Property Maintenance 101
Sounds like a lot to cover, right? It definitely is, however with a little guidance and the right tools it takes less effort every year to maintain your biggest investment, your property. Today I'm going to walk you through three broad topics, and bring a bit of detail of what we do to have the best outcome with those three topics, they are: Why bother? What to do? and Am I being ripped off? Without further delay, lets start at the start Why Bother? Well, the biggest reason to bother with property maintenance services is it greatly reduces the need for repair, keeping up to date with cleaning and small repairs like broken sealants, and overflowing gutters, and a mossy roof greatly reduces the severity and frequency of necessary repair items like replacing your shingles, broken downspouts, failed windows, and rotting wood. It seems counter intuitive right? using water and chemicals to clean that will just push water in right? Wrong! Using safe low pressure cleaning methods, with safe mixtures of chemicals and a little know how means that moss, mold, algae, and other home pests and contaminants won't be breaking down your siding, soffit, and window trims any time soon, same with that mossy roof, when moss grows rampant it damages all kinds of roofing by getting underneath shingles, eating away asphalt and cedar, and damaging torch on with its roots. Same with window sealants, go look close at the edges of your windows there's a very thin, coloured, plastic looking trim between the glass and the actual window trim, that's a type of caulking that keeps water out, and climate controlled air in. Reason 2 as to "Why Bother" is it can improve the value and appearance of your home! Thinking of selling? Even if you're not, of course you want it to be worth as much as possible just in case you need / decide to sell, and like with anything would you spend more on the used item that looked "Like New" or the used item that looked, we'll call it "Well Loved" I think we both know the answer. A good looking property is just plain old worth more, it shows off that it's been cared for and maintained and there's likely no hidden skeletons like mould or a rotting roof. If you keep up with property maintenance KEEP YOUR RECEIPTS even if you do the work yourself, you'll of used some chemicals, you'll have some tools for it, keep a record of what you did, when you did it, and the receipts for the products you used or the professionals receipts who performed the work, show them to your realtor a well maintained property with documentation is a great negotiating tool. What To Do?
Well, this has a couple answers but for the purposes of this, I'll give the most thorough answer and then you should adjust based on your budget. Some of these things, I will recommend a professional for as they can just be plain dangerous, but others you should feel free to do yourself if money is tight. Keep It Clean, is the big number 1, and the "must do" items are cleaning your roof, and cleaning your drainage. Really everything else is optional but highly suggested cleaning wise. I HIGHLY recommend having a pro do your roof and gutters, getting up on a ladder is just unsafe and the chemicals for your roof can be dangerous when inhaled. Clean your roof MAX every 2 years, but preferably annually. Clean your gutters every 6 months or more if you notice buildup or poor drainage. Most of our customers have stone and or concrete, and glass, which we clean but with some practice and some decent tools you can do it yourself. Depending on the stone, some people have us come pressure wash twice a year, but most do it once a year in the spring before they move out on to their patios for the summer. (Pro tip, if you plan to DIY this, have a pro come clean it and seal it the first year it will make cleaning much easier for you to do in the subsequent years) As for glass, we use a de-ionized water (often called Pure Water) pole system for exterior glass, and usually have a annual contract where we come clean all the exterior glass 4X a year. The Pure Water systems can be found relatively inexpensive, and a cheap one will do if you're only doing your own property a couple times a year but the professional systems are expensive but do work better. As for the inside of the glass, most of our customers get us to come in and do a full deep clean about once a year and then they touch it up on their own throughout the year. House Washing, this one again we recommend a professional do this for you, mostly due to the chemicals and the cost of the equipment. We use a Soft Wash system to dispense a proprietary chemical mix that is landscape and pet safe for washing soffit and siding. Pressure washing should NEVER be used for cleaning siding and soffit (unless the house is stone or concrete but that is rather technical as to "why") due to the high pressure water being more likely to force itself between building materials, and damage the rain screen behind your siding or force large amounts of water up into your soffit and attic space. Your house will look great after a soft wash, but the equipment can be expensive, please please please don't just go and pressure wash anyways it doesn't work the same way, and the damage can be extremely expensive to fix. Call a pro, have it done once a year or every second year, you'll love the results.
Am I being ripped off?
For the most part? probably not, if you're not happy with the work a professional did call them back, tell them to fix it, if they're not happy to oblige and own their mistakes then yeah, you're probably being ripped off. Now, that's not to say that some things just aren't cleanable, some things aren't able to be cleaned, stains can be too deep to pull, some things are just rotten or broken, most professional cleaners will be up front about this with you though.
The BIG be wary of people selling snake oil is sealers and coatings. Ask what sealers and or coatings a provider uses are, if they aren't faking it or using the big orange stores products they'll be happy to tell you which products they use, and why they choose them. Do a little research, see if their products are well reviewed and or popular choices amongst other professionals. As for us, stone and concrete gets sealed with Stain Proof (formerly Dry Treat) sealers, including for our proprietary West Coast Limestone Protection. The big takeaway is transparency, a good cleaner will be up front about issues and repairs needed, and will fix their mistakes, and a good coating and sealing company will be open about which products they use.
Hope this answered a couple of your questions, check out the other blog entries for more in detail explanations on things like Sealers 101 and What is Soft Washing?