Chicago handyman discusses preventive maintenance
Chicago handyman expert
Rod Southard, owner
Handymen & Mrs. Helper/
Painting With Perfection
Rod Southard started his handyman business about seven years ago, leaving behind a career in business consulting. He credits regular communication as a keystone to his business.
"The biggest thing I noticed when we first started is that contractors didn't do well in customer service," Southard says. "Coming from a business background, you have to do that."
When it comes to preventive maintenance, what should homeowners be looking for?
There are a couple of things people call the most about. One is replacing rotted wood around windows and doors. Cracked grout or silicone in the bathroom is another common repair. And then leaky or slow-flowing faucets are another common item.
With the rotted wood, walk around your house once every year or so with a knife and test the wood around your windows or doors. If the wood is soft, or if there's any chipped or peeling paint, it should be fixed right away. If the paint layer sealing in the wood is broken, the wood sucks in moisture and becomes rotted.
If you keep up with checking to make sure your home's exterior is properly painted, caulked and sealed, you won't be surprised with major repairs.
Northern Illinois' extreme weather is bad on home exteriors. That's why preventive maintenance and doing things like checking the paint and caulking on your home are so important. Another item is the outside spigots; people need to unhook their hoses before it freezes, even if you have frost-proof spigot.
You should also inspect your bathroom fixtures on a regular basis. If you see any cracking or peeling grout or silicone, get it repaired right away.
When it comes to slow-flowing faucets, most people call because they're not getting any water flow. Usually it's just full of debris; you can just unscrew the screen where the water comes out, wash it and put it back in and that will fix the problem.
We charge by the hour, by the job or by the estimate. If you call and only need a small repair, the first thing we do is ask if there's anything else we can do because those jobs are an hourly rate. Most people do tend to let a few small repairs add up before they call us, which can be more cost effective.
It's usually stuff they don't think about on a regular basis, like doors that stick. Also for hourly jobs, preparing ahead of time can save you some money; like if you have an issue with your sink, get all the stuff out from underneath it. It only takes five minutes, so it's not a big deal for us to do it, but it adds time.
For larger jobs, we'll do an estimate and it's a fixed price. If we can't see what the problem is or if it's hidden or damaged, we'll give them a price range. We always try to tell the customer the price ahead of time. Even with the hourly items, we can give an estimate of how long it will take.