Saturday, February 25, 2012

Step 3 - Batten Down the Hatches

As I've mentioned before, people regularly stop by my projects and ask how I do what I do.  They tell me that they'd like to buy an old home to fix-up themselves or that they've dreamed about having a similar project of their own for years.   

There are steps I find myself repeating progressively with each Pig's Ear I buy.  As I have explained previously the first thing I always do before starting a project is take pictures (Step 1 - Pictures, Pictures, Pictures!).  However, after I take ownership I'm mindful of the need to make the buildings secure.  I make certain doors shut tightly and install my own locks if necessary.  I board up any broken windows and brace them or sliding glass doors so they can't be opened from the outside.  I don't want children from the neighborhood coming inside.  I don't need teenagers hanging out, having a party, and maybe making things worse.  And I'd prefer that curious folks in town come to see what things look like on the interior when I'm around to lead the tour.  

Besides people, I want to keep four legged visitors from coming inside as well.  In the past, I have found the remains of various wild and domesticated animals on my projects.  I never forget to keep in mind how intelligent animals are.  They know and remember where they can go to get dry and rest and I've had more than a few pets wander thru that seem just as curious as the people in the neighborhood.  Once, I neglected to seal the hole for the dryer vent and a friendly cat paid a visit in the middle of the night before it made itself at home and curled up in a ball at foot of my bed until morning.  So, make sure all openings in the exterior perimeter walls (large or small) are secure.

Now, it's obvious (yet worth mentioning) that if someone wants to get in badly enough they will.  That's why I don't stock the house with valuable tools and material on day-one.  I typically feel comfortable leaving behind equipment needed for interior cleanup and demolition such as shovels, my sledge hammer, a wheel barrow, ladders, and basic hand tools.  However, that's about it.

So, after you take pictures, mow and clean up the yard (see Step 2 - After the Pictures, Clean Things Up).  And once you become the property's owner, button things up immediately to discourage people (and critters) from coming into the house when you're not around.

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