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Organizing for Hassle-Free Home Repairs 05.23.2013

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAWhen you least expect to spend time, money and energy on your home, something breaks and you need a repair – pronto!   Have you ever considered organizing spaces with an eye toward home repair professionals?  Often these service providers perform their work in living and storage spaces, such as bedrooms, linen closets, living rooms, home offices, basements or attics.

Whether you need the services of a plumber, electrician, mason, or drywall specialist, all trade professionals that work inside your home will need quick access to your space to get the job done.

This approach became crystal clear to me recently when I engaged with a contractor to fix a broken sewer pipe in our house.  This was not a pretty site.  Even though I consider my basement to be relatively well organized for an unfinished space, it was still imperative to move belongings away from the affected area to access and repair the broken pipe, which was conveniently (not!) located behind cinder blocks and under a cement slab.  Luckily, shelving units and boxed archive papers blocking access to the pipe could easily be relocated.  I also had to empty a small room of its entire contents in case the cement slab required demolition (thankfully not!).  As well, since we lost the use of two bathrooms for several days, this repair also required maximizing space in the one remaining operational bath for shared household use.

If your home requires immediate repairs, or you are considering a longer term home renovation project, be prepared for the work by reviewing and organizing zones in your home prior to repairs so you don’t incur additional hourly expenses if service providers have to spend additional time to move items.   Those of you who hire cleaning professionals know that for the best cleaning results, the cleaning crew must be able to access surfaces, get into corners, and around furniture.  Group and contain items where they are used so you can eliminate the weekly or bi-weekly chore of ‘cleaning for the cleaners’!

OLYMPUS DIGITAL CAMERAHere are some tips to consider to help streamline spaces that may be disrupted during maintenance work or if you have to quickly empty or prepare a room for repairs.

Plumbing Work – Consider where pipes are located in your home (bathrooms, kitchen, basement or crawl space).  Organize under-sink cabinets for easy removal and replacement of contents.  To prepare, empty the cabinet, sort items by category, purge unused items and store contents in open or covered bins that can be easily stacked and removed at a moment’s notice.   To maximize vertical space under a sink, consider using shelf dividers or 2-tiered pull out shelves for easy access.

Electrical Work – Consider household items that block access to wall outlets or switches, light fixtures, the electrical panel, or wiring located in unfinished spaces.  Can these items be easily relocated or shifted to gain access?  Furniture can be temporarily moved for access to wall outlets however piles of books, papers, or other belongings may obstruct easy flow.  Rethink the activities performed in your space and consider if they belong in that room or need to be removed and/or relocated (and are just creating clutter).  Use storage solutions that can easily be moved when required to support loose items, such as open baskets or small shelving or drawer storage units.

Drywall/Painting/HVAC Work – Create zones in storage areas so items can be easily identified, moved and replaced.  In linen, storage or utility closets, organize shelf contents by type or category to create zones (this also helps to learn a new organizing system).  Corral small or loose items (by category) in open or closed bins for easy access and label if necessary so other users can follow the system.  If clothing closets require access, keep a portable clothing rack in storage for temporary transfer of hanging clothes, if required.  Remove other items by category (shoes, handbags, accessories), and store in boxes or open bins in an accessible location for the duration of the repair work.  Seasonal transfer of clothing to storage bins will also minimize work required to prepare your space for workers.

IMG_0554For added incentive to stay on top of organizing systems in your home, batch and schedule home repairs seasonally and calendar time to review your zones (it won’t take long!).  This act of preparation gives you accountability to perform routine maintenance on all fronts, and when repairs are completed you have the added bonus of an organized space!

If you have a tried and true approach to minimizing home repair hassles, I’d love to hear about it!  Or if you are feeling overwhelmed by an upcoming renovation or repair project, contact me if you could use some new strategies.

Good Luck!

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