Is your house ready for the coming winter?  If not, NOW is the time to get things in place, and here is a short checklist of 6 priorities for your house.

Priorities1Anticipate Ice Dams

Ice dams are number one on the list. I’m sure everyone who had water coming into their house last winter is now an expert on why that happened.  Briefly, it’s not the ice that is the problem; snow on your roof ideally should melt from the sun.  When this is happening and then the temperature drops, ice forms on top of the snow – heavy & crusty but usually not damaging.

Unfortunately, in most cases where serious damage occurs the snow is melting due to heat loss from your house.  When this happens and the temperature drops, ice forms beneath the snow and can really start to damage your roof and everything below it.

Don’t let this happen!  The solution – better insulation – is the single best answer to avoiding ice dams. If your attic is accessible, insulating the roof rafters with spray foam is a permanent solution to your problems.  And by-the-way, your fuel savings from a tighter house will absolutely pay for the insulation.


In addition to better insulation, make sure your gutters are clean.  Snow melt needs someplace to go, and if your gutters aren’t clean & functional the chances snow melt will back-up, freeze, and cause damage increase dramatically.

Ice-Melt Wires

Do you need ice melt wires on your roof? If so, don’t wait until the snow flies.

Roof Shoveling

Remember the horror you felt last winter when it occurred to you that a 747 weighed less than the snow on your roof?  Word to the wise – line up someone to shovel snow off your roof NOW.  Don’t wait until it’s panic time and set yourself up to be gouged.

Priorities3Snow Removal Equipment

Don’t wake-up to a snowy morning before you start thinking about this.  Here’s the list:

  • Is your snow & ice removal equipment (shovels, sand, etc.) in good shape?
  • Is your snow blower tuned-up, gassed-up and ready to go?
  • Is your driveway plow company lined up?


If you have a back-up generator, is it charged-up and gassed-up?  And if you don’t have a back-up generator, it’s time to give one some thought.  You really do need to prepare for loss of power due to winter storms.  We’re not talking about the lights flickering, we’re talking about a serious, sustained power loss…like many folks experienced last (and every) winter.

Loss of power in the winter is more than just an inconvenience. It impacts the basics of your life: it results in no heat, loss of Priorities4refrigeration, loss of critical home protections like sump pumps, and loss of outside contact through internet access as desktops, routers, and, eventually, laptops, tablets, and phones lose their battery power.  In other words, it’s dangerous and potentially life-threatening.

NOW is the time to consider a generator – not when the big box stores are “Sold Out”.   Generators come in all shapes and sizes from small portable units that will help you out in a pinch to stationary units that will power almost everything in your house. A generator is a great investment that will pay for itself many times over, I know from experience.

Bottom Line

My point is simple – your house needs your help in the winter.  Think ahead, plan for the worst, and I guarantee it will pay dividends.  And if you need planning and preparation assistance, seek out a professional NOW – not after you receive the storm damage repair estimate from your insurance company!

Be ready for winter, not devastated by it!

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Thinking about your next home improvement project?  Maybe it’s a new kitchen or master bathroom, maybe a family room addition, or maybe even adding that second story to your home.  Whether it’s a small job or a big project, the same general principles apply.


After last winter, I’m sure the thought of disrupting your family this coming winter is not appealing. However, if you’ve got a project in mind for next Spring you need to start planning for it NOW!

Your first task it to think through the construction process and, trust me, this is not a TV show, this is your home and your family.  Minimizing disruption to your lives & routines is critical, and good planning is the first step in a successful project.

  • Get a feel for what to expect. Good project planning starts with a thorough assessment of the project itself.  In other words, starting at Point A (today) what has to happen to get to Point B (a successful project)?
  • Size. Is it a smaller project that will be done quickly or a large-scale undertaking that’s going to take time?
  • In or Out. Does it involve exterior work, interior work, or both?
  • Sprawl. Will it impact the use of other rooms/areas in your home?

Good planning will reduce your angst and uncertainties at the outset of the project, and will minimize the potential frustrations and surprises you encounter along the way.

Building The Project Team

Construction team on siteThe second step in a successful project is building a team to do the work.  This obviously is going to be dependent on the size and complexity of the project, but generally falls into two categories – small job, big project.

Small Job

If your project is just painting or carpentry repairs, or maybe replacing that gutter that the ice brought down last winter, then your best bet is to hire individual contractors, hopefully recommended by a friend.  The key member of the Project Team is you, the Homeowner, and, in this instance, project & budget manager.

Big Project

The Project Team on larger-scale projects most often consists of three members: the General Contractor, the Architect, and the Homeowner (you).

Do you need a General Contractor?  If multiple contractors are required on your project (electricians, carpenters, plumbers, et al) you need a general contractor to coordinate the schedules & work of these subcontractors.  In a nutshell: Do you really want to leave work to let in the plumber who hopefully won’t install his pipes in the electrician’s way?

Do you need an Architect?  If you are changing the footprint of the house or adding a second story or doing structural work of any sort, an architect’s stamp will be required in order to secure a building permit.

Teamwork & Communications

I’m sure you have heard stories from friends about a contractor that didn’t deliver or an architect that designed a Taj Mahal that was completely inappropriate for the budget available.  All of this is avoidable.Collection-New-Trend-Modern-Family-Room

The Project Team – the Homeowner, Architect, and General Contractor – need to work together at the outset – and throughout the project – to ensure a final product that is exactly what you want and within your budget.

The keys to a successful project are planning, teamwork, and communication.  Like I said, this isn’t a TV show, it’s your home and your family so put in the time and attention required to make it a success!

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