This may be one of the most important posts I’ve placed. It’s practical encouragement based on experience.
Downsizing is not always fun. It’s emotional, physical and mentally challenging at any time of life but for those of us who are Baby Boomers who are widowed or divorced it’s especially challenging. Regardless if you are a man or woman, if you’re a single Boomer facing this downsizing and moving thing you have a lot ahead of you, so be prepared for it. I happen to be a single woman with a philosophy; If a guy can do it I can too. Not always true but for me a great starting place because it gives me the courage to try.
I’ve done much of my prep with little patience, grace and good humor. I don’t always know my limitations and take on too much, so I’m grumpy, frustrated and despondent. The added burden of “doing it alone” doesn’t help, there’s no kindred spirit in the house to share it with so it’s seriously important to-
Know Your Limitations
I’m physically fit, healthy, strong and a pretty solid DIY’er. I watch a little TV like DIY Network and HGTV but the biggest indicator of your ability to handle the chores associated with selling (and even buying) a home is not what you watch but your skills at doing. Here’s a good checklist to go over; if you’ve done many or most of these things, then go ahead and tackle the prep as a DIY’er, if not, hire a pro.
- Know where your circuit breaker box is and how to access/use it. How Stuff Works explains circuit breaker basics.
- Know where your main water line turn off is and can access/use it.
- Have you used hand and/or power tools such as cordless drill, hacksaw, wrenches
- Have you patched a wall with spackling or patched sheetrock.
- Have replaced a wall outlet or light switch.
- Have replaced or installed a light fixture (with existing wiring).
- Painted walls or trim.
- Have pulled out appliances to clean them from the back and underside.
- Change your furnace filters.
- Have sanded and refinished something.
- Troubleshoot fixes before calling a pro.
- Have tried to tile a floor or backsplash.
- Removed a sink trap.
I’m a single woman and I’ll try most anything. My thoughts are if a guy can do it so can I (not always true) and how bad can I mess it up? If I do, call a pro and nothing lost! (always true) Some of the items on the list are easy, spackling nail holes for instance, but remember there are tools associated with most tasks and if you don’t have them, weigh purchasing against hiring. If you have not tools at all, then you aren’t a DIY’er and not is not the time to start.
Hire a Pro
I have tools-lots of tools and I use them, so I consider myself a pretty solid DIY’er, but if you don’t have tools, time, practice and inclination to do prep work yourself, leave it to a pro. Now is not the time to amp up the learning curve.
How to find them? Angie’s List is no longer the best place to find your pro. They accept advertising and contractors can buy their way to the top of the list, which defeats the whole purpose so where to turn? The internet has been my best friend and I have found AMAZING wonderful contractors by searching the internet then doing the most vital part of the process-vetting them which is easier than you might think. Here’s what I do.
Find a Pro
Ask on Facebook. Ask on your local yard sale, community and other local pages. Be specific. When looking for a roofer I said they had to be licensed, no my brother’s friend…I also said they needed to have references. They ought to have a Facebook business page or website but many smaller outfits don’t. That’s ok, just makes it a little more work for you.
I had people come to the house. Use your gut to assess, do they have a decent vehicle, business cards, professional response to your request for a quote, then provide a written quote? Can they answer all your questions (which are based on your research)? Are they in a rush or booked months out? Are they offering a discount if you do it NOW? Get their full contact information and Google them. Virginia has a great website to look at criminal records and I even check those out. Why? If Danny has 20 DUI convictions over the past year, that’s a red flag. USE YOUR COMMON SENSE! In Virginia you can visit Virginia Courts Case and Status Information to search. Also each state has online contractors licensing information, check to be sure licenses are valid. Last but not least, ask for proof of liability insurance. If the contractor does anything other than willing provide this, cut them loose.