Home Maintenance: Run Your Home So It Doesn’t Run You

Taking care of your home and managing home maintenance may seem like an arduous task, but think about this: If you run your home so it doesn’t run you, you won’t have to take care of it so much. When we keep up on the little things, they don’t turn into big repairs. There is a saying: An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure. And this is definitely true when it comes to home maintenance.

Proper Home Maintenance Provides Opportunities

It can be kind of overwhelming to think about home maintenance. That’s because the average home has about 75 different components in it that we need to keep track of. That means maintenance and warranty information. Fortunately, much of that maintenance is pretty simple to manage, but you do need to know how to do it all correctly so you don’t damage anything.

Keeping track of home maintenance is not only helpful, it could also provide some opportunities to uplevel. Every time you maintain, repair, or replace anything in your home, you have the opportunity to make it better. You can do something that’s easier to take care of, needs less maintenance, is more durable, or is more energy efficient. When you have to do any home maintenance, think of it as a good thing. Because then you can make your home even better.

Keep Those User Manuals

Are you the kind of person who keeps owner’s manuals? Or do they immediately go in the recycling bin? Having easy access to those manuals can make home maintenance so much easier. If you don’t have a file with them, most manuals are accessible online on the manufacturer’s website. These are great for maintenance as well as ordering replacement parts.

Tools Help with Home Maintenance

The #1 tool I recommend is my book, Living Green Effortlessly: Simple Choices for a Better Home. There’s a whole chapter in there about home maintenance. Plus, you’ll find a checklist that’s pretty cool.

We also have a home inventory and maintenance tool, HomeNav. This segments your home maintenance work, helping you stay more organized. With a little time, you can inspect. Some more time will allow you to maintain. And with a lot of time, you can do a weekend warrior project and do an overhaul or upgrade. It’s also seasonal, which helps as well.

Be sure to visit greenhomecoach.com to download 10 ways to make your home healthier, more efficient, and durable.


Living Green Effortlessly

10 Ways You Can Get Green Now

Everyday Green Home


Listen to the podcast or read the full transcript below.

This is Marla, the green home coach, and today we want to talk at that taking care of your home. That sounds so fun, doesn’t it? But think about this: if you take care of your home so it’ll take care of you, you don’t have to take care of it as much. Okay, kind of a roundabout riddle, but all that stuff that we do to maintain it, keep it up, really does pay us back because then we don’t have the big calamities, and the big repairs, and all the big stuff that comes out. So, you know, what was it they say? That an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and it definitely is that way with your home.

So you know, when you start thinking about maintenance, it’s kind of overwhelming because the average home has about 75 different components in it that we need to track maintenance and warranty information for. Fortunately, we don’t have to do a lot to take care of all that, like your wood floors usually don’t need a lot of maintenance except to be kept clean. But, you do need to know how to do that properly so you don’t damage the finish, and you also may want to have access to the warranty information should something need to be corrected with it. Maybe there’s a dent or a ding and you need to have that looked at.

So, having that information is super, super helpful in a home, be it new, be it a newly purchased home, be an existing home, or when you just remodeled or redecorated, all those new components we bring into the home, we have to know how to take care of them. Herein lies the challenge. Because as you take care of your home, you have an exquisite opportunity to uplevel it. So every time you maintain, repair, or replace anything in your home, you have an opportunity to make a better decision, a decision that is easier to take care of, and less maintenance, and more durable, or maybe it’s more energy or water efficient. Maybe it’s better chemically. It doesn’t have as many pollutants in it. So take a moment, whenever you are doing your routine maintenance, and repairs, and replace, to think about what you use to repair, maintain, and replace. So, enough on that commercial.

So, you do need user manuals, right? I know, that sounds so fun. Not. But, having a handy dandy user manual can make that maintenance so much more easy, so much quicker. You didn’t keep that paper manual that came in the box, that’s okay. Almost all of them can be found online now on the manufacturer’s websites. They’re pretty easy to find. A lot of websites for manufacturers have model pages with all of the information that you may need for the specific model or type of equipment, or flooring, or whatever other component in your home you may need more information and more help on. So, go check it out online.

There’s also some handy dandy tools that I can tell you about to help make this a little bit easier. So number one is in my book, Living Green Effortlessly: Simple Choices for a Better Home. We’ve got a whole chapter on maintenance. Matter of fact, a lot of this chapter was taken from our home inventory and maintenance tool HomeNav. So, you have an opportunity in my book to have all that information right there in book format, and we have a really pretty cool checklist in there that I’m excited about. We have partnered with another organization to bring this to you, but it has a really neat way of segmenting your maintenance work. So if you just have a little bit of time, you can inspect. You have a little bit more time, you can maintain. If you have a lot more time, you can do a weekend warrior project and overhaul something or upgraded. So, kind of a different way to look at your maintenance projects, and it’s seasonal. So, that really helps, too, because I look at things by season.

In addition to that, you might want to go to greenhomecoach.com and download the 10 ways to make your home healthier, more efficient, and durable. There are some great tips in here to help you maintain and upgrade your home as you go. So, listen on. The podcast coming up next has a lot more tips about how to live greener and maintain your home in a way that allows you to have that easier lifestyle that you’ve been dreaming of in your home. So let your home take care of you. Listen to the podcast Running Your Home so It Doesn’t Run You, and you’ll get a lot more ideas. Have a great day.

Marla:                                   It’s the Green Gab podcast with Marla Esser Cloos, the Green Home Coach. Good morning, afternoon, whatever time of day it is, Tony.

Tony:                                     How you doing, Marla? It’s Tony Pratte with the Sound Room.

Marla:                                   Hey, it’s a good day when we’re here, right?

Tony:                                     It’s always a good day to podcast.

Marla:                                   Hey, you know, podcasting is our thing. We don’t get to do it enough though, with this new format that we’re block recording now.

Tony:                                     Yeah, I know. It’s the down side of it, but you know, what are you going to do?

Marla:                                   I know.

Tony:                                     We both live in different markets-

Marla:                                   Different cities.

Tony:                                     Different cities, you know, we both have busy lives and it’s just easier sometimes to come in, do a bunch of recordings and release them on target every few weeks.

Marla:                                   I gotcha. It’s a matter of training us. Ha ha ha. Because today, we’re going to talk about home owner and building owner training.

Tony:                                     Very nice, very nice.

Marla:                                   But before I go there, I want to give a shout-out, before we come into Shock City Studios to record, so that’s my first shout-out, to Sam and all the team here at Shock City Studios, because they do a great job here in St. Louis and we love coming in. Thank you for everything you do for us. But I also want to give a shout out to The Egg-

Tony:                                     Oh, yes.

Marla:                                   Where we eat, we always have a little prep and planning session before we record, and we go, it’s in the same building. It’s a small little restaurant that does breakfast and lunch, and we’ve just been delighted with them.

Tony:                                     It is so delicious, too. If you’re ever down in this area in St. Louis, 2200 Gravois, The Egg. It’s wonderful. Breakfast and lunch.

Marla:                                   And that was an unsolicited plug. We just really like this place, so we want to share it for any of you that are in St. Louis.

Tony:                                     Any day we record, seriously, we eat there. We’ve pretty much had everything on the menu. It’s so convenient, too.

Marla:                                   So we’ve been trained.

Tony:                                     It’s all about developing proper habits.

Marla:                                   There you go. Well, and man, habits and training. You couldn’t have done a better segue if I had paid … Oh, wait.

Tony:                                     Yeah, I don’t get paid for this.

Marla:                                   Yeah. So, as one of our continuing educations about all of the different components and parts of a green home and what goes into it, there’s this last area, or first area in my mind, about home owner and building owner training, documentation, and resources. And while this sounds a little dry, folks, this is a big deal. Because when you get a new car, first place you go is your owner’s manual.

Tony:                                     Oh, absolutely.

Marla:                                   How many times have you gotten an owner’s manual with your home or your apartment or your condo?

Tony:                                     You know, it’s becoming a little bit more prevalent, but still not that much, especially if you’re buying an existing home.

Marla:                                   Yeah.

Tony:                                     If you’re buying a brand new home, built maybe last year or two, I think you might get something depending on the builder.

Marla:                                   But they’re pretty rudimentary.

Tony:                                     Yes, very basic.

Marla:                                   Mine, when we got our new house, ours, it was helpful. I’ve looked at it a few times, but it’s not nearly as filled out and fleshed out as it could be.

Tony:                                     Right. And think about it too, these houses are getting smarter.

Marla:                                   Oh, yeah.

Tony:                                     They’re getting more complicated to run. It’s no longer something you can just breeze through and do really fast, but the trick is, if you don’t operate the house properly, you’re not going to get the benefits out of all the new technology that’s put into the house.

Marla:                                   Or the house itself.

Tony:                                     Yes.

Marla:                                   Okay, I know a lot of gentlemen I know aren’t real prone to reading directions all the time, but us ladies typically are a little bit more in tune with that. [inaudible], hey, just difference between the way we are wired, right? But, you get an awful lot of information when you are moving into a home, be it an existing home or a new home. You’re overwhelmed with how much information there is, and you don’t start realizing what you need to know, you just don’t know what you don’t know. So as you start living in the house and experiencing what life is like in the house, now your home, you start figuring out, “Oh, how do I do that? Oh, what about this? Oh, I need that.”

That’s when having that education and that training and hopefully some sort of a guide to reflect back on and to find things, really comes in play. Let’s see, we’ve been in our home since end of September, so October, November, December, January, February, so five months. I know, I had to count that, that’s pretty sad today. Five months. And we still have one more warranty, our one year warranty coming up. So we kind of keep a running list, but we’re still bumping into things pretty regularly. Like we’re having to fine tune or figure out.

Tony:                                     But that’s kind of expected.

Marla:                                   It is expected.

Tony:                                     That’s why most builders will do the one month walk-

Marla:                                   The walk-through. And they do a walk-through.

Tony:                                     The one year walk-through, just to get that list of what needs to be fine tuned a little bit. It’s interesting, because I read an article this weekend, like you talked about, kind of acquiring all that information and making that list of what’s not right. Well, there was an interesting article in USA Today over the weekend about smart homes.

Marla:                                   Uh-oh, up your alley.

Tony:                                     Exactly. Especially if you’re buying a pre-existing home, you might have had a home owner that sits there and likes to tinker. Or even if you’re buying a high performance home or a home that has advanced automation in it. There’s some new things you have to worry about. I mean, this article was hysterical, because the home owner thought there was an issue with their thermostat.

Marla:                                   Oh, I see this one coming, as a Nest owner.

Tony:                                     Every time she would go to set the thermostat at 70 degrees, it would reset itself to 80 degrees. Come to find out, it was a pre-existing home and the old home owner, in his house, kept trying to set the thermostat on his phone, not realizing that the thermostat was tied to his old house.

Marla:                                   Has an app.

So, he must have had a direct connection, because my Nest was tied in through the WiFi network. So when I shut down my WiFi network, it shut down that link.

Tony:                                     But that’s a Nest.

Marla:                                   Yeah, but I guess with a WiFi enabled thermostat-

Tony:                                     Every other one that I deal with on my phone-

Marla:                                   Was direct-

Tony:                                     I’ve got five different display homes on my phone that I can log right into their house and change whatever I want. It has nothing to do with being on the network, because it ties to the controller.

Marla:                                   Oh my gosh, yeah.

Tony:                                     The controller, it’s that added layer of security, but now all of a sudden, if you don’t realize that, you’re controlling the wrong house.

Marla:                                   So now, in addition to learning how to operate … Okay, folks, don’t get wigged out. Because this is a good problem to have, because we have these wonderful apps and technology to help us. When we can’t do it with our behavior, the apps will help us do it automatically. So that, I love. Love, love, love, love. But, it is one more thing we’re going to have to remember when you’re transferring a house to a new owner.

Tony:                                     Mm-hmm (affirmative), absolutely.

Marla:                                   And I know when I sold my condo here in St. Louis, I actually invited the new owner … I’m kind of going above and beyond the two realtors just talking to each other. I’m like, “I want to talk to her,” and I extended an invitation through her realtor and she responded.

I said, “I’d like to invite you to come out to the house, the condo, and let me walk you through and show you where everything is and how everything functions.”

Tony:                                     That’s a good idea.

Marla:                                   Because, when I bought that place, nobody did that for me, and it took me months to figure out things. I was discovering things for ages. I found extra flooring, I found the light bulbs, I found the past guy that had serviced the heating and air conditioning. I had to figure out on my own how the sump pumps worked, and just all of this. So I thought, okay, if there’s one thing I can do, I’m in the business too, so I should serve at a higher level.

So I invited her over and we walked through the house for about an hour. I showed her how everything functioned. I don’t know how much she retained, but I said, “Here’s my phone number. If you have any questions, just call. I can tell you what’s going on.”

Tony:                                     Yup, we do a lot of that with builders we work with, especially if it’s a spec home or a market home. We’ll wire it, and then when they sell it, we’ll walk the house with the home owner so they know what technologies are in the house, where everything is.

Marla:                                   Right. And we do that with HomeNav as well.

Tony:                                     And we’ll also get real estate agents that will call us to meet their client out to a house because they just bought it and they noticed there’s technology in the house, but they don’t even know where to start.

Marla:                                   What it is, yeah.

Tony:                                     And it could be something as, somebody had a home theater and you see all the wires, and there’s some pieces there but not enough to make it work. How do you get it up and running? So you find an expert like us to go do that.

Marla:                                   Yikes.

Well, hey, you know, there’s a lot of different ways to tackle these things. As we dive into our next segment, we’re really going to talk about the kinds of things you want to make sure you get trained on in your home, or if you are the builder or the remodeler or somebody delivering the home, what you should do. And then we also want to talk about how that ties into your maintenance and operations, and talk about other resources that might be available to help you as you are learning how to operate your house. Because once you’ve got this structure, it can be as great as everything in the world, but if you don’t keep it great and know how to operate it great, you’re kind of at a loss.

So that’s really what we want to help you all figure out today. We’ve got some further topics to dig in a little bit more, but let’s take a quick break, a real breather here for a moment, and we’ll be back.

Marla:                                   Gabbing about home training, or I’m trying to think of a better way to put this. How about learning your home, training from your home.

Tony:                                     It’s home owner operation and training.

Marla:                                   I know, but that’s boring, we’ve got to come up with a better name.

Tony:                                     I know. But it is what it is.

Marla:                                   Okay. Well, all you folks out there listening, we’re going to talk to you about how to run your home, how to get trained on it.

Tony:                                     How to drive the house.

Marla:                                   Oh, there you go, driving your home.

Tony:                                     Driving your home, there you go.

Marla:                                   Okay, we got a title, driving your home. Woo-hoo.

So, we’d talked about all these reasons you need to drive your home, why it’s such a big deal. And I will say, with a green home, it’s important in any home, right?

Tony:                                     Mm-hmm (affirmative), absolutely.

Marla:                                   But with a green home-

Tony:                                     Especially important.

Marla:                                   And a green-certified home, it’s required. Well, basic parts are required and it depends which version, how new the version of the certification program is you’re using. But in some versions, it is required to have that training.

Tony:                                     Well, it should be, too, because there’s so much that goes into building a green home, a certified home, if the home owner doesn’t know how to use it it’s like giving them a brand new Ferrari, throwing them the keys and saying, “Good luck.”

Marla:                                   Yeah, “Bye.”

Tony:                                     I mean, that’s just not how it works. You have to know exactly how to work the house to get the biggest benefits out of it.

Marla:                                   Well, that’s true for anything.

Tony:                                     You will not hear me arguing this point.

Marla:                                   I know, but we do take it for granted with our homes, that we’re just going to pop in there and figure it out.

Tony:                                     Right.

Marla:                                   And what we’re suggesting is, don’t just figure it out. There’s tons of resources available.

Tony:                                     What worked 40 years ago doesn’t work today.

Marla:                                   Well, I don’t know that it even worked 40 years ago.

Tony:                                     I think it did.

Marla:                                   Maybe.

Tony:                                     For somebody that was handy.

Marla:                                   No, I mean, in our house … I had a house in … Oh gosh, I bought my first house when I was in my 20s, and that was a while ago. Several decades ago, and there was still-

Tony:                                     I wasn’t going to say anything.

Marla:                                   No, it’s fine, it’s fine. You know I’m a senior citizen. Just a fun senior citizen, what can I say? Any rate …

Tony:                                     Continue.

Marla:                                   I had so many things in that home that I had to figure out on my own, and it was an older home. It was a 1930s era home, and a lot of things had been updated, but some things were still creaky and tweaky from the ’30s. So, it’s, I think true for any home, and that training is a way for you to better understand it. It’s just like training for anything else, and better understanding what’s going on in your body or an exercise program or your nutrition or your vehicle. All of that. Training allows us to do things in the way it was intended and get full effect and full benefit.

Tony:                                     And the newer homes we’re seeing, for the most part, a lot of them do have some manual, even if it’s rudimentary, it’s basic.

Marla:                                   Yeah, it’s basic. But there’s something.

Tony:                                     But still, that’s only a small percentage of the housing stack out there that sells.

Marla:                                   And gosh, I tried with HomeNav to get realtors interested in it, and it just wasn’t the time. But you know, it might be now.

Tony:                                     But if you’re looking at a pre-existing house, what do you do?

Marla:                                   Yeah.

Tony:                                     Isn’t that the next question? How do you ask for this? How do you accumulate it?

Marla:                                   It’s easy to do. So here’s the kinds of things that you want to make sure that you’re being trained on if you’re the person living in the home, or the things that you’re training on if you’re the builder. The realtor really should be able to help do it, but somebody needs to train the person coming into that home or that building.

Heating and cooling filters, number one. There’s nothing you can do more important to maintain a good indoor air quality in your home or building.

Tony:                                     And that’s got to be one of the easiest.

Marla:                                   Not really.

Tony:                                     Changing the filter?

Marla:                                   Our new house, they’re in the ceiling.

Tony:                                     Really?

Marla:                                   Because they run their duct work through the attic.

Tony:                                     Oh, yeah. But you’re in a goofy market.

Marla:                                   I know, I’m in a goofy market.

So that’s one. The one you were talking about earlier, thermostat. Not only how to operate it, but how to program it.

Tony:                                     How to program it, how to change the batteries. The simple maintenance of it.

Marla:                                   Or just cheat and get a Nest or one of the other learning thermostats. But even so, you still have to figure out how to get it set up.

Tony:                                     Yes.

Marla:                                   So, somebody needs to show you how to do that.

Lighting controls. Okay, not such a big deal when we have the rocker switches, but, this is right up your alley.

Tony:                                     But. Now you have homes, and this is really going to be prevalent, I think in the next five years, you have homes that have controlled lighting scenes. Whether you’re controlling it off an app, it’s something simple and it’s all based in the cloud, or the house has a smart home processor somewhere in it and everything is tied together. You know, everybody uses the term control.

Marla:                                   Well, heck, you can buy a light bulb that you can control with an app now.

Tony:                                     Right. So, there’s the difference. Control is just simple, turn it on, turn it off on your phone. Automation means that light bulb, that light switch, talks to other types of devices that are-

Marla:                                   And you can schedule it, right?

Tony:                                     You can schedule it, you can create scenes, you can do the if/then statements.

Marla:                                   Right.

Tony:                                     If this happens, then that happens. But these are all things people need to learn how to use, because if you don’t, then you’re just going to walk up to it and turn it on, turn it off, and you’re not going to gain any of the benefits for it.

Marla:                                   So, back to that article you found, now that there’s enough things in our homes that we can retrofit or put in new that are app-controlled, make sure if there’s apps running that house, that they’re part of the training as well.

Tony:                                     Oh, absolutely.

Marla:                                   Wow, wouldn’t it be really nice if you helped the new owner get the apps on their phone or on their iPad or their tablet or whatever.

Tony:                                     Well, and typically that’s what we do. We have a builder here in St. Louis that does have a smart controller in every house, and they’ll have a couple options that come with the house, so the minute they move in, they set up their utilities. We’re out there, showing them how to program their phone, showing them how to turn things on, how to set things up, and teaching them the right way to use it. It’s just part of the process.

Marla:                                   So, if you keep going, fan controls, in a similar vein to lights.

Tony:                                     Absolutely.

Marla:                                   And, teach people about putting them in reverse for winter. Like, we run ours in reverse because our air is delivered from the ceiling, so we need to run that fan backwards to push the air down the walls into the room. Otherwise, it all stays at the top in the ceiling. So that’s what running your fan backwards in the winter does, it pushes that hot air, and hot air rises anyway-

Tony:                                     Yes, it does.

Marla:                                   So, it pushes that hot air back into the room. We just run ours on the lowest speed, so we don’t feel the draft. It just moves the air down.

Tony:                                     Okay, that’s a good idea, it’s a very good idea.

Marla:                                   Any rate. So there’s my tip of the day. But, understanding how to put the fan in reverse, how to put it back in forward, how to adopt the speed, if there’s a remote, if there’s an app, because now we’re seeing a lot of app-controlled fans, too.

Tony:                                     Yeah, there are a lot of app-controlled fans, but what we’re finding is, the ones that the builder provides, usually there’s some type of a little issue. They don’t talk, because the builders never had to think about this yet.

Marla:                                   As a system.

Tony:                                     As a system.

Marla:                                   And that’s where you guys come in, but we’ll talk more about that later.

Tony:                                     Yeah, that’s another podcast.

Marla:                                   Water heater. That’s another one you want to be trained on.

Tony:                                     That’s a big one.

Marla:                                   Not only how to access it should you need to drain it, which you should do once a year. Most of us don’t do it. How to control the settings, and if there’s a vacation setting on it, how to operate that. And if it’s not an electronic ignition or an electric heater, how to relight the pilot. But some basics like that.

Tony:                                     Once again, a lot of hot water heaters, they’re app-controllable now. They’re tied to the WiFi.

Marla:                                   Yeah. I don’t have one yet. Like, I need to get in and turn my water heat, the temperature down, because it’s too high. But it took us a while to figure that out.

Tony:                                     Right.

Marla:                                   So, now that we’ve kind of figured it out, we can play with it.

Tony:                                     Probably because you’re guessing and nobody showed you how to …

Marla:                                   Yeah, yeah.

Tony:                                     Here’s the manual.

Marla:                                   And they showed us the basics when we moved in, but man, I mean, you’re getting so much in two hours.

Tony:                                     Yeah, you get bombarded.

Marla:                                   So, the last thing that is required in the certification practices for training is recycling practices. What recycling is available in the home, in the neighborhood, when recycling pick-up is. Just a way to enforce, or not enforce, encourage-

Tony:                                     Encourage.

Marla:                                   I won’t enforce today. But encourage people to recycle, and for them to know what resources are around to help them do that.

Tony:                                     Right.

Marla:                                   So those are the required things. But if you think about it, what are some other things that would be really helpful to be trained on?

Tony:                                     Well, any system that goes in that house, you really need to know. We share similar clients, and we work on some of these very advanced high performance homes. In a situation like that, we’re teaching them on how to use all the electronics in the house.

Marla:                                   Yeah.

Tony:                                     I mean, you’ve got appliances now a days that you can tie to the house remotely and make them communicate with other devices in the house. You have your audio/video systems, your security systems, you have your, we like to call environmental control. That’s your lights, your thermostat, your locks. Basically, anything that goes in that house now, you almost need to be instructed on things outside of the basics.

Marla:                                   We have more than basics, now.

Tony:                                     Absolutely.

Marla:                                   But here’s the deal, too, is that I had the opportunity to really spend some time with Insinkerator, who makes, the leading maker of garbage disposers. When we were at the builder’s show in January, they were showing us how to properly maintain your garbage disposer. Sorry, I have to get the words right. Duh, I mean, like, “Wow, I’ve been running a garbage disposer all my life, and they taught me new things.”

So even the mundane things like, they were teaching me the way to clean your garbage disposer is fill it full of ice and run it for a minute.

Tony:                                     Oh, interesting.

Marla:                                   You can put a slice of lemon in there to refresh it. But if you go to Insinkerator’s site, they have all these tips for you. I’m like, “I didn’t know that.”

So even the mundane is something that we can help people operate it better so that it’s a better living environment for them.

Tony:                                     Think of refrigerators.

Marla:                                   Oh my gosh, it changed so much.

Tony:                                     GE and Whirlpool, I’m going to use these two examples, because I know they’re building them now with the software to integrate with Alexa. All right?

So now, they can tell you when you’re low on something. But you need to know how to operate it-

Marla:                                   How to set it up.

Tony:                                     And how to set it up so it would work. If somebody’s not teaching you, then that’s a feature that has no benefit to anybody, because I don’t know how to use it.

Marla:                                   I know. So let’s take a quick break, and when we come back, we’re going to talk about how to get this training. If you’re watching the Facebook Live and you want to know how, contact us and we’ll fill you in, because the podcast won’t be out for a little while. We’ll be right back.

Marla:                                   Okay, we’re back, talking about driving your home.

Tony:                                     I like that.

Marla:                                   I think it works.

Tony:                                     Yeah, it does.

Marla:                                   How to drive your home.

Tony:                                     Driving means operating.

Marla:                                   It just makes me think of Driving Miss Daisy. I was watching that movie last week.

Tony:                                     A driver’s license is an operator’s license.

Marla:                                   Well, there you go. Okay, see. Fair enough, fair enough.

So we talked about all these things that you need to know how to function with them, how to set them up, how to operate them, how to program them. There’s a lot of different options that could be used for actually getting that information from the person that has it to the person that needs it, the actual training itself. Obviously one way is for the builder, the realtor, the owner, to physically walk through with the person needing to be trained. And that’s what a lot of the people, I do, actually do.

Tony:                                     And then the home owner can sit there and make their notes as they go.

Marla:                                   Yeah. And for my clients that use HomeNav, and we set up HomeNavs for them, several of them take the home owner through the house with HomeNav. So they’ll have a tablet with HomeNav up on it, and as they’re walking through the house, they show them where the stuff is in HomeNav.

So for you guys that are listening in and don’t know what HomeNav is, HomeNav is one of our offerings at the Green Home Coach, and I apologize for the shameless plug, but it actually helps out a lot here, so that’s why I wanted to bring it up. It’s an online software tool, it’s actually available for free if you want to fill your own in. But for our builder clients and developer clients, we fill it in. We customize it with an inventory of all the stuff in the home. All the appliances, the systems, the components, the fixtures, the finishes. And then, we also can upload little videos for the specific training components that are needed. We can upload the plans, we can upload any custom documents that the builder or the developer or the community may have. We can upload custom links.

But any rate, so that gives us this repository of information to use to train the home owner or the building owner. And it doesn’t go away, because they get the account, they can come back and reference it.

Tony:                                     Oh, that’s nice.

Marla:                                   So, I do have one client up in New York that we’ve done these little videos, they’ve done some really cool video doorbells and some really cool light and fan controls. We just took these little 20 second videos, and now they can show those videos to their clients, their buyers, to show them how to operate things.

Tony:                                     So it’s really a virtual manual?

Marla:                                   It is, it is a virtual manual. But that’s another option. Or, I have some clients that put together a physical book, and then use that to train it. But the key here is, if you can figure out a way to not just train somebody, but give them something to come back to, because I know my brain, I need the reminder.

Tony:                                     And I think that’s important too, because in today’s homes, there’s just so much. You are not going to remember everything by walking through the house for an hour or even two hours and being told, “This does this, this does this, this does this.”

Well, great, you’ve got your notepad, well, what’s going to happen? You’ve got to move.

Marla:                                   Right.

Tony:                                     You’ve got to move all your stuff in, you’ve lost your notepad, now you don’t know where it is. “I still don’t know how to make things work. It’s a Sunday, how do I change this, how do I do that. There’s nobody available.”

So, it’s easier to have the manual to go to.

Marla:                                   And if you didn’t, for instance, want to use something like HomeNav, you wanted to just do it on your own, I mean, you don’t get all of our expertise, but at least we can help you get the basics. You could even take your own little videos or photographs and store them in a Dropbox so you could access it from your smartphone or your computer, either way. The thing that’s nice for me to have it on my smartphone or a tablet is that I can walk around the house with it. It’s a little more cumbersome to walk around the house with my laptop. So that’s nice, because I can go to where the thing is that I need to understand how to operate or how to program it or what to do with it, just as a logistical element.

And honestly, now a days, it’s getting to the point where it’s easier to access things on your phone or your tablet than even a hard copy notebook. I’ve got my binder from my builder that has the things in it, and I’ve referred to it a couple of times. But half the time, I’m just going online and searching for stuff. And that’s just as quick.

The other thing that we do with HomeNav that’s kind of a nice shortcut, and was one of the things I was very adamant about when we were building HomeNav, is that we put direct links in to the model page for any of the components and systems in your home, and that model page almost always has the operator’s manual, the warranty, or it tells you how to find the warranty, and information, the specs, the specifications of the actual product. So that’s just a nice place, and if you’re not using HomeNav, go find the model page for whatever it is you have questions about. Now, heads up, if it’s an older model, you’re going to have to search a little bit, and companies change their pages. So you may have to look a little harder. There’s actually a website out there for discontinued models where you can find this information for things that are several years old and maybe aren’t still in the common flow of commerce right now. The internet’s made all this stuff available to us so easy, and with smartphones, we can capture that information so easy.

Tony:                                     Oh, yeah. Google search on the phone.

Marla:                                   So use that. Yeah, so use that, and use that as a tool to help train your buyers, your clients. Even a realtor or a homeowner can shoot a couple of little videos. Heck, my mom and dad, they’re using videos on their phones all the time. It’s just so easy now, that anybody can do it. So, do it. But put it in a place where you can find it. That’s what’s most important. So put it in a Dropbox or put it in a folder. Put it some place that’s going to be meaningful to you, because if you keep it on your phone mixed in with the other 3,428 pictures and videos, you’re going to have a hard time finding it.

Tony:                                     Absolutely.

Marla:                                   Spoken from experience.

Tony:                                     You mean the phone’s not for watching cat videos any more?

Marla:                                   No, it’s not, is it?

Tony:                                     Well, even if you’re the builder or you’re the real estate agent, or you’re the home owner selling it, if you have all that organized and you can give it to your client to say, “Here’s all the operational videos you need for the house,” hey, guess what. You are now at another level of customer service-

Marla:                                   What a gift.

Tony:                                     Than all of your competitors.

Marla:                                   Yeah, truly a gift. And you may, like the neighborhood that I was in in St. Louis before I moved, was just a great neighborhood. There was tons of stuff within walking distance, we had community gardens. When the people that bought my home, my condo, bought it, I made sure I put all that information … As a matter of fact, I had it in the listing so that people would know all of that was available. We had a community pool and tennis courts and a park and a lot of walking trails and biking trails. That’s the same kind of information that goes above and beyond what’s required for training. However, again, back to your comment, “Whoa, what great customer service.”

If you’re a builder or a developer wanting to sell more homes in your area-

Tony:                                     That’s how you do it.

Marla:                                   Well, guess who your best referrals are?

Tony:                                     People that have already bought.

Marla:                                   Yep. And if they love what you’ve offered them, and, “Oh my gosh, you won’t believe what my builder gave to me. They showed me how to do all of this, and they gave me this whole list of places I can go in the neighborhood, and wa-da-da-da-da,” and yeah, they’re going to tell everybody.

Tony:                                     Yeah.

Marla:                                   So that’s a great customer service tool as well. It’s a great marketing tool for people to remember, that doing something that goes a little bit above and beyond, if you’re building a green-certified home, it may be required. However, why not turn that requirement into a marketing asset?

Tony:                                     Oh, you know what? And that’s a great way to do it. I remember, speaking of marketing, and this is how you always have to look at opportunities. Remember a few years ago, we had a shortage of carpenters, and we had a lot of foundations just sitting for, like three, four weeks at a time. Well, typically production builders, they pour the foundation, it sits a week, and you start framing on it.

Marla:                                   Right.

Tony:                                     One production builder kept telling their home owners that, “Oh yeah, we allow our foundations to cure for 30 days.”

Marla:                                   That’s brilliant.

Tony:                                     Instant credibility.

Marla:                                   Brilliant.

Tony:                                     So that’s how you spin problems into opportunities.

Marla:                                   Brilliant, brilliant. So yes, training, needed. Everyone knows they need it. But they don’t always get it. So you provide it, even if it’s a one-on-one transaction between home owner and home owner, the ability to transfer that information is definitely needed, appreciated, and it is going to put you at a different level.

Tony:                                     Well, especially if it’s a one-on-one transaction, think of it from your point of view. If you’re selling the home, and if you were buying this house and all the stuff in it, wouldn’t you like to know how it all works?

Marla:                                   Yup.

Tony:                                     And if you would like to know [crosstalk]. If you would like to know how it all works, chances are, the person buying your house wants to know how it all works too.

Marla:                                   Exactly.

Tony:                                     So if you can make it easy for them, you’re going to feel better about it, and it’s going to be a better experience for everybody.

Marla:                                   And don’t wait for your realtor to suggest it. If you want this, ask for it. And by the way, there’s no reason you shouldn’t want it, because it’ll make your life easier.

Tony:                                     Absolutely.

Marla:                                   So, there you have it, driving your home. We hope we’ve elucidated a little bit of the topic … I think I said that word right.

Tony:                                     Yeah, put the brakes on right there.

Marla:                                   Yeah, well. But, we appreciate you listening in today, and continue to catch us on the Green Gab, whether it be on iTunes, the Green Home Coach website, or at greengabpodcast.com or in our privately offered educational modules. Tony?

Tony:                                     Marla.

Marla:                                   Have a great day.

Tony:                                     You too.

Marla:                                   See you all soon.

Click to access the login or register cheese