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Mike Holmes: It’s finally spring

We’re finally at the beginning of spring. That means spring maintenance — the stuff we do to get our homes in tip-top shape for next winter. It also means renovation season is just around the corner.
If you have a renovation or construction project you want completed before next winter, get on it now. It’s going to take at least a couple of months to find the right professional, so you better start looking and doing your homework fast; otherwise, you might have to put it off until next year.
When it comes to home repairs and maintenance, spring is about re-roofing, upgrading or replacing windows or regrading.
Most people want to jump right into creating their dream backyard in time for summer, renovating the kitchen or a bathroom, or finishing the basement. But you have to think smart. What’s the point of getting the perfect backyard if it’s just going to get trampled over and ruined if you have to fix a crack in the foundation, replace the windows or regrade your property to prevent a leak or flood?
These fixes make such a difference in your home, but a lot of homeowners lose perspective as the temperatures get warmer — they get spring fever. That’s when you forget about what’s important, such as upgrading insulation, making sure your attic is well-ventilated and insulated, or making sure the roof is strong and there’s a system that directs water away from your house and its foundation.
Instead, many people go with the impulse buys — the stuff we all want, like that awesome deck or man cave, modern kitchen or hot tub. But we should work from the outside in, looking at the building envelope first so that anything we do on the inside is protected and therefore lasts.
Prioritizing spring fixes
1. The most important thing is to regrade your property. Grading with at least a five-degree slope away from the foundation (that’s a one-inch slope for every horizontal foot) can help protect against basement flooding and leaks. This is the time of year you’ll start to notice if your property has sunk away from your foundation; build it up, and divert water away.
2. Look for puddling around the yard. Spring brings many showers, and with all the melting snow it’s no wonder basement flooding is common during this season. If you’re concerned, bring in a contractor you trust as soon as possible. They might be able to give you a temporary solution so that permanent repairs can be made during summer.
3. Inspect caulking around windows and doors. If it’s cracked, replace it. There’s a lot of good caulking on the market, but educate yourself so you know what you’re buying. A rubberized exterior caulking moves with the window framing so the seal doesn’t break as it expands and contracts with changing temperatures.
If there has been a lot of condensation or mould on your windowsills, or cold drafts around them, bring in a window pro. It might be time to replace and upgrade your windows.
4. And of course, check your roof. From the ground, look for missing, torn, buckling or curling shingles, or shingles with missing granules. These, along with asphalt granules in eavestroughs (you have to clean your eavestroughs, too!), are telltale signs your roof needs attention.
If you work from the outside in and keep up with regular seasonal maintenance, your home and future renovations will be protected — not to mention, your family will be, too.
Mike Holmes, Special to National Post