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Building & home maintenance: recommendations for home & building maintenance checklists, calendars, reminder services & data services. Here we list smartphone apps, computer software, books, & guides focused on defining and scheduling home and light commercial building mainteance chores.
The idea that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure is not new, nor is the idea that in the clamor for your attention by family, friends, work, email, and your car, remembering to change the furnace filter or clean the gutters is not always at the top of every homeowner's "to do" list. But for the women and men who inspect buildings for a living, bugs, leaks, and loose stuff can translate quickly into bucks, losses, and lawsuits. So a smart to-do reminder that lets you know about important tasks in time to avoid trouble is not a bad idea. Mark Healy from ZogDigital invited us to take a look at Allstate's Home Maintenance Reminder. Here is what we found.
Take a look at some of these free home maintenance reminder services and then read our review of one of them just below. Most of these tools are free. Several are found right here at InspectApedia.com.
Extensive "how to" data, no calendar reminder features. Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Lists safety defects across most home areas, components, systems, useful as an inspection guide, not a maintenance checklist.
Home maintenance reminder tools & checklists can be listed here at no cost; InspectApedia reserves the right to edit, review, list, not-list topics, products, services discussed at the InspectApedia.com website.
Allstate Home Maintenance Reminder - free reminder-calendar from Allstate Insurance
With countless programs and smartphone apps that serve to remind us of appointments & tasks we were invited to review a free online service provided by Allstate Insurance intended to improve home durability and safety and reduce home operating costs and damage by offering reminders of home maintenance chores.
At the Allstate Website (link above) you take three steps (in addition to actually doing the maintenance chore itself):
Register, including providing the company with your email address - which makes sense if you expect to be "reminded" later-on
Set reminder dates: edit a company-provided list of maintenance chores, setting the date on which you want to be reminded and adding optional notes such as contractor contact data. You can also add additional reminders on your own
Watch your email: you will receive notifications from the Allstate reminder program
The reminder service is set up to handle home or automobile maintenance chores but given that you can enter your own reminder items, you could add just about anything (Remember mom's birthday). .
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What's Good About the Allstate Reminder Website
Importance of building & home maintenance: the website provides some basic "how-to" for important home maintenance & safety tasks such as cleaning the gutters or checking fire extinguishers & smoke alarms
Free building maintenance scheduler & reminder calendar: the site offers a free reminder tool that will jog your memory when tasks you have scheduled are coming up. The reminder service lets you schedule a year's worth of reminders, along with notes such as the contact information for a service provider or contractor.
For people like me who don't much like being asked to register, even giving an email, just to see online information, my first reaction at seeing the Allstate Home Maintenance Reminder screen was not to click on "Get Started" so I clicked on the "Learn More" button instead.
The "Learn More" button displays a screen that says home or auto maintenance is a good idea. Nothing on the page was intriguing. But hidden in the small-print text are three links that we have pasted verbatim along with our comments just below.
Following the maintenance schedule - which displays a Home Maintenance Checklist. The "Checklist" mixes narrative with names of tasks ("Change your HVAC filter every 3 months" that in link-form display more explanatory information about each task. The tasks include items such as
Check Your Fire Extinguisher,
Clean Your Dryer Vent,
Clean Your Gutters,
Clean Your Washing Machine,
Maintain Your Generator,
Change Your Home Air Filter,
Inspect Your Roof,
Maintain Your Underground Sprinkler System,
Change Your Pool Filter,
Inspect Your Sump Pump,
Test Your Carbon Monoxide Alarm,
Test Your Home for Radon,
Test Your Smoke Alarms,
Trim Your Trees,
Maintain Your Water Heater.
This is not a maintenance schedule, it's a random walk list.
This is not even a checklist. Important items are missing: Air conditioner & heating systems lack detail - but then that may be up to you in writing your maintenance calendar - you'll be making your own list. Do you know how? Do you know what should be in it and at what priority and what schedule?
But even if you have all of these items (not everyone has an underground sprinkler or a swimming pool) there are some mistakes in the "list:
Some of the tasks (radon testing) are something you do once, not every year.
Other tasks seem to be missing, hard to find, inaccurately described,
No guidance is given for how to set a priority of choosing what things to do first when maintaining a home or other building.
Regular maintenance - which displays a photo of a cute girl hugging her car and suggests rotating your car's tires, changing the oil, and changing the air filter, wiper blades, brake pads &c; each of these links to more information to help you figure out if it's time.
Weak on Safety: the website text misses the chance to give some critical safety warnings. If you are telling a homeowner to clean her gutters, I'm a little scared to read the whole article and never see some basic safety warnings such as:
Watch out: falling off of a ladder causes many serious injuries and even fatalities every year. Don't get up on a ladder if you don't know safe ladder procedures or if you're not fit.
Allstate is an insurance company for pete's sake.
Lost in Space?
Website navigation could be better: click your way through to the gutter maintenance page and try finding a quick link back to the start of the system. No way. Just endless back-arrow clicking.
Try signing up and setting up your home and your first reminder. Check out the reminder "Frequency" setting - after all this is the key event, right?
The drop down menu presents some options with no obvious way to scroll down past 6 months - in other words, even as a computer expert with experience dating to 1965, I could not see how to schedule anything less frequent than at 6-month intervals.
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The Allstate home maintenance reminder website design, content, and navigation are ... well ... incomplete. Stay tuned; when the system is improved it might be a useful feature for folks who don't keep another electronic calendar for reminders.
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Books & Articles on Building & Environmental Inspection, Testing, Diagnosis, & Repair
Carson, Dunlop & Associates Ltd., 120 Carlton Street Suite 407, Toronto ON M5A 4K2. Tel: (416) 964-9415 1-800-268-7070 Email: email@example.com. The firm provides professional home inspection services & home inspection education & publications. Alan Carson is a past president of ASHI, the American Society of Home Inspectors. Thanks to Alan Carson and Bob Dunlop, for permission for InspectAPedia to use text excerpts from The Home Reference Book & illustrations from The Illustrated Home. Carson Dunlop Associates' provides extensive home inspection education and report writing material.
The Illustrated Home illustrates construction details and building components, a reference for owners & inspectors. Special Offer: For a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Illustrated Home purchased as a single order Enter INSPECTAILL in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
TECHNICAL REFERENCE GUIDE to manufacturer's model and serial number information for heating and cooling equipment, useful for determining the age of heating boilers, furnaces, water heaters is provided by Carson Dunlop, Associates, Toronto - Carson Dunlop Weldon & Associates Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on any number of copies of the Technical Reference Guide purchased as a single order. Just enter INSPECTATRG in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space.
The Home Reference Book - the Encyclopedia of Homes, Carson Dunlop & Associates, Toronto, Ontario, 25th Ed., 2012, is a bound volume of more than 450 illustrated pages that assist home inspectors and home owners in the inspection and detection of problems on buildings. The text is intended as a reference guide to help building owners operate and maintain their home effectively. Field inspection worksheets are included at the back of the volume.
Special Offer: For a 10% discount on any number of copies of the Home Reference Book purchased as a single order. Enter INSPECTAHRB in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
Special Offer: Carson Dunlop Associates offers InspectAPedia readers in the U.S.A. a 5% discount on these courses: Enter INSPECTAHITP in the order payment page "Promo/Redemption" space. InspectAPedia.com editor Daniel Friedman is a contributing author.
The Horizon Software System manages business operations,scheduling, & inspection report writing using Carson Dunlop's knowledge base & color images. The Horizon system runs on always-available cloud-based software for office computers, laptops, tablets, iPad, Android, & other smartphones