By Piper Kerrigan
The duties of a homeowner are simple and easy to remember: pay the bills on time, keep the floors swept, fix any broken windows, maybe even mow the lawn every now and again.
However, if you’re not actually just a college-aged bachelor trying to make ends meet, your list of responsibilities doubles: patch the hole in the drywall where it was rammed with a skateboard, turn off the WiFi after midnight so everyone will actually go to bed, make sure the pipes don’t freeze in the winter, fill the car with gas, lock the doors after everyone’s settled down for the night… all of this on top of the previously mentioned bills, floors, windows, and lawn.
Trying to remember all of these small things would be impossible, not to mention exhausting, especially if you’re also working hard to balance a marriage, family, work, and time with friends. Therefore, the easiest solution is simply to fix the problems once, and never have to think about them again– in an ideal world, that is. But the promise of having even a few daily burdens already taken care off surely lightens the weight on your back.
In this article, we’ll explore a few of the most common, and some uncommon, dilemmas of being a homeowner, and methods of solving them.
Avoiding the appearance of an easy target
According to an FBI Crime Report in 2012, 1 in every 36 homes is burglarized annually, and 30% of those burglars will enter through an unlocked door or window. Naturally, there is a simple solution to this: lock your doors and windows, and check them regularly.
But considering there’s another 70% of home intruders who gain access without needing an easy way in, what else can be done to avoid becoming a statistic? Midlands Lock & Key lays out 7 simple (+1 bonus!) ways of deterring the people who contribute to this frightening percentage.
1. Sturdy locks – deadbolts in particular, are less vulnerable to a physical forced-entry.
2. Dogs – are an incredible deterrent, whether they are a barker or a biter.
3. Warning Signs – particularly those that warn of a dog inside who might, in fact, be a biter.
4. Motion-Activated Lights – as burglars prefer to work under the cover of darkness. The second a spotlight is shone on them, they have a tendency to flee with their tail between their legs.
5. Timed Indoor Lights – perfect for those who are not home as often as they’d like to be, and want to give the illusion of activity inside.
6. WiFi Capable Surveillance Cameras – allow you to view your home and property while away at work, or even on vacation.
7. Opening Up Your Yard – such as grooming your shrubs and other foliage to cut down on places a person is easily able to hide.
Kids have no problem jumping on the bed, but struggle elsewhere
How many people consider the frustrations of a child, namely a young toddler, having to climb in and out of a large vehicle? Particularly those whose foot-holds are are only as high as their waist? Not only are these munchkins prone to getting their feet caught in the bars, but it’s also possible to lose balance and hit their head, possibly resulting in a scary and unnecessary concussion. Not to mention, should you have to take your little one to the hospital, neither home nor auto insurance will cover the costs. (I talk a little more about insurance and injury claims a little later!)
Instead of lifting your child into the cab every time they tag along for a ride, or carrying a stool everywhere you go (even to the grocery store!) consider instead installing sliders on your oversized vehicle. They bolt easily onto the foot railing, and remain locked in place for the life of the car or truck. And then, once your child has grown out his or her legs, they’re easy to remove again. Imagine them like training wheels for the vertically-challenged.
Along with the car, what other high-up places are they likely to climb? Counters, couches, the aforementioned bed while you’re still trying to sleep until your alarm (after they’ve already managed to boulder their way out of their crib).
So how do you stop a climber from, well, climbing? Verywell.com offers a myriad of good ideas, focusing mostly on using discipline techniques as well as channeling your jitterbug’s energy into something more productive and safe.
Calm before the storm, and why it’s easier to prepare early
While your home might not be located anywhere need a hurricane’s favorite seasonal getaway, it’s smart to prepare for something equally as disastrous. Should it be snow, or rain, or wind, a storm can have dramatically adverse effects on a city’s power grid.
Assuming your city’s power isn’t at stake, and instead you’re left to fend for yourself, there are a multitude of things you can do, just in case.
For example, an LED bulb is manufactured differently than the standard bulbs you find in older homes, and have been found to even withstand torrential weather better than their predecessors. Should a storm-of-the-century type situation strike, you’ll feel more comfortable knowing you’ve invested time and energy (technically even less energy, as LEDs consume 25-80% less energy than incandescent lights!) in keeping your home illuminated and free of flashlights and huddles around a candle. (With that in mind, it’s also wise to keep flashlights, fresh batteries, candles, and blankets handy, just in case!)
I would suggest taking the time to also explore other important ideas when it comes to storm proofing your home, such as having a generator handy and tying down your lawn gnomes.
Emergency preparedness, and keeping a family all on the same page
Should an accident happen, does your family know what the proceeding steps are?
Consider for a moment: a fire breaks out in the middle of the night, and you are unable to reach other family members before the flames and smoke spread. Assuming you can’t tell them what to do and where to go in the moment, it’s important that everyone living under the same roof has a practiced fire-evacuation plan memorized, particularly children who may otherwise be too in shock or inexperienced to make informed decisions.
The next step would be teaching your children about the importance and purpose of calling 911, and in what situations it’s necessary. For example, should one of their parents or siblings hurt themselves, they should not be afraid to call a police officer for help (even if the injury is not life-threatening or in need of immediate medical care.) In the frightening hypothetical of burglary as we discussed in my first point as well, children should know when it’s critical to call the police over one of their parents. 911 should be taught respect, of course, but little ones should not be afraid of using it.
Should an emergency occur, and should a member of your family be injured (imagine one of your toddlers took a tumble from your SUV, for example) it’s important to talk to the right people about the following steps to take. Particularly if you plan to file an insurance claim, make sure you are familiar with the necessary actions in order to ensure you receive your full benefits. (This part of the household emergency procedures can probably be left up to the adults, as I’m not 100% confident a child would know what a “claimant” even is!)
Responsibilities exist for a homeowner at any level
Whether you are only the tenant of a one-bedroom apartment, in the process of renting your first house, or have paid off the mortgage of the home you wish to grow old in, duties come and go as family, friends, and society change around you.
As it’s important to continually provide upkeep on your car so that it will function at its peak for the length of its life, the same goes for upkeep on your house. It’s not only paying the bills and wiping down the counters, the realm of homeownership extends far beyond that. And while it would be impossible to list and discuss every little aspect wrapped up in that world, hopefully this article has you thinking about a few things you might’ve overlooked, or even inspired others you hadn’t previously considered.
Piper Kerrigan is a baker, party planner, and DIY extraordinaire from the Pacific Northwest. The only thing she loves more than a glass of good wine is snuggling her cat, Sebastian.