Getting Your Home Winter-Ready

wintershovelWisconsin winters are not for the faint of heart.  Months and months of sub-zero temperatures can do serious damage to your home, not to mention your pocketbook, if you don’t prepare ahead of time.  Below are our Top 10 tips to winterize your home. Contact 4 Lakes Handyman if you need assistance with any of these or other home maintenance needs:

  1. Weatherstrip your doors and windows
  2. Install storm windows and storm doors
  3. Insulation your windows
  4. Shut-off the outdoor water
  5. Change your furnace filter
  6. Flush and insulate your water heater
  7. Cover your air conditioning unit
  8. Close your chimney flue
  9. Test your carbon monoxide detector and
  10. Clean out those gutters

Sofishticated Sellers

It has been a busy summer for 4 Lakes Handyman, and I’d like to thank all of you who have supported me in my new business.  It’s been a while since I’ve updated my blog and that is thanks to my amazing customers who are keeping me very occupied these past few months.  What has been the cause of all this work?  Well, the Dane County housing market is HOT, and this recent article from the WISC-TV Channel 3 Madison confirms it.

So, rather than spending my summer months leisurely fishing on Lake Mendota, I have been working tirelessly with both buyers and sellers on dozens of housing projects. I’ve met many first time home buyers who needed help taking care of a few items to spiffy up their new home before they moved it.  Items such as:

  • hanging cabinets and shelves
  • repairing damaged drywall
  • priming and painting
  • installing new shutters
  • upgrading old storm and entrance doors
  • upgrading electrical outlets, switches and wall plates
  • upgrading ceiling fans and light fixtures
  • installing toilets, bathroom vanities, sinks and faucets
  • mounting TV’s in the perfect spot

And, even though this is a seller’s market, many of my customers are requesting quick repairs either before or after inspection.  In a seller’s market, you don’t need to spend thousands of dollars on repairs, but, a home that needs a lot of noticeable repairs will deliver a lower price. Here are just a few quick and low dollar items you should address before putting your home on the market:

  • patch holes and cracks in walls and ceilings.
  • fix broken appliances and HVAC systems.
  • repair leaky faucets.
  • replace worn or stained carpeting.
  • repaint dark or marred walls with neutral paint (not white).
  • replace broken window glass.
  • change out any dated light fixtures or ceiling fans
  • update your hardware on kitchen cabinets.
  • replace old drapes and window coverings.
  • upgrade the front door and add storm doors, it’s the first thing a potential buyer sees!

Many of these projects are things you can easily do, but if you don’t have the time or energy, call or email 4 Lakes Handyman for help.

(608) 598-0554

Springtime for Scammers

Spring in Madison is finally here! Time to get the bikes out

Spring has finally sprung here in Wisconsin! With 60 degree days and more hours of sunshine, the outside repair projects and yard cleanup around my house are in full swing.

The other project that seems to be in full swing are the door-to-door sales calls. Now, I’m not talking about the Girl Scout cookie sales calls. Those are legit and fantastic! Who doesn’t like to eat an entire sleeve of Thin Mints in one sitting?

I’m talking about those people who come around with high pressure sales, offering to do your yard work, gutter cleaning, roof/siding/driveway/fence repairs, tree trimming, install alarm systems, etc. You name it, dishonest people still use the old fashioned door-to-door techniques to steal from you.

In a door-to-door scam, the con artist knocks on your door and offers a repair service by convincing you to pay CASH UP FRONT for a service. This method is used frequently on seniors because this generation of good people were raised to be courteous and trusting, and are unfortunately easy targets. Many seniors fall prey to scammers with this because they do not want to be perceived as rude.
So, how can we all protect ourselves and our loved ones from door-to-door scams? Follow these helpful tips offered by the Better Business Bureau of Wisconsin:

1. Never respond to unsolicited offers of service. If someone is pressuring you at your door, ask the person to leave their information and you will get back with them. This will give you time to verify their credentials.

2. If someone knocks on your door with a great deal, let them know you are going to shop around and check their company information.

3. Obtain several bids IN WRITING for repairs and service work on your home. This allows you time to make a thoughtful decision and gives you a paper trail in case problems arise with the work.

4. If you need services or repairs to your property, schedule appointments with contractors; never let anyone into your home unless you have an appointment.

5. When you are verifying credentials, look up the company’s contact information in the phone book or online. Do not use the number on the individual’s business card, as it may be fake.

6. If you live alone, NEVER share this information with an unsolicited visitor.

7. Never give cash to door-to-door people who are offering a service or demanding payment and report suspicious activity to your local law enforcement agency.

At 4 Lakes Handyman, we always offer FREE WRITTEN estimates for our repair services, and we always schedule an appointment that fits with your schedule. For added financial safeguards, we accept credit card payments. 4 Lakes Handyman is certified by the Association for Certified Handyman Professionals.

For more information on how we can help you with your spring to-do list, call or email us today!

21 Steps for Age-Proofing Your Home

If you read last month’s blog (and I know you did), you learned my motivation for becoming a handyman. As a caregiver to a disabled adult and aging parents, my desire is to help people live safely and independently in their homes.

According to the AARP, 90 percent of seniors want to stay in their homes as they grow older. My mother-in-law was one of these seniors; however, she found as she aged that her home in Madison, built in 1934, was not really designed for her declining mobility issues.  Tight corners, uneven thresholds, steep stairs and a narrow bathroom made keeping her safe in her home more difficult with each passing year. When she underwent emergency gall bladder surgery, a team of occupational therapists came into the home and made a list of modification suggestions for her release.

But no one was available to help make these modifications quickly. So, after hopping on a flight from Denver, and rallying the support of my in-laws, adjustments were made to mom’s home so that she could recover in the place she was comfortable.

So, this month’s blog is about age-proofing your home. Reduced eyesight, reduced flexibility, and balance issues hit us all around the age of 45 to 50, right? Well, age-proofing your home can and should start around this time. Don’t wait until a fall happens to make modifications, instead, do these changes now. And remember, age-proofing is not about an expensive remodel to your house. It’s about simple changes we all can make. Some of these may require a small investment of money, but it’s worth it for your safety.

Below are 21 suggestions for age proofing your home, which will help reduce the risks of injuries, improve your quality of life and give you many more years in your home.

Installing Carpet over hardwood floors Living Room:

1. Replace bulbs with brighter, longer lasting LED’s to illuminate stairs and bathrooms

2. Raise electrical outlets further from the ground and lower switches

3. Install low-pile commercial carpet instead of tile or concrete floors


4. Reduce the risk of fires by installing smart devices/motion detectors to turn off appliances

5. Have your smoke detectors checked once per year and change batteries

6. Install an induction cooktop, which stays cooler than traditional heating elements

7. Install bottom kitchen shelves that slide out

Stairs and Halls:

8Carpeting on Stairs. For steps without carpeting, add non-skid adhesive or grippers to reduce risk of slipping

9. If stairs are carpeted, make sure carpeting is secure

10. Mount handrails on both sides of stairs and hallway

11. Install a motorized stair lift


12. If your bed is too high, remove the bedframe or install lower profile mattress/box spring

13. If your bed is too low, insert bed risers

14. Place lamps within easy reach of bed

15. Consider purchasing an adjustable bed



16. Grab bar in a showerInstall grab bars in your tub and shower

17. Use bathmats and rugs with non-slip backing

18. Purchase a walk in tub or shower to reduce the risk of slips and falls


Garage and Basement

19.Paint the bottom step to the basement or garage a different color to distinguish it from the floor

20. Install bright lighting everywhere, especially walkways and staircases

21. Install sturdy railings (ideally two) for the steps



I hope you found these tips helpful, and as always, if you need help with any making any of these modifications, give us a call!

From Caring…to Repairing

My wife keeps reminding me that February is Valentine’s Day. A month for chocolate, and, you know, showing love and care for others.

Which got me thinking about why I started this business as a handyman. I mean, lots of guys are handy around the house…why quit your job and start a business doing this? Let me explain…

I’m a caregiver. 

For the last two years, my wife, Amy and I commuted between Denver, Colorado and Madison, Wisconsin in order to care for Amy’s aging mother and disabled brother. In January 2016, my mother-in-law lost her battle to cancer, leaving us as full-time caregivers for Amy’s brother, Chris.

Chris is 40-years old and has Down syndrome. His photo is on my About Us page. Chris lives with us in our Madison home, and we take care of all his daily living and socialization needs.  He is a pure joy to be around, but, let’s be honest, being a caregiver for an adult who has the cognitive capacity of a three-year old is a task that many cannot comprehend.

This post from The Caregiver Space has some funny images that really sum up for me what it feels like to be a caregiver. (I can especially relate to that monkey on the computer).

While we are rewarded each and every day, we are also challenged to find time for ourselves, to find balance in our lives and our marriage, and to discover peace with the many sacrifices we made to become caregivers.

So this leads me to – why did I start my handyman business then?  Two reasons:

First, when Amy’s dad passed away in 2011, her mom’s home quickly declined into a state of disrepair and deferred maintenance. Then, when my mother-in-law transitioned into a wheelchair, we discovered that many adaptations were needed to keep her living independently and safely.  Unfortunately, what we experienced was extreme difficulty finding anyone we could trust who could provide handyman services in a timely and consistent manner.

Madison’s average single-family home value are currently at historic highs.

Why was this happening? Well, have you noticed the apartment and construction boom in Madison? This means contractors are extremely busy. No one would respond to our calls, and the ones who did had month-long wait-lists.  They just didn’t have time for small jobs when the big construction and home remodeling jobs were taking their time.

Does this sound familiar?

Well, hang on cause this trend is not changing. According to Angie’s List, record remodeling is expected throughout 2017, meaning Madison area contractors and home remodeling pros will remain swamped with bigger projects.

When my mother-in-law passed away in January 2016, Amy and I moved permanently back to Madison and became primary guardians and caregivers for Chris. Needless to say, we found out quickly that the two of us working traditional 9-5 jobs wasn’t going to cut it.  When you are a caregiver, there are so many needs, so many tasks and responsibilities, that finding the time to address the maintenance needs of a home is an overwhelming task. Something has to give.

So that brings me to my second reason for opening my business. Being in the handyman business allows me the flexibility to remain a caregiver for Chris, in order to keep him living safely in his childhood home, all while helping others in my community retain the independent living they so desire.

Steve with his wife, Amy, brother-in-law, Chris, and nephew, Casey cheering on the Badgers!

If this is where you are in your life, let 4 Lakes Handyman help! 

I know… I’ve been there, and I am still there.