So you bought your first house! As scary as the house hunting part of home ownership can be, knowing what to do once you move in is a whole new adventure. My experience as a first-time homeowner has involved a lot of learning the hard way and I can’t count the number of times I cursed the education system for not teaching me anything about how to take care of a house.
It got me thinking: why isn’t there an e-learning course for this? If you can learn to cook, play guitar, or improve customer service online, where is the system that breaks home maintenance down to the very basics? Well right now, this course only exists in my head, but in this dream, you’d have a fully simulated house, with disaster scenarios of varying seriousness to discover. As you explore the house, you learn how your house works and figure out the best way to solve those problems. Want a peek? Come on in!
Sniff. What’s that smell? Is it…? Oh no. It’s the dog, Buddy. He thought he was chasing the neighbor’s black-and-white cat that taunts him all day long. Unfortunately this black-and-white creature was not a cat but a skunk, and poor Buddy learned that the hard way. As if the stink wasn’t bad enough, it looks like this little critter is living under the back patio. Now what?
Look at these items that you’ve gathered from around the house. What do you think will best equip you to deal with your new tenant?
Laundry basket: Maybe this isn’t how the pros do it, but if Elmer Fudd can use wild techniques to catch rabbits, this is a great low-cost option!
Feedback: It was nice to choose a non-lethal trap, but that overwhelming smell is now coming from you. There is nothing about a laundry basket that will stop a skunk from spraying. Looks like you’re next up for a tomato juice bath!
Shovel and gravel: Blocking the hole underneath the patio is like changing the locks on the little guy.
Feedback: Covering the hole will definitely stop the skunk from entering, but unfortunately, it’s also preventing him from exiting. If you want to try this approach, make sure the skunk (and his skunk family) aren’t home before you fill in their exit route.
Cell phone: It’s an expensive option, but an animal control professional will definitely handle this more efficiently.
Feedback: OK, so you may not be able to afford those concert tickets anymore but calling in the pros was the best decision you could have made. Your hero used a humane trap that avoided any extra stink, and unless that the little guy found a skunk-specific burrowing e-learning course, he probably won't be back!
Finally a beautiful long weekend approaches! Time to give that drab old kitchen an easy and inexpensive facelift by refinishing the cupboards. One of the first steps is to get rid of that nasty old range hood that nobody cleaned for 40 years. Before you rip it out, let’s make a quick stop at the circuit breaker box.
Select each circuit you’d like to turn off for this project: Kitchen, Kitchen Island/Dining Room, Living Room, Garage, Master Bedroom, Master Bathroom, Basement back room, Basement main room, Second/Third Bedroom, Turn everything OFF, Keep everything ON
(If learner selects any combination EXCEPT “Basement Back Room”)
I didn’t know we were doing fireworks this weekend! Oh wait, that flash came from the wire you just cut. Yikes! After heading back downstairs you realize none of the electricity there seems to be on either. Didn’t you know “Basement” and “Kitchen” mean the same thing? Well in the language of crazy old houses, that’s sometimes the case. Next time, let’s just completely turn off the electricity unless you definitely know which circuit controls what.
(If learner selects “Keep everything ON”)
The good news is you’re alive and the Albert Einstein hair is a really good look for you. The bad news is there was still electricity running to that old hood and you could have seriously hurt yourself. Electricity is no joke so let’s play it safe from now on and turn it off during demolition.
(If learner selects “Turn everything OFF”)
Great work! That gross hunk of junk is out by the curb and even with a blank space on the wall, the kitchen already looks better. Best of all, you didn’t shock yourself! Taking precautions and turning all of the electricity off was a good decision, since you’re still not sure about all of the house’s quirks.
Now that you have a house, you’ve got a yard that’s all your own! However, as the seasons progress you’re noticing it doesn’t just stay happy and green on its own. One part floods while another part looks like it’s only a few inches from the sun. There are bumps on the left and on the right there are 3 different types of grass growing in one spot. Turns out there’s more to it than a weekly mow. Take a look at these lawn care steps. Drag and drop them to the season they belong to. Hint: Some steps happen several times a year!
Mower tune-up (Answer: spring)
Dethatch (Answer: late summer)
Reseed (Answer: late summer)
Fertilize (Answer: spring, late summer, fall)
Aerate (Answer: late summer)
Water (Answer: summer)
Feedback: All of these steps are important in making sure your yard doesn’t have a post-apocalyptic aesthetic to it. Though it may seem like a lot, remember you’re spreading this care out across several months and your grass (and neighbors) will thank you.
If some of this sounds like personal experience, that may be true, but I'm happy to be the guinea pig if it saves future first-time buyers some trouble. While not your typical focus, like customer service or employee training, this hits one of the most basic fundamentals of our custom e-learning: teaching something that people need to know in a fun, low-risk, engaging way.