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Derek La Rosa's Handyman Services

Call 815-861-8826

Serving the Fox Valley

Based in South Elgin


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Spring Repairs and Maintenance Issues

Posted by derek.larosa on February 27, 2016 at 11:30 AM Comments comments (0)

Spring is almost here. Now is the time to start checking on any exterior repairs that need to be taken care of such as siding and trim replacement, fence and mailbox repairs from those windy days we've had, replacing old dried out and cracked caulking around windows and doors and taking care of any roofing issues before the rain comes. Does the exterior of your home need a fresh coat of paint? Schedule a free estimate today. Many repairs can be done year round, others like painting and staining, need to be done once the temperature is consistenly above 40 degrees.

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Posted by derek.larosa on December 24, 2015 at 10:15 AM Comments comments (0)

Merry Christmas and Happy New Year!

Simple Tips to Help Prevent Flooding Your Basement This Winter

Posted by derek.larosa on February 23, 2014 at 11:50 AM Comments comments (0)

This winter we have experienced an abundance of snow. Now that winter is coming to an end, temperatures are rising and all that snow is going to melt. All that water has to go somewhere, hopefully not in your basement.

One thing we can do as home owners, if you have experienced any water leaking into your basement, this is unfortunate an can be delt with now or if it can be put off until it's a little warmer out and all the snow is gone, it will be easier to inspect the foundation and window wells inside and out. For now, the best thing you can do is to get all that snow away from your house. The further the better, but I recommend removing any snow from around the foundation of the house by at least 10'. By doing so, all that snow will have a better chance to slowly melt into the ground or run off away from the house and the the area around the house where the snow has been removed can dry out. The gutters will then be clear and and all the snow on the roof will have somewhere to go once it melts.

This will help in the near term and improve your chances of water not coming into your basement. The issue of cracks in your foundation, around windows or water coming up from drains will still have to be looked at seperately. For further assistance, you can contact us by calling the number at the top of your screen.

Average Cost of Home Maintenance

Posted by derek.larosa on April 4, 2013 at 9:35 AM Comments comments (0)


Exactly how much it costs to maintain a home is a pretty vague thing. Every home is different so the number will vary a lot. A brand new home should not cost anywhere near as much to maintain as a run down home built 100 years ago. So getting a generic number for home maintenance costs is not realistic. However when you're buying a home you should at least have some sort of ballpark idea of what maintenance costs will be. How can you figure a ballpark estimate of annual home maintenance costs?



I've seen sources cite rule of thumbs for figuring maintenance. This page from Coldwell Banker says: " The recommendations for annual maintenance costs range from 1.5 to 4 percent of the home's original cost." The Housemaster website says: "HouseMaster estimates that homeowners should spend between 1 to 3% of the value of your home on annual home maintenance and repairs." But these are both just rough ballpark estimates. The ranges are 1-4%. For a home worth $200k that would be $2000 to $8000 per year. This is much higher than what I've actually spent myself. But this broad range might reflect the wide differences between new and old homes and between well maintained or run down homes.

How much money should you budget for home maintenance and repairs? Here are the two rules of thumb that help guide this calculation, as well as a list of home-related factors you should consider as you decide how much you need to save.


The 1 Percent Rule


One popular rule of thumb says that one percent of the purchase price of your home should be set aside each year for ongoing maintenance. For example, if your home cost $300,000, you should budget $3,000 per year for maintenance.


That doesn’t mean you’ll literally spend $3,000 every year. It just means that on average, over a span of a long time period (10 years or more), you’ll spend around $3,000 annually, according to this rule of thumb. Some years you’ll spend far more; a roof replacement, for instance, will cost $4,000 - $8,000. Other years, you’ll spend far less.


Of course, this popular rule of thumb isn’t totally valid. Your market timing doesn’t impact your maintenance budget. If you happened to buy your home at the peak of the housing bubble, your maintenance costs won’t skyrocket. Similarly, if you picked up your home at a steep discount at the bottom of the housing market, your maintenance budget shouldn’t be affected.


The underlying price of your home and its repair costs, in other words, are “independent variables.” They correlate only insofar as they’re both impacted by the cost of labor and materials in your particular geographic area.


The Square Foot Rule


Another rule of thumb says that you should budget $1 per square foot per year for maintenance and repair costs. If you own a 2,000 square foot home, for example, budget $2,000 a year for maintenance and repairs (again, over a long-term annualized average).


This rule of thumb makes slightly more sense than the “1 percent of purchase price” rule. The more square feet you’re managing, the more you’ll need to spend.


One drawback to this rule, though, is that it doesn’t account for labor and material costs in your area. In certain parts of the nation, contractors are significantly more expensive.


What Factors Should You Consider?


Rules of thumb aside, what factors make the biggest impact in the cost of your maintenance and repairs?


Age – The age of the property will play a huge role. New construction (a home built within the last 5 – 10 years) will need very little maintenance. Homes 10-20 years old will need slightly more. Once a home turns 20-30, though, there’s a good chance that major components, such as the roof, hot water heater, and some piping, may need to be replaced.


Weather – Homes in areas affected by freezing temperatures, ice and snow are subject to more strain than homes in areas unaffected by cold weather. Similarly, homes in areas where termites, high winds, heavy rains and other extreme weather conditions or pest infestations will experience more wear-and-tear.


Condition – Some homes are more than 100+ years old, but are in pristine condition, thanks to previous generations exercising careful maintenance. Other homes, however, have been neglected and shoddily repaired over the years. The older the home, the more impact a previous owner’s care (or lack thereof) will impact the home’s maintenance needs.


Location – Homes located at the bottom of a hill (where water drains and collects), in a flood plain, or in other areas that create environmental stresses will also impact the amount of care and maintenance it needs.


Single-Family vs. Attached – A single-family home needs a larger maintenance budget, since you need to replace your own roof, siding and gutters and maintain a yard. A condo or townhome won’t need as hefty of a maintenance budget, since the exterior is cared for by your HOA.


How Much Should You Budget for Home Maintenance?


Given all these variables, I hope you can understand why there’s no good “rule of thumb” that governs how much you should set aside for home maintenance and repairs. The weather, age, condition, location and type of property that you own will all play a huge factor in determining the amount of money you need to save.


That said, if you have no clue how much you should set aside, here’s a good way to guess:


First, take the average of the one percent rule and the square foot rule. If one percent of your purchase price equals $3,000, and the square foot rule equals $2,000, then your average is $2,500.


Then add an additional 10 percent for each factor (weather, condition, age, location, type) that adversely affects your home. If you have an older home, in a flood plain, in an area that experiences freezing temperatures, add 30 percent to $2,500. That’s an extra $750 a year.


That means that you should save about $3,250 each year, or $270.83 per month, for home maintenance.


Again, this is just a generalized rule. It’s hard to predict how much your home will cost to maintain. The best you can do is make an educated guess based on your home’s unique factors.

Home Maintenance Schedule and Checklist

Posted by derek.larosa on April 4, 2013 at 12:20 AM Comments comments (0)

Like a car, your home needs regular maintenance and occasional tune-ups to stay in tip-top shape. Fortunately, you can complete most of the following tasks yourself by following this season-by-season schedule of indoor and outdoor maintenance.

Spring Home Maintenance

In spring, focus on freshening up your home and protecting your property against the season's strong winds and rains.

Outdoor Tasks:

Clean gutters and downspouts.

Inspect roof and chimney for cracks and damage.

Touch up peeling or damaged paint.

Wash all windows, inside and out.

Install screens on windows and doors.

Clean outdoor furniture and air out cushions.

Service your lawn mower.

Fertilize your lawn.

Indoor Tasks:

Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when you set clocks forward.

If your basement has a sump pump, test it by dumping a large bucket of water into the basin of the sump pump. This should activate the sump pump. If it does not switch on or if it's not pumping water, it may need to be serviced by a professional. Also, check for and remove any debris and make sure there are no leaks.

Wash and change seasonal bedding.

Dust blinds and vacuum curtains throughout your house.

Clean kitchen and bathroom cabinets and throw away outdated food, medicine and cosmetics.

Summer Home Maintenance

In summer, complete the following projects to keep your yard lush and your home cool.


Outdoor Tasks: 

Walk around your home's exterior and slide open crawl space vents at the foundation.

Prune trees and shrubs.

Remove lint from dryer exhaust vent.

Uncover central air conditioner and install window air conditioners.


Indoor Tasks:

Change or clean heating, ventilating and air conditioning filters.

Clean kitchen appliances inside and out, including refrigerator coils.

Maintain clean drains by adding a half-cup of baking soda followed by a half-cup of white vinegar. After 10 minutes, flush with boiling water.

Drain or flush water heater.

Fall Home Maintenance:

In fall, prepare your home and yard for cooler temperatures, falling leaves and more hours spent indoors.


Outdoor Tasks:

Clean gutters and downspouts.

Inspect roof and chimney for cracks and damage.

Rake leaves and shred to use as mulch.

Close or install storm windows.

Remove hoses from spigots and drain and store indoors, coiled and flat.

Store outdoor furniture and cushions.

Test snow blower and have it professionally serviced if necessary.

Rake Leaves

Indoor Tasks: 

Test smoke and carbon monoxide detectors when you set clocks back in the fall.

Check windows and doors for weather-tightness and install weather stripping where it's needed.

Have furnace professionally inspected.

If needed, set traps for rodents.

Dust blinds and vacuum curtains throughout your house.

Clean kitchen and bathroom cabinets and throw away outdated food, medicine and cosmetics


Winter Home Maintenance:

In winter, enjoy energy-efficient warmth and the fruits of your home-maintenance labors. Use this time of the year to thoroughly clean and care for your home's interior while taking a few precautionary measures on the outside.


Outdoor Tasks:

Walk around your home's exterior and check the crawl space vents located at the foundation. Close any that are open.

Protect your central air conditioning unit with a cover, and remove and store window air conditioners.

Clean and store garden tools.

Move snow shovels and snow blowers to a convenient spot.

Indoor Tasks: 

Change or clean furnace filters.

Clean kitchen appliances inside and out, including refrigerator coils.

Maintain clean drains by adding one-half-cup baking soda followed by one-half-cup white vinegar. After 10 minutes, flush with boiling water.




Prepare Your House For Sale

Posted by derek.larosa on April 3, 2013 at 11:45 PM Comments comments (0)

Prepping and staging a house. Every seller wants her home to sell fast and bring top dollar. Does that sound good to you? Well, it's not luck that makes that happen. It's careful planning and knowing how to professionally spruce up your home that will send home buyers scurrying for their checkbooks. Here is how to prep a house and turn it into an irresistible and marketable home.

Here's How:


Disassociate Yourself With Your Home.

Say to yourself, "This is not my home; it is a house -- a product to be sold much like a box of cereal on the grocery store shelf.

Make the mental decision to "let go" of your emotions and focus on the fact that soon this house will no longer be yours.

Picture yourself handing over the keys and envelopes containing appliance warranties to the new owners!

Say goodbye to every room.

Don't look backwards -- look toward the future.


Pack up those personal photographs and family heirlooms. Buyers can't see past personal artifacts, and you don't want them to be distracted. You want buyers to imagine their own photos on the walls, and they can't do that if yours are there! You don't want to make any buyer ask, "I wonder what kind of people live in this home?" You want buyers to say, "I can see myself living here."


People collect an amazing quantity of junk. Consider this: if you haven't used it in over a year, you probably don't need it.

If you don't need it, why not donate it or throw it away?

Remove all books from bookcases.

Pack up those knickknacks.

Clean off everything on kitchen counters.

Put essential items used daily in a small box that can be stored in a closet when not in use.

Think of this process as a head-start on the packing you will eventually need to do anyway.

Rearrange Bedroom Closets and Kitchen Cabinets.

Buyers love to snoop and will open closet and cabinet doors. Think of the message it sends if items fall out! Now imagine what a buyer believes about you if she sees everything organized. It says you probably take good care of the rest of the house as well. This means:

Alphabetize spice jars.

Neatly stack dishes.

Turn coffee cup handles facing the same way.

Hang shirts together, buttoned and facing the same direction.

Line up shoes.

Rent a Storage Unit.

Almost every home shows better with less furniture. Remove pieces of furniture that block or hamper paths and walkways and put them in storage. Since your bookcases are now empty, store them. Remove extra leaves from your dining room table to make the room appear larger. Leave just enough furniture in each room to showcase the room's purpose and plenty of room to move around. You don't want buyers scratching their heads and saying, "What is this room used for?"

Remove/Replace Favorite Items.

If you want to take window coverings, built-in appliances or fixtures with you, remove them now. If the chandelier in the dining room once belonged to your great grandmother, take it down. If a buyer never sees it, she won't want it. Once you tell a buyer she can't have an item, she will covet it, and it could blow your deal. Pack those items and replace them, if necessary.

Make Minor Repairs.

Replace cracked floor or counter tiles.

Patch holes in walls.

Fix leaky faucets.

Fix doors that don't close properly and kitchen drawers that jam.

Consider painting your walls neutral colors, especially if you have grown accustomed to purple or pink walls.

(Don't give buyers any reason to remember your home as "the house with the orange bathroom.")

Replace burned-out light bulbs.

If you've considered replacing a worn bedspread, do so now!

Make the House Sparkle!

Wash windows inside and out.

Rent a pressure washer and spray down sidewalks and exterior.

Clean out cobwebs.

Re-caulk tubs, showers and sinks.

Polish chrome faucets and mirrors.

Clean out the refrigerator.

Vacuum daily.

Wax floors.

Dust furniture, ceiling fan blades and light fixtures.

Bleach dingy grout.

Replace worn rugs.

Hang up fresh towels.

Bathroom towels look great fastened with ribbon and bows.

Clean and air out any musty smelling areas. Odors are a no-no.


Go outside and open your front door. Stand there. Do you want to go inside? Does the house welcome you?

Linger in the doorway of every single room and imagine how your house will look to a buyer.

Examine carefully how furniture is arranged and move pieces around until it makes sense.

Make sure window coverings hang level.

Tune in to the room's statement and its emotional pull. Does it have impact and pizzazz?

Does it look like nobody lives in this house? You're almost finished.

Check Curb Appeal.

If a buyer won't get out of her agent's car because she doesn't like the exterior of your home, you'll never get her inside.

Keep the sidewalks cleared.

Mow the lawn.

Paint faded window trim.

Plant yellow flowers or group flower pots together. Yellow evokes a buying emotion. Marigolds are inexpensive.

Trim your bushes.

Make sure visitors can clearly read your house number.

Repairs Before Selling Boost Profits

Posted by derek.larosa on April 3, 2013 at 11:35 PM Comments comments (0)

Quick fixes before selling a home always pay off, but which repairs bring the biggest return? Specific answers to this often-asked question largely depend on a variety of factors such as:

Time of year

Location of the home

Market temperature

Competing inventory

There is no hard and fast rule. But there are general guidelines that apply to most homes. For example, the National Association of Realtors publishes each year the Cost vs. Value Report with Remodeling Magazine, which features various home project costs and returns in four regions, including a national average.


Flooring Fixes


In my neighborhood, most of the homes were built in the late 1940s, which means the floors are original, hardwood oak. Wood floors are a hot item today, but preferences over the years have changed. Carpeting became popular -- like with lots of consumer products -- after somebody figured out how to get the government to pay for it. When vets returned home from WWII, housing was at a shortage. Homes were sold with newly installed carpeting because the cost for the carpeting could be rolled into government-insured (VA) loans.


Then carpeting became vogue in the 1960s. Some homes today, sadly, still sport '60's shag carpeting. The final movement away from hardwood happened when installing hardwood floors became too expensive. Plywood was easier to obtain and faster to install. Plus choices in carpeting were plenty. It's still relatively inexpensive to install carpeting.


Hardwood Floors

If your home has hardwood floors, that's what buyers want, and it would pay to have the carpeting removed and the floors refinished.


If your sub-floor is plywood, then replace the carpeting with light tan. Neutral carpeting is your best bet for resale.


Replace chipped or cracked tiles. Clean or replace the grout. But don't install ceramic (it's too expensive) unless it's for aesthetic reasons in an entry way.

Paint Ceilings & Walls


Buyers spend more time than you would think staring at ceilings. They are looking for signs of a leaky roof, but what you don't want them to see are stains from grease or smoke and ceiling cracks. Ditto for walls. Nothing says freshness like new paint, and it's the most cost effective improvement. Use fiberglass tape on large cracks, cover with joint compound and sand. Paint a neutral color such as light tan - think of coffee with cream.



It's not that all buyers hate wallpaper. They hate your wallpaper - because it's your personal choice, not theirs. And they hate all dated wallpaper. Get rid of it. The easiest way is to steam it off by using an inexpensive wallpaper remover steamer.

Wood paneling

Even if your wood paneling is not real wood but composite, you can paint it. Dated paneling must go. Older wood paneling such as walnut, mahogany, cedar and pine, it's all gone out of style. Paint it a neutral and soft color after priming it.

Textured ceilings

Older popcorn ceilings with the "sparkles" often contain asbestos and if disturbed are health hazards. Say goodbye to it. But even recently sprayed ceilings turn off buyers. It's not expensive but it is time consuming to remove. Lay down drop cloths and scrape it off. You will need to repaint.

Kitchen Improvements


Appliances and cabinets are typically the most expensive items to replace in a kitchen. If you don't have to replace them, you'll save a ton of money. However, if your cabinets are dated and beat-up, your house might not sell if the cabinets aren't replaced.


Kitchen remodels return nearly 100%. According to Remodeling Magazine, the high-end kitchens don't return as much as the mid-range or minor kitchen remodels. Most buyers won't pay extra for a built-in Sub Zero refrigerator, professional 8-burner stove, undermount sink or travertine floors. If you live in the Midwest, your return will be less than for those who live in other parts of the country.



Resurfacing is your best option. This involves attaching a thin veneer to the surface of the cabinets and replacing the doors and hardware . If your cabinets are painted, add a fresh coat of paint and new hardware.

Counter tops, sinks & faucets

Granite counters are not necessary. Simple laminates, newer faucets and sparkling sinks sell. Buyers don't want leaky faucets or stained sinks.



The national average of recouped cost is more than 100% for bathrooms. New floors, fixtures and lights payoff.


Roofs & Exterior


If your home needs a new roof, bite the bullet and do it. Even though most roofing tear-off jobs take one to two days, buyers shy away from buying a home if the roof needs to be replaced.


Patch cement cracks in sidewalks

Resurface asphalt driveways

Plant flowers

Caulk windows and doors

Replace doorknobs and locks

Fix or paint fences


Overall, buyers want to buy a home that has no deferred maintenance, newer appliances, updated plumbing, electrical and heating (including a/c), modern conveniences and is ready to occupy.

Home Repairs You Shouldn't Put Off

Posted by derek.larosa on April 3, 2013 at 11:05 PM Comments comments (0)


Caulk doesn't cost much, but it does an important job: keeping water out of places that it shouldn't be. Inspect your shower, tub and around all windows and doors on a regular basis for places that need to be recaulked. Then, get on it right away (fixing water damage costs a lot more.

Cleaning Your Dryer Vent

You probably clean your dryer's lint trap regularly, but when's the last time you cleaned out your dryer vent? If it's been more than a year, it's time to get to it. Too much build up can lead to a fire.

Roof Repairs

A leaky roof can lead to big problems – structural damage, mold, loss of personal property. It's nothing to mess with. Address roof leaks as soon as you discover them, and you'll save yourself a ton of cash.

Chimney Sweeping

You can put off a lot of cleaning tasks, but chimney cleaning isn't one of them. Hire a professional chimney sweep once a year to make sure your chimney is free of creosote, bird nests and other flammables.

Change Your HVAC Filter

Dirty air filters cause your HVAC system to work harder than it should and run up your utility bills. Extend the life of your HVAC unit (and keep more cash in your pocket) by replacing your filter once a month. Just $3 a month could save you thousands.

Pest Problems

Termites, carpenters ants, roaches, rodents – if they've taken up residence in your home, the time to deal with them is now. Waiting will only lead to more costly treatments and further damage to your home.

A Plumbing Leak

Big leak, small leak, any type of leak can do big damage to your home. Address all plumbing problems as soon as they arise. Then, learn how to keep your plumbing in tip top shape, so you have fewer problems going forward.

Peeling Paint

Fresh paint makes your house look nice, but it serves a more important purpose: keeping your house dry and rot-free. If the paint on your home is peeling off, it's time to go after it with a scraper and a paint can. If your home was built before 1978, you need to have your home tested for lead, before you do any scraping.

Drainage Problems

Clogged gutters, downspouts that don't direct away from the house, improper grading – there are lots of things that can lead to drainage problems around your house, and all of them put your home's foundation at risk and invite water indoors. Now (not later) is time to tackle those rainwater woes.


Posted by derek.larosa on February 20, 2013 at 4:45 PM Comments comments (0)

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