Home Guru

A Common-Sense Approach to Prioritizing Your Home Tasks

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By Bill Primavera

In the corner of our bedroom on the floor is a beautifully framed portrait of my wife in her wedding veil. Considering that my “handle” is The Home Guru, I would be embarrassed to share with you how long it’s been sitting there, waiting for me to perform the simple task of hanging it by hammering a nail in the wall. (I would always recommend the alternative of a picture hook.)

Thank God, I have reached a stage in life and lifestyle where I don’t have to worry much about getting tasks done. I live in a wonderful situation: a condo where all tasks outside my door are performed by other people. All I have to worry about is keeping some sense of order with the tasks that need to be done within my four walls.

However, that was not always the case. My former home was a big single-family home, old enough to be called historic, that needed gobs of upkeep, and that required some sort of prioritization.

For help, I turned to my wife, Margaret, who is one of the great organizers, not to mention an inveterate list maker, to help me sort out my chores in an orderly way.

The trick, according to Margaret, was to make a plan. We sat down and developed a ranking system for chores as follows: 1) urgent; 2) potentially urgent; 3) necessary; 4) recommended; and 5) just forget about it.

That made it easier to determine which chore to get done and which to let go. Here is that ranking:

  1. Urgent. If you find that your electric panel is suddenly shooting sparks, prioritizing this task is a no-brainer; the very existence of your home is in danger.
  2. Potentially Urgent. Pay attention to ceiling stains, musty odor or underfoot dampness of a water leak. Whether it stems from rain coming through a hole in the roof, a crack in your house foundation or a plumbing problem, a leak will never go away just because you choose to ignore it. Instead, it will get worse – sometimes frighteningly fast – causing water damage that may threaten the structure of your house. Track down the source of the leak if you can and have it repaired promptly. In my former home, we moved in and the roof leaked with the first rainstorm.
    Another potentially urgent problem is trees that are dead, diseased or simply located too close to your house. One good windstorm and trees in that condition can seriously damage your house. Before that happens, get them properly pruned or removed. How well I remember that thunderous thud in the middle of the night when a towering pine had fallen just a few feet from the house.
  1. Necessary. There are a number of one-time home maintenance tasks that are important, though not immediately urgent. For instance, you probably own more electronic devices now than your grandparents ever had. If your house was built back in their day, chances are that your electrical panel is overtaxed and an electrical upgrade is in order.
  2. Recommended. To paint or not to paint? Examples of the many home improvements which are not absolutely essential but certainly recommended might include minor gardening to increase curb appeal or installing child-height hooks to encourage kids to keep their clothes tidy.
  3. Just Forget About it. This is an extremely flexible category, depending on you and your lifestyle. Toss into it all the tasks that aren’t illegal, unsafe or positively dangerous to your family’s health or happiness. Then feel free to forget about them for now, maybe forever. I find that, as I get older, this list grows by the day.

Bill Primavera is a realtor associated with William Raveis Real Estate and founder of Primavera Public Relations, Inc. (www.PrimaveraPR.com). To engage the services of The Home Guru to market your home for sale, call 914-522-2076.


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