC Unit A Rinse

Just like your ceiling fans, a summer of heavy-duty usage has your AC unit looking a bit rough around the edges. Get rid of the dirt, pollen, dust, and who knows what else by spending a few minutes rinsing it off and preparing it for next summer.

Outdoor Fall Checklist:

1. Fix Any Flaws In Your Driveway and Foot Paths

If you haven’t already, this is your last chance to repair any driveway and sidewalk cracks before the temperatures drop. We recommend taking some time to check your driveway and/or footpaths for any cracks, disintegration, or washed-out materials. You can likely handle most cracks or smaller jobs with some DIY motivation. And if you’re thinking those small cracks aren’t worth the trouble, we’d like to remind you that when water freezes in a small crack it will expand, expanding the crack as well.

2. Inspect your roof.

What was the one fear you had when you bought your first home? We’re guessing roof problems come to mind. Then add winter into the mix and it’s truly a nightmare. With that in mind, now’s the time to inspect your roof in as much detail as possible. Look for damage in metal flashing, scan for missing or damaged shingles, thinning coatings, and any other damage or wear and tear that could make winter worse.

3. Clean, Inspect & Possibly Replace Your Gutters

When’s the last time you even thought about your gutters? It’s ok, most people don’t think about their gutters until they have. Clogged gutters can lead to damaged exterior surfaces, water in your basement, foundation issues, and are more prone to rust and corrosion. Take some time to give your gutters a look over, clean them, install gutter guards, and if necessary, have them replaced.

4. Touch up exterior paint

Touching up your exterior paint can prolong the life of your siding and trim by protecting you from the elements. The key is to get this to-do done before the temperature drops below 50 degrees when most paints are no longer suitable.

5. Clean Outdoor Furniture & Tools

If you have a fire pit, you may not be putting your outdoor furniture away for the season just yet but you’ll want to get everything cleaned before you turn off your outdoor plumbing. Saving you some time when you do store them away for winter.

6. Wash Your Windows and Inspect Screens

Over the spring and summer, your screens have been through a lot and have built up some grossness. You could save this for spring, or you could save the trouble and tackle your screens now. All you need is a bucket, a squeegee, a streak-free cleaner for the windows, and some elbow grease. This is also a good opportunity to check your screens for damage and repair them if you live in an area that gets hail.

7. Prep Your Lawn For Winter & Plant Your Spring Flower Bulbs

If you want to have a green lawn and lush garden come early spring, you’ll have to put some work in now.

Raking leaves and aerating soil will prevent your lawn and garden beds from suffocating under snow. While applying mulch and fertilizer now will nourish your plants’ roots and help protect your plants from winter damage.

8. Start Composting, Your Garden Will Thank You

If you don’t already have compost bins, now’s the time to make or get some.

9. Clean Your Storage Areas, Shed, & Garage

Clean your storage areas, such as your garage, basement, attics, and shed so they are organized and ready for the season. While you don’t have to leave them sparkling, a general clean and look over will help make sure you won’t have any ‘house guests’ for the winter, have room for your outdoor furniture storage, and that you can get to any seasonal decorations (because you will not want to be digging in your shed, outside, in December).

10. Test Your Winter Equipment

Save some trouble come the first snowfall and make sure any winter equipment, like your snowblower, is working properly.

11. Store Your Outdoor Furniture

Store your outdoor furniture, inflatable pools, trampolines, and other larger outdoor items before it’s too late in the season, or invest in some decent waterproof covers if you are not able to store them.

12. Stock Up & Store Your Firewood

It’s time to stock up and store your firewood for the winter. Demand will surely rise as the temperature drops, so stocking up now to save some time and stress.

13. Turn Off Your Outdoor Plumbing

Take a few moments to drain and disconnect all garden hoses from outside spigots and sprinkler systems to prevent freezing. Not doing this can result in pipes bursting. Which is a preventable nightmare.

Now that you’re armed with our fall checklist, it’s time to get to work and while you’re taking care of your home, it’s worth taking a moment to review your coverage and make any changes you may need to make.

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