Quite often we get calls from contractors who are doing renovations as a result of a home maintenance mishap. Wouldn’t it be great if we could detect when those mishaps were going to happen? RMS is a local company who does exactly that. I recently sat down with CEO Jim Kupczak to find out how a regular house call is really the best medicine for your home.
Where it all began
CW: What got you started in this business?
JK: This is my second career actually. My first was in corporate finance working for companies like Deloitte and KPMG. I was getting tired of helping other people start their businesses and make money so I decided I either needed to buy a business or start my own.
JK: A friend of mine was involved in the renovation construction industry and he was constantly exposed to the fact that his clients were calling after construction asking what to do with this, what to do with that. They were essentially asking for an operation manual for the house. It’s like having a child – there is no operating manual.
CW: I suppose you’re right. There is always warranty of course but there is no operation manual.
JK: Right. When I was doing market research I identified that everyone in the marketplace was REACTIVE. They were addressing the leaky roof, the broken faucet, etc. I wanted to take a PROACTIVE approach so I took the same approach we use on vehicles and applied to homes.
JK: You have to do regular maintenance to keep the warranty on the car – if you do those things the car retains greater value and is more comfortable for you to operate. So we took that analogy and applied it to a house. It’s the single biggest investment in your life – why wouldn’t you want to do the maintenance to hold it’s value? At the time we started in 2001, no one in the marketplace was offering maintenance for the whole house. Currently there is still no one offering it.
It’s like having a child – there is no operating manual.
How does it work?
CW: So you do maintenance on the whole house….what does that mean?
JK: We offer a number of different services with a few different tiers. The first tier is our main service and is quarterly based. We do 4 visits per year with a checklist of over 150 items that are seasonly based. So we check all of the items for that season, and then do the maintenance on them right then. It could be anything from changing furnace filters, to flushing hot water tanks, to lubricating garage doors. We don’t just tell you what needs fixing – we fix it too.
CW: Do you have your own team that does all the inspecting and fixing?
JK: We do. We put them through our own certification program that we created in-house.
JK: Of course if we find something that requires extra time, we provide the customer with a quote and come back another time to fix it. Either way, we get it taken care of.
CW: So basically it’s like a quarterly check-up for your house?
JK: Exactly. Truthfully the biggest thing we’re always looking to protect the house from is water. Water gets everywhere – behind baseboards, it seeps into the walls, gets under floor boards…..
CW: And you have other programs that you offer as well?
JK: Yes we also have a Semi-Annual Program where we do a Spring/Summer check and a Fall/Winter check , and a Condo Living Program which operates on a semi-annual basis as well.
CW: So obviously this model doesn’t suit everyone. There are a lot of DIYers out there who actually enjoy doing a lot of this stuff themselves. So who is your business ideal for? What type of person would benefit from this service?
JK: The ones that benefit are those who understand the value of preventative maintenance. Those who say I want you to provide me with the peace of mind so I can go out and do the things I want to do and spend time with my family. Our demographic is typically 45-55 year old professionals.
JK: We unfortunately had a couple of clients pass away this year. The kids came to me after and said ‘Thank you for allowing mom and dad to stay in their home. Thank you for taking care of everything for them.’
CW: That IS a great advantage of the service. So many of my clients are designing their homes to age in place.
Tips and Tricks
CW: What is the biggest mistake you see people making with their homes?
JK: We hear them say things like ‘I have a new home and I don’t have to do anything to maintain it’ or ‘I have just had a reno done therefore I don’t have to do anything to maintain it.’ You should maintain your investment. It goes back to the analogy of the car – you wouldn’t buy a brand new car and not expect to change the oil because it’s new would you?
CW: What are some maintenance tips you would offer for this time of year?
JK: The single biggest issue we see this time of year is ice damming. That’s the icicles that hang from your roof in the winter. When the snow is melting off the roof it pools behind the ice, then seeps back up under the shingles. Eventually it drips through the roof into the soffits, walls, and worst of all, onto your ceilings. Once it gets into the sheathing it starts to rot.
JK: This happens for two reasons: poor insulation and poor circulation. Your air temp in the attic should be the same as outside. Lack of proper air circulation sends heat up from the basement. Having air vents in the attic minimizes some of these problems.
JK: The other issue we see is with sump pumps. With a sump pump you want the water water to be discharged at least 3’ from the house. So what most people do is a big long hose to the backyard so it’s as far from the house as possible so you don’t get water pooling. But if you don’t disconnect your long hose in the winter, they freeze up and can cause the sump pump to back up and flood the basement. Insurers are actually cutting back on monies paid for floods in basement because they’re paying so much money over this stuff that could have been prevented. So people are flooding their basements and this isn’t being covered.
CW: That is why you should always update your insurance policy during and after your renovation.
CW: This is all great information Jim. Anything else you want people to know about your services?
JK: We’re currently accepting new clients!