Lots of people, especially real estate agents, think they can divine exactly what a house should be in order to appeal to people. They might come up with an ideal square footage, promote a certain bedroom-to-bathroom ratio, and go on and on about the value of a deck versus a patio. I think that is mostly nonsense, because when it comes down to it, the only thing that's truly important in a house is the way it feels. A place that feels solid, not a home that keeps you cool in the summer and toasty warm in the winter. A house that will stand up for all the ages, rather than fall apart before the decade's out. Whether you are renovating a home, building an addition, or simply maintaining what you've got, I believe it's a lot better to let yourself be guided by that principle rather than try to add a few haphazard things that might attract some future buyers.

More than anything, I want you to think of your house as a place to treasure and care for, not patch together. This investment goes far deeper than simply owning a few shares of some dot-com or blue-chip stock. It's an investment in ourselves and our quality of life. As the very symbol of family life, a house demands respect from the people who live in it.

A house is more like a living, breathing organism than a pile of brick and lumber. Think about the mess of wiring that lies coiled behind the walls, or the plumbing that snakes its way to sinks and bathroom fixtures. Consider having a greater appreciation of the things that are covered up by paint and paper on the walls, and the systems that flow just beneath the plush carpets and polished wood of the floors. It is this unseen portion of your house that does more to make you feel comfortable and secure than any cushy sofa or swath of fabric hanging in a window. And if the hidden things aren't working properly, then what......

Whatever you do to your house, repairing or renovating it, you have an obligation to make sure the job gets done right. And as a homeowner, you should have the same standards, because ultimately a good home is tactile.

Check list for your home ONCE A YEAR:

  • Professionally clean the chimney
  • Drain the water heater
  • Clean sump pump and pit
  • Professionally clean the furnace, boiler, and air conditioning unit

Check list for your home ONCE EVERY SIX MONTHS:

  • Inspect your home
  • Clean out the coils from behind the refrigerator, dryer vent and roof gutters

Check list for your home ONCE A MONTH:

  • Test all GFCI breakers
  • Disinfect shelves of refrigerator, sinks and bathtubs