One of the best things about owning a house is you're the decision maker, so you decide which repairs to handle yourself, and when to hire a contractor. You might want to handle all your home repairs but it's wise to be realistic. You might not have the time, the tools or experience needed where contractors work on roofs and scaffolding every week. This is especially true when it comes to dealing with home exterior repairs and it's much more important, that you insure the job is done correctly and safely.
With warm weather here to stay for a while, you’ll want the exterior of your home to look its best. Your first priority should be to walk around your house and visually inspect everything from the roof to the foundation. You want to make sure that your home exterior is keeping the water out, and the conditioned air indoors.
If you see potential trouble, here are some guidelines for how to know if it’s something you should do, or if you need the skills of a home professional.
Porch and Deck Repairs
Loose floor or deck boards, dirt and grime, and even a new coat of stain or paint are home repair you can probably handle on your own. Here are problems with porches and decks, where you should consider hiring a contractor.
- Decks attached to the house with a ledger board may come loose if the foundation is settling or there's wood rot. These are structural problems you'll want a contractor to resolve.
- Replacing tongue-and-groove boards, while not dangerous, are difficult to replace the right way.
- Concrete porches can settle, leaving large cracks or crumbled areas. Filling cracks with a repair compound don’t last long, so you'll save time and money by letting a pro mend the cracks and refinish concrete.
Fixing Windows and Doors
Painting and caulking around windows and doors is a normal part of repairing your home exterior. (for tips on picking the right caulk). They need to operate easily, lock and keep your home airtight, so problems need to be addressed quickly.
If the trim or structure of any windows or doors show signs of decay, you’ll need a professional to determine whether it can be repaired or should be replaced. Cracked glass in windows might also be a job for a pro, especially if they have double- or triple-pane glass. With multi-pane windows, you can take them to a local glass store to measure, order and install the new glass. This insures one person is responsible if there's a problem with any window seals.
If your doors stick or seem to hang off balance, tightening the hinge screws might resolve the issue. But tighten the screws and the door remains crooked, your house could be settling. Don’t worry, all houses settle, and most settling isn’t critical. You will want a pro to make the necessary adjustments, as doors need to be plumb in three directions, so it's pretty tricky (get more tips on hanging doors).
Crooked windows are nearly always a sign of foundation settling, but a contractor can repair this, as well. These repairs may require removal of the door or window to adjust the shims between the door/window and the rough opening.
Siding and Roof: The Trickier Parts of Your Home Exterior
As with windows and doors, cleaning, caulk and paint for your siding are a part of normal home repair and maintenance. (Read: Home Maintenance: Spring Cleaning Your Siding). Problems that need more extensive repairs have to be done right the first time, or you risk hidden water problems growing unseen inside the walls of your home exterior.
Here are the most common home exterior problems which you should consider hiring a home professional to address.
- Any type of roof problem from shingles that blow off the roof, to water leaks.
- Siding that is damaged from excess moisture or insect damage. Vinyl siding is vulnerable in the winter when it's brittle, and we got had 2 or 3 baseball repairs every year. Brick and stone mortar can fail over time, allowing water to get behind the siding.
- Wood trim is also vulnerable to wood rot and insect damage. In New Hampshire, my handyman business often had to replace fascia boards due to woodpecker damage. It's also common to cover or wrap wood trim with aluminum coil stock, which can get ripped off your house by high winds. You'll need a contractor to replace the coil stock as the brake used to bend the aluminum costs about a thousand dollars.
Nearly every home owner needs the help of a contractor at one time or another, regardless of how handy or capable she happens to be. No one is an expert at everything.
How's the exterior of your home holding up this year? Do you have any plans for maintenance or repairs that you'd like to share? We'd love to hear about them!