There’s just no way to sugarcoat it: these are challenging times. With schools and nonessential businesses in Massachusetts currently closed, and every trip to the grocery store a near-white-knuckle experience, things in the commonwealth – and across the globe – are far from routine. Yet spring has sprung and summer will happen, which means it’s time to begin tackling seasonal maintenance at your home.
Things You Might Tackle Yourself
If you live on the Cape year-round, or have opened up your Cape house early this year, opting to DIY some the projects on your to-do list may be beneficial. The CDC suggests that, as long as social distancing protocols are followed, exercise and getting outside can have a positive impact on one’s emotional wellbeing during a stressful time.
The first thing to do is inspect your home. Walk around the entire house looking for damaged shingles and siding, and torn screens. Inspect the driveway for potential frost damage, and the deck for any signs of early rot. Then expand your search to your entire property. Are any outbuildings in need of repair? Is the sprinkler system functioning properly? Is it time to have your pool serviced and opened? Take notes while doing the inspection, and then decide what might be DIY-able.
If you haven’t washed your windows all winter, they are probably in need of a good cleaning. Unless a ladder is required to reach second-story windows, cleaning your windows on a sunny day is a great opportunity to spend some productive time outside. It’s also a fairly physical job. Hello, good night’s sleep. Depending on the height of your home, and your comfort level on a ladder, cleaning gutters may be another chore you to choose to tackle on your own.
Even if you had a professional landscaper do a thorough clean-up last fall, you will need to do a spring cleaning in the yard. Unless there is major tree work or pruning that needs to be done, this is another task that is easily DIY-ed. Grab a rake and good pair of pruning shears and have at it. When pruning flowering shrubs, be mindful of what to prune when. Some plants, such as lilac and forsythia, need to be pruned just after they’ve bloomed. A quick Google search will answer your questions.
A more ambitious DIY-er might opt to replace rotted wood on the deck or exterior thresholds, and repair torn screens. If you’re confident in your tool skills, go for it. If you have perfectionist tendencies, these might be best left to the pros.
Leave It to the Pros
Even avid fans of This Old House and skilled DIY-ers understand that there are some household projects that should be handled by the pros. As of this writing, construction contractors and landscape contractors in Massachusetts are allowed to continue working. With spring such a busy season for contractors on the Cape, most have full crews putting in a full workday (and then some), and Silvia & Silvia is no exception. And like most contractors, we have put in place expanded measures to keep our customers and our teams safe.
Because of the potential to turn a minor issue into a major problem, replacing roofing shingles should always be handled by a licensed professional. Start pulling away torn or displaced shingles yourself, and you might be opening the proverbial can of worms.
Another spring task that should be left in the hands of the pros is opening your swimming pool. Yes, you might be able to get your pool looking fairly clean by yourself, but without understanding the chemistry that goes into opening a pool, and without attending to any mechanical issues with the filtration system, you may well end up with a cloudy pool that no one wants to swim in come summer.
When it comes to landscape construction and maintenance, let the pros handle the big jobs. Pruning, raking and adding new plantings is one thing; removing large trees, repairing irrigation systems, and hardscaping work is quite another. Removing a large tree is about far more than knowing how to use a chainsaw. It is dangerous work. Do it yourself and you risk physical harm and damaging nearby structures or wires. And building a terrace or retaining wall is about far more than arranging stones. Without a solid foundation built to exacting standards, any hardscaping project will be unstable and subject to warping, bowing and crumbling.
Finally, your home’s systems should be checked and cleaned. Heating and air conditioning should be checked every spring and winter. A licensed HVAC contractor will know what to look for, and how to clean the systems and make any needed repairs. If your home has one, now is also the time to have the alarm system checked. The same is true of any smart home technology and extensive AV systems.
Ensuring that everything at your home is in working order by the time summer arrives means you and your family can savor every second of the season. And after this spring, you deserve it.