Tips from the home repair trenches
As we enter home repair season, my phone rings more frequently. The city is alive with a buzz of repair hysteria (as I lovingly refer to it). Violation lists from the city inspectors are on their way to anxious homeowners, and the melting snow has revealed exterior repairs in need of attention. Here are a few tips I can share with residents who may be experiencing some of these springtime rituals:
Don’t put off till tomorrow what can be done today. Home repairs that aren’t fixed sooner rather than later will only lead to more extreme issues down the line. Keep an eye on things. If something doesn’t seem right, get it checked out in a timely manner.
Do your homework. Whether you decide to contract out a repair or do the work yourself, look online or at the library to get information about the project. Home Repair Resource Center has a repair library with handouts, DVDs, and videos that offer information on the best materials and repair techniques to use. The more information you have, the better. You will be a more informed consumer when dealing with a contractor or a supply company. Get several estimates and always check references. The City of Cleveland Heights has a list of registered contractors, and the Home Repair Resource Center has several contractor books that are filled with evaluations to help you make your choice.
Money doesn’t grow on trees. As with many things, you never know what to expect regarding the costs of repairs. It is always best to search out the options that are available to you in your community. For residents of Cleveland Heights who have a low-to-moderate income, Home Repair Resource Center offers HUD-supported repair grants and low-to-no-interest loans for home repairs, as well as a loan guarantee that can help homeowners with credit issues obtain bank financing. These benefits are designed to make home repairs more affordable.
There are also several loan programs available through local banks, such as the Home Enhancement Loan Program (HELP), which reduces the current market interest rate by 3 percent; and the Heritage Home Program, provided through the Cleveland Restoration Society. Either of these loans will help with repairs, enhance your curb appeal, provide a low interest rate, and much more. Both are available to homeowners of any income who can qualify for a conventional bank loan.
Don’t be fooled. Pay your contractor only for work completed or value received. You work hard for your money, so don’t watch it walk away. Always make sure that you are happy with the completed job before paying the contractor. Make sure that if the work needs a permit, that it passes inspection.
These are just a few tips. Please call 216-381-6100 or visit www.hrrc-ch.org for more helpful hints.
Allison Urbanek is the financial programs counselor at Home Repair Resource Center.