General Contractors. Q&A

I recently was a part of a "Question and Answer" through a site I have registered at called Thumbtack.  It's an app on your smartphone where you can find a variety of trades and services.  I felt compelled to post in a blog. 

Home Maintenance Checklist

Your To-Do List

Over the years we have seen many, many issues on a home that could have been prevented.  Preventative maintenance of your home should not be overlooked.   Understanding that most homeowner’s do not know where to start,  we would like to help.  Using our Maintenance Schedule and following it will save you hundreds, if not thousands, of dollars and provide you with a lifetime of peaceful home ownership. 

Keep it off the house!

The most overlooked rot problem on your house

Did you know you can protect your house from pest infestation and dry rot?  Your house is built up on a concrete foundation for a very important reason.  Wood siding and trim must have adequate clearance from dirt, bark and other landscape materials that surround the house exterior.  When yard materials come in contact with the wood materials of your house the result can be devastating.  Dirt and debris in contact with your siding and trim make very appealing “highways” for many kinds of undesirable creepy crawly creatures.  Moist wood is like a banquet spread before wood destroying insects.  

We have repaired insect and dry rot damaged walls that could have been easily avoided with some simple yard maintenance.  


Follow these simple steps and protect your home:

1. Walk around the outside of your house and look for areas where dirt, bark or other landscape materials are up against wood materials.  Most commonly…your planter bark.

2. If you discover problem areas simply take a shovel or rake and pull back the undesirable materials away from your house and at least 6 inches below all your siding and trim.

3. Inspect the wood materials for any possible wood rot damage.

4. If you are concerned that you may have wood rot damage, please call us as soon as possible to make the repairs necessary to prevent further damage.


Hopefully you have not waited too long.  They say a picture is worth a thousand words…


Roof Leak?

Did you ever stop to consider that your home is your greatest investment. Second to your home is probably your car. Unfortunately for most homeowners they take better care of their car than they do their home.  Maintenance of your home’s components is an essential part of taking care of your home. Just as you care for your car to prevent future problems, you should use preventative maintenance to do the same for your home. A maintenance schedule should be strictly adhered to. The preventative maintenance aspects of your home has many benefits including, but not limited to, avoiding certain major repairs, extending the life expectancy of many components, and in countless cases reducing energy consumption. 

Let’s consider one area of your home you probably rarely, if at all, inspect.  Above your ceiling and under your roof is the attic, a rather large, dark and scary place. But think about this, your roof is actually full of holes.  That’s right holes.  There are holes for plumbing vents, kitchen and bath fan vents, your chimney, skylights and maybe many others. You might think that your roof keeps you dry and for the most part it does but just think about all those “holes”.  If each and every hole through your roof is not properly sealed and flashed you could have real problems.

Here is what you should do.  Find the attic access in the ceiling of your home and go up into the attic and look (careful not to step of ceiling joists!).  Inspect for water stains, mildew, and fungus on the underside of the roof sheathing, indicating high humidity levels. Especially look at each of the “holes” coming through your roof and check to make sure the insulation is not wet.  Best time of year for a project like this is those rainy winter days.

Conclusion?  If after an inspection you see something that concerns you, have a professional examine and get it fixed.  Protect your investment.


Obnoxious Swinging Door

A customer of ours called recently asking for some help.  There was a door in her home that would not stay put in a partially opened positioned.  Like this….

Our customer was told by her “handyman” neighbor that that the door was hung incorrectly and he could remove the door and reinstall it for $250.  And while it is true that the door had not been hung correctly, there is an alternative solution to the problem…it takes about ten minutes.

First, remove one of the hinge pins.  If the door had three hinge pins, remove the middle pin.

Now strike the hinge pin with a hammer to slightly bend the pin.  The hinge pin should be slightly bent. 

Finally, replace the hinge pin.  Since it does have a slight bend it will be necessary to tap the pin lightly with a hammer to secure it back in place.

Problem solved.  No mess, no fuss. 


Water leak at ceiling…roof or plumbing? Maybe neither!

We recently were called by a homeowner who was quite distressed about a water leak in the ceiling of their home.   In all fairness to the homeowner, a plumber was called because the leak was in the first floor ceiling so it was apparently not a roof leak.  The plumber had decided that the one piece fiberglass tub/shower above on the second floor was the problem.  So the plumber spent time and homeowner’s money but did not resolve the problem.  

We arrived at the home and opened up the ceiling at the leak area and we did see the tub/shower drain and valve directly above.  We went through our normal troubleshooting but could not recreate the leak. And then…an epiphany.  The homeowner had removed the shower head and installed a hand held shower for their two teenage daughters.  The daughters were each showering at least twice a day.  So what we did next was rather revealing.   Grasping the hand held shower and pointing it directly at the valve and spout on the wall of the tub/shower, a force of water was sprayed.  Immediately water began dripping…no running down onto the ceiling below. 

To make a long story short, we did apply some sealant but the fact of the matter is that the homeowner is creating the problem and should not expect the one piece fiberglass tub/shower unit to prevent unreasonable demands of forced water.    

Most of you have a Primary Care Physician (PCP) to take care of your physical body.  How many of you have a Primary Care Contractor (PCC) to take care of your home?  As general contractors we see the whole picture because we manage and coordinate the entire project.  And with over 30 years of customer service experience and troubleshooting problems, consider Balas Homes as your Primary Care Contractor.

Winter Pipes

With winter coming and the thermometer dropping it is important to consider steps necessary to keep your pipes from freezing.  Here are some things you can do to save on costly repair bills.

  •  Do not leave hoses on hose bibs.
  • Drain frost proof hose bibs with vacuum breakers, when required (check the hose bib instructions).
  • Keep your house heated above freezing (don’t forget garages and crawl spaces).
  • Make sure water meter boxes are filled with sawdust and the lid is on tight.
  • Keep doors and windows closed to keep heat in.
  • Insulated pipes in unheated garages will not ensure you against freeze damage if the garage gets too cold.  If you do not plan to keep areas like this minimally heated, it is our advice to consider installing heat tape.  If your washing machine is in a garage, this is imperative.  The initial cost may save you from future frozen pipes.

"The Code of the West"

Balas Homes Ethics.jpeg

Jim Owen writes the book Cowboy Ethics: What It Takes to Win at Life.  I stumbled across an article Jim wrote in the American Cowboy magazine where he describes the virtues of cowboy ethics.  He writes, "There's an authenticity and practical ethics embodied in the The Code of the West.  Even though it was never written down, it's a widely understood set of behaviors that sets the expectation." I look forward to reading the book and how it may inspire me as in individual and business owner.

Here are ten ethics Jim lists in his article:

1. Live each day with courage.  2. Take pride in your work.  3. Always finish what you start.  4. Do what has to be done.  5. Be tough, but fair.  6. When you make a promise, keep it.  7. Ride for the brand.  8. Talk less and say more.  9. Remember that some things aren't for sale.  10. Know where to draw the line.