Introduction: Preserving Buildings

Hi! This is my entry in the Preserve It! contest. Let me know what you think, & your vote would be greatly appreciated.

Remember back in the day when homeownership was the American dream (before subprime mortgage lenders got away with the crime of the century so far)?

The dream is alive as many Americans aspire to get their name on the deed of their own castle because of the benefits of ownership over renting.

A home usually appreciates in value, so it's a nest egg for the future. Your mortgage payments go toward your equity. And also toward interest on the loan, but the IRS allows a big tax deduction for that.

Now that the government and your parents have encouraged you to buy, better think about how to protect the value of your investment.

This is the time of year many people address their home maintenance. Let's get to work then.

Step 1: Take a Walkaround

Take a look around, inside and out, basement to attic.

Probably the most damaging element to buildings is water. Keep an eye out for damaged wood, stains on the ceiling, and water in the basement.

What kind of shape are your shingles, gutters & downspouts in? Shingles like those on the right are very bad. The water's going to dribble into the sheathing & rot it. The shingles on the house, that is, mobile home, are ok for now.

You'll have to track down how water's getting in or isn't being properly diverted so you can correct it.

Examples: I had water on the ceiling below a valley between two angles of roof. I also found a leak around a vent pipe, which is a 3" diameter black plastic tube over the toilet that sticks out the roof.

Other damagers might include freakin squirrels or pesky mice. If you see anything to suggest termites, you need an exterminator's help right away.

It's a good idea also to avoid stacking firewood against your house. Insects that you dont mind biting your firewood can damage your house.

While you're looking, pay attention to places the air you pay to heat might escape from the living space. The edges of doors & windows are frequently guilty.

Heat loves to escape through the attic too, and there are many, many articles online dealing with that. Renting a machine that blows insulation is a great way to go, I believe.

But let's stick to the intended scope, keeping the weather from wearing down our house.

Step 2: A Simplified Example of What a Huge Responsibility You've Gotten Yourself Into

I live in the Midwest in a little mobile home, and I also own a house that some friends rent from me. You may be in Florida or Oregon & dealing with different natural forces than I am. You'll have to do some research on your specifics.

Here's something I was working on today that I hope will demonstrate some common DIY ways to keep the elements from destroying your abode.

I was noticing that the bottom edge of our storage shed was rotting. I ignored it for a while, but I knew it wouldn't be a shed anymore if I didn't get some paint on it.

On my walkaround, I found the outer walls are made of OSB (oriented strand board) sheathing, which are meant to be covered with siding, but they're not. They're exposed to absorb water.

Also, the lowest sides of roof don't extend past the walls, & there are no gutters, so the lower part of the walls sit wet when it rains.

Aaaand, a nest of bees.

Let's get to work!

Step 3: Putting on the Shed's Winter Coat

I know, looks good fer a trailer park, huh? My spouse calls it "janky" but also "cute."

This is a half-assed job to buy some time for my mower, etc to be sheltered. I don't store my silver service out there. No, because I use it every afternoon for high tea with the garden club.

First I scrounged up some wood scraps. OSB has been working so well, I used some more of that. I nailed or screwed those scraps over the rotted spots of the shed. The pounding really disturbed the bees' nest, so I quickly screwed in that spot.

Next I squirted Great Stuff expanding foam in big gaps. Tricky thing about Stuff is you want to plan in advance where you want to squirt it because it hardens in the application tube a few minutes after you stop spraying it.

Also, you should really wear gloves. I never do, & I always wear Stuff on my hands for the next two days.

When it's dry, you can slice off the excess bulges of expansion with a bread knife.

The next weapon in my arsenal is caulk. I've been said to be such a master of this building material that I could build a whole house with it.

Caulk. Yes. The cheapest I know of is about $1 at Walmart. Alex Painters' caulk is about $1.29 at Home Depot. Get lots. Use it everywhere (except the bathroom & kitchen - use silicone there).

I loaded a tube in my caulk gun & set to filling every little crack or hole I could find. I caulked around the edges of those attractive patch boards. My technique is to lay down a bead & then run my finger along it to squish it in & level it.

After that dried, I applied a coat of primer. What a tedious task it was to use the brush to mash primer into the texture of the OSB that the moisture had raised.

Then on went a coat of paint. I found a little piece of siding from the house & took that to Menards. A clerk asked, low, mid or high grade. You get what you pay for with paint. I said mid, she got my color off my siding & mixed it up.

I still need to do the trim. We couldn't decide if we should change the color, but I've decided no way, since I'd want to repaint all the trim on the house too, and that would be a lot of painting.

Can you find what's wrong in the last picture? I mentioned earlier that it's unwise to stack wood against a structure. But if you do, it's unwise to climb a ladder that's standing on said woodstack (yes, I did, but you must be safe).

Step 4: Update: Added Gutters

See, this is why you save old stuff. I took this gutter off an ooold garage a while back. When I cut it in half, it was just the right length for both sides of the shed. I angled it downward towards the back. Now the rain will be directed away from the walls of the shed.

Step 5: DIY, Homeowner!

Now go forth & identify your trouble spots. Triage based on how much time, skill & money you have to fix them & dig in.

Here's another one of mine. On our screened-in deck, gutters were installed, but the roof doesn't extend out from the edge of the wall with an overhang. So, when it rains, the gutters overfill, & the water runs down the screen & onto the floor of the deck.

It's a mess. Water damage to all that wood. You have to figure out how to redirect that water. My little rain chain doesn't cut it.

I plan to clean the leaves out of the gutters (again), I could install leaf guards, replace rotten wood, staple plastic sheeting over the area where the water comes in, and of course caulk everything for good measure.

In my midwest area, homeownership has always been a better deal than renting. My advice is get your mortgage from a real bank, don't try to resell it in less than 3 years, and location, location, location. You can do it!

Thanks for reading! If you like this ible, you can vote for my entry in the Preserve It! Contest by clicking the trophy at the top.

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