Take a few minutes to walk around the outside of your house and really look it over. Bring your binoculars and a notepad and pencil with you, too. I’ll tell you why later.
The wind and cold have really given our homes a beating this winter, and we may have damage that wasn’t there in the fall. Small problems are much easier and less expensive to fix now than if they are ignored and allowed to grow into major projects.
Beginning with the foundation, work your way up the walls. Look for cracks or loose mortar. Now is a good time to inspect and open vents to provide more ventilation to crawl spaces during the coming hot months. Check your exterior faucets for leaks. Also, check caulked areas for loose or missing caulk. Note everything that needs repair on your pad.
To check a wood exterior, push against it gently with the eraser of the pencil at regular intervals to test for rot, noting any repairs that need to be made. Look at the paint or stain. Is it cracked and peeling or faded? Safeguarding wood cannot be ignored or rot will set in quickly in our moist and humid climate. Plus, exposed wood attracts pests, such as carpenter bees and termites.
On all wood surfaces, look for holes or tunnels built along the side. Either could indicate the presence of termites. In the South, termites are everywhere, so it’s only a matter of time before they find your house. They can do lots of damage quickly, so vigilance is advised.
If you have vinyl siding, check it for mold and mildew. The best way to keep vinyl looking good is to pressure wash it regularly to remove the mold and mildew before it has time to permanently discolor the siding.
Now, look at the windows. Note any damage to screens or cracks in windows. Check the caulk to see if it is in good shape.
Move on to porches and decks. Give the handrails a good shake to make sure they are still holding well. Check the wood on all railing, porch and deck supporting posts for rot or termite damage.
Next, look up at the overhangs. Check for damage based on the materials used to construct them.
In addition, look for small stinging insect nests. As the weather warms, wasps and bees will aggressively build nests on building overhangs. For some reason, they seem to have an affinity for vinyl and light fixtures with openings in the bottom. Take care of them early to prevent having to deal with a large, potentially dangerous nest later.
Another item to be on the lookout for is bird nests. Birds often nest on top of columns and light fixtures. They will also nest in hanging plants and door wreaths. They won’t be there for a long time, but until their fledglings leave the nest, they will swoop and dive at people as they enter and leave the home. The most humane way to deal with them is to allow them to remain until they raise their young. Then, remove the nest and place a deterrent where the nest was to prevent future nests because many birds return to the same nesting area every year.
If your home has gutters, check them to see if they need cleaning. A clogged gutter can cause water to back up under shingles and spill over onto wooded areas or plants, causing damage.
Now, it’s time to get out the binoculars. Walk out from the edges of your house until you can see your roof. Use the binoculars to inspect for missing or damaged shingles. Discolored shingles often benefit from a good pressure washing, as well.
Once you have completed your inspection, look at your notes. Prioritize the items to be repaired. Consider which ones you can do yourself. If there are big jobs that need attention, you may want to hire a contractor. Ask neighbors and friends to recommend contractors for the types of repairs you need done. You can also check websites like Angie’s List. Some sites may charge a small fee, but finding a dependable contractor is worth it.