Homeownership often gets labeled as the true "American dream," but the excitement and pride that comes with owning a home can quickly diminish when something breaks, and the landlord is you.
Most experts suggest that homeowners spend 1 percent of their overall home cost each year on home maintenance, so someone who purchased a home at $200,000 should spend about $2,000 annually, according to Porch, a website that provides tips and information for homeowners.
Major home repairs seemingly never come at a good time and can often be unexpected, but Orlando’s new home maintenance subscription House Doctor HI Club bets that Long Island homeowners will pay an average $49 a month for routine inspections to minimize the need for major repairs and for peace of mind, too.
"As homeowners, we kind of just cross our fingers and hope for the best," Orlando said. "We are trying to eliminate that guessing game."
Billed monthly, Orlando, compares House Doctor HI Club to subscriptions like Home Advisor or Angies' List but he offers a complete service from one trusted source instead of multi-offers from unknown providers. Fee starts at just under $360 a year for items covered in the basic plan and aims to be a simple way for homeowners to stay on top of maintenance that can turn into a bigger problem and headaches if not taken care of properly.
Four times a year, or as often as needed, at additional fee, his team checks for mechanical and structural issues in a home and performs usual maintenance items, like checking the heating and air unit, changing out air filters, checking for water infiltration and more. While the House Doctor HI Club comes out as little or as often as a homeowner would like, the idea is that a homeowner can get an overall picture of how their home holds up in different seasons.
A home is a lot like a story with different chapters.
"What does your house do in the winter, summer, spring and fall? There's different stories for each," Orlando explained. "Your house might not be affected by something in the winter that you'll have a problem with, in the summer."
Orlando, a Chilean immigrant, followed his father’s footsteps and as a carpenter and all-around handyman his father built his own house, worked repairing and maintaining residential properties for over 30 years before coming to the US so he inherited the same talents and has been in the home improvement business serving Long Islanders for over 30 years.
For over twenty years now, Orlando has run Bathtub Doctor, a bathtub refinishing business in Nassau county, but for the last ten years he has expanded the business to provide full home improvement services to Long Islanders, he found that people would often call them after a problem had already occurred. Clients were thinking more retroactively than proactively, he said.
"We've just found little, every-day routine maintenance kind of things are so simple to do yet it can be a big issue down the road if you neglect it," Orlando said. "As the house gets older, everything gets worn out. Shingles get worn out; mechanical items get worn out. There's maintenance that is going to help it stay working longer and we want to provide that."
One of Bathtub Doctor’s customers signed her 10-year-old home up for House Doctor HI Club right after Orlando launched the company last year. The couple works with the House Doctor HI Club team and has received help from them in the past when she needed repairs done at one of her rental properties and none of the repairmen she had called showed up.
Disloyal and unresponsive contractors and repair personnel can be one of the biggest headaches for homeowners.
Instead of spending time trying to get quotes from different repair companies, House Doctor HI Club have included that part in their service, as well. If the team cannot handle the repair or it requires a licensed professional, Orlando said, they will find one who can, and will make they show up by being there to supervise and host the service appointment.
"Honestly, that was one of the big draws for me," The couple said. "I can't tell you how many times I've called plumbers or handymen who said they would show up but then I never heard from them again."
On one of the first, clear spring mornings of March, Orlando and team climbed atop the roof of their home looking for anything out of the ordinary. It was the first inspection of her home, and Orlando said initial inspections can take anywhere from four to five hours.
Afterward, the couple received a 17-page report outlining all the routine repairs House Doctor and/or associates made that day, which included repairing a leak in the HVAC unit, replacing some light bulbs and more. The report also included what he would check for in the next few visits and what items he recommended fixing sooner rather than later.
"I thought I would just give him a walk-through, but he spent most of the day there and came back with photos and information on things that I was unaware of," she said.
One thing homeowners in Long Island need to be more mindful of is moisture intrusion, Orlando said.
"Long Island is subject to all of nature’s extreme temperatures, freezing temps in the winter and near 100 degrees in the summer," Orlando explained. "You've got a lot of mildew growth and wood rot problems, and it's so humid and hot in summer that anything on the exterior like siding, gutters, windows, roofing will wear out faster causing, air and water leaks that can potentially cause real headaches later, because of that. It's particularly important to keep vigilant."
For an extra fee, homeowners can have the House Doctor HI Club team assemble and install furniture, help with water remediation and flooding, set up smart home devices, gutter cleaning and more. Orlando said they also want to open their services up to real estate agents who may need a go-to inspector or repair company when buyers or sellers need quick repairs, as well.
For Orlando, House Doctor HI Club comes down to taking care of one of a person's biggest investments — their home.
"We want to make things streamlined and smooth, so that way you can just focus on living and focus on your family," Orlando said. "We would like to take at least this part of it off of your plate."
Check their website to find out how they can help you get piece of mind and take control of your home maintenance.