A person sees a lot in 30 years in the home building business.
One of the things Jerry Frier of South Tampa noticed was the way in which homes deteriorate without regular maintenance.
So earlier this year, with the economy shutting down home building in the Tampa Bay area, Frier decided to start a company to help people tackle small problems before they turned into major ones.
Frier will come out for a one-time fix, but his business, Sigma Home Maintenance and Construction Inc., is based on enrolling clients and then visiting their homes on a quarterly basis.
The cost of this home maintenance?
Between $250 and $500 a quarter, depending on the age and condition of the house.
Frier said he tries to educate people on how to maintain their homes — either by doing it themselves, hiring his company or hiring any handyman service.
"Your house is your most valuable asset — do with it what you do with your car. Keep it looking new," Frier said.
We asked Frier what homeowners can do to keep their house in tip-top shape.
What home maintenance duties do homeowners most often ignore?
Homeowners don't clean drain traps. They don't clean out the lint from the dryer vent. That is the No. 1 cause of house fires. They do seem to always change their air filters — but they don't vacuum out the duct system when they do. We do that. They also don't clean refrigerator coils. That's where everything in the house collects.
What is the most important thing homeowners should do with their homes?
Because of the weather we have in Florida, continually check for water intrusion around windows and doors. Look for hairline cracks. If the exterior is stucco, look for hairline cracks and repair them because they could get worse and that could result in major repairs. Stop water from coming into the house. Caulk around doors, windows and in wet areas like showers and tubs. People tend to neglect that and it causes major problems when water gets behind walls.
What do you look for in new homes as opposed to old homes?
We look for the same things. People think that if they have a new home, they don't need maintenance, but a new home is settling. It will have more cracking in stucco and exterior finishing. An older home has pretty much settled.
What are the most important things a homeowner should do during hurricane season?
Have the roof inspected, make sure flashing isn't curved up and the shingles are all down.
Fix exterior cracks in finishes and trims. The house has to be sealed up tight. Check weather stripping on doors.
Patti Ewald is a freelance writer based in Gulfport. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.