After suffering through severe winters, fortunate is the homeowner whose house is not in need of some remedial attention.
Leaky roofs, damaged ceilings, peeling paint, bent gutters, collapsed garages and mangled trees and shrubbery have become a legacy of recent winters.
And the experts say the time to begin getting your house and grounds back in shape is now. Even something as minor as a small amount of peeling paint could develop into serious problem if not attended to before the pounding winds and rain of spring and summer begin.
Most homeowners can take care of many of the repairs themselves. And even better, some problem, such as wet insulatio in the walls and battered evergreen trees; may correct themselves if left alone.
"It's not too early to start thinking of preparing your house for next winter," said the general manager of one real estate firm.
"Delaying might result in never having necessary repairs made until the snow starts to fall again in November or December. And you could have problems if you suddenly decided to sell a house that needed repairs," he said.
Of course some repair tasks, in particular correcting structural damage, are best left to the professional craftsman. But it may not be all that costly since a homeowner's insurance policy may cover damage caused by ice and snow.
And because President Carter declared parts of the nation emergency areas after last winter's heavy snows you may be able to obtain a low-interest loan for repairs. Losses from the storm also may be declared as federal income tax deductions, so be sure to keep good records of all your expenditures and losses related to weather.
A word of caution: The National Council of Better Business Bureaus reports that consumers' complaints dealing with home repair companies are on the increase. If you're unsure of the reputation of a contractor, check with the organization or your local building department for information on any complaints and how they were resolved.
Ask the contractor for the names of some persons he has worked for and check to see if the work was performed satisfactorily.
Begin your spring house renovation program with a thorough inspection of your property, concentrating on five major areas-roof, structural, interior, exterior and landseaping. If you suspect serious damage, call in a professional inspector, such as an engineer, general contractor or architect.
They also can advise you on which of the following types of damage you might be able to correct yourself:
Structural. Start in the attic and look for signs of rotting wood, hairline cracks or bowing of beams. Ang of these could indicate serious trouble, so call in an inspector at once.
Other structural damage is more apparent-collapsed garages or carport (contact your insurance agent), or a rear porch that pulled away the house.
Roofs. According to real estate agents, at least 35 percent of all homeowners' insurance claims throughout the year are for roof damage.
Loose shingles resulting from the heavy snow and spring and summer storms and strong windscould cause expensive damage inside the house. Therefore, even a solitary broken or missing shingle should be replaced as soon as possible.
Ice that formed under the shingles, the major cause of leaking roofs this past winter, should no longer be a problem if the roof is sound. The first major rain storm will provide the test. But if the roof has developed such problems as rotted beams or water-damaged sheathing, call in a roffer. Left uncorrected, these problems can only get worse.
Gutters and downspouts. Heavy snow and ice may have pulled them away from the house or bent them out of shape. A do-it-youselfer possibly could put them back in order, but check your insurance agent. If you have an all-risk policy, chances are gutter damage is covered.
To keep your gutters free of ice next winter you can install electric heating coils or cables. But it's a difficult job to do yourself and the cost of materials and professional installation could be several hundred dollars.
Fences. If a fence was damaged by the wind, contact your insurance agent. "But if the damage was caused by snow such as heavy drifting, the loss isn't covered," said Anthony J. Decianni, a State Farm insurance agent.
"If the fence is next to an alley or street and was damaged as a result of snow plowing, that's considered vehicular damage and probably would be covered," Decianni said.
Doors and windows. While inspecting the exterior for any paint problems, also check the condition of the caulking around doors and windows. If it needs replacing, do it now. You'll not only be ready for next winter but a good caulking job will help cut down on air conditioning bills in the hot months. Caulking and painting are among the simplest of do-it-yourself jobs.
Brick and masonry siding. Water leaking from roofs can seep into mortar and freeze, which could result in some of the mortar having to be replaced. The process is called tuckpointing. You could do this yourself, but it's a time-consuming chore.
Interiors. A bit of good news. Chances are you shouldn't have to replace insulation that got soaked by water dripping between walls. Insulation doesn't retain water and it should dry out.
Repapering or repainting a water-stained wall or ceiling shouldn't overexert most homeowners, but first be sure there's no more leakage. Almost any store that sells wall coverings can give advice on preparation and application.
Landscaping. Easy does it, because most plants will recover if you let nature take its course. Don't be in a hurry to replace any evergreens that look as if they were hopelessly crushed by snow. By May they should return to their normal shape.