If you want to become a great cook, you watch how renowned chefs prepare their own meals. After all, they know what really matters — and what you can ignore. (Soufflé, here we come!) The same goes for your home. If you want to know the key steps to maintaining you biggest investment, you turn to the pros. Fortunately for us, we have a number of them! This month, we get to know Matthew and his advice for the holidays.
QUESTION: Hi Matthew! How did you get into home maintenance?
Matthew: Initially, I worked for a flood and fire remediation company. If your house had a flood or fire, we would come in and take care of the demolition, clean up, and rebuilding. I did that until the company got into remodeling hotels and asked me to lead one of their crews remodeling guest rooms. We were on a really tight schedule. When you're remodeling hotels, you're working with a limited time window to avoid interfering with the business and clients. It's difficult to coordinate and plan during that small window, but getting it done without impacting the hotel's business is key.
From there, I had the chance to work with my brother in law’s handyman company and then AAA House Manager. Nowadays, I do a little bit of everything but what I’ve fallen into doing most and being the best at is wall repair and texture matching.
QUESTION: Did you know what you wanted to be growing up?
Matthew: I had no idea. I still ask myself that to this day because I still feel like a child at heart. I always wanted to do something where I could help people and there’s a good sense of accomplishment at the end of each day. I need those two things to feel good at the end of the day.
QUESTION: What was the first thing you fixed around your own home?
Matthew: The first thing I did when my wife and I bought our first house in 2009 was replace all of the plumbing underneath the house. The line from our main bathroom to the cleanout at the front of the house was bad. I ended up re-plumbing the bathroom, which includes the shower and the toilet all the way up through the front of the house again.
QUESTION: What's your favorite tool or piece of equipment?
Matthew: I’m kind of a geek for old hand tools, the ones most people avoid nowadays. I think all the old hand tools just had a different quality to them because you really had to get in there, create things with your own hands, and make it work with your own power. It’s like an art in and of itself. The callback to this time when you created something with your hands is really amazing to me. I actually take old tools I find at thrift stores and old barns or ranches and restore them.
QUESTION: How do you take care of your own home?
Matthew: I stick really closely to my honey-do list because, as they say, “happy wife, happy life.” On top of that, I try to stay on top of a good maintenance schedule: keeping the gutters clean, seasonal HVAC maintenance, flushing the hot water heater... If anything breaks, I fix it straight away so things don’t pile up on the list.
QUESTION: What do you like to do in your free time?
Matthew: I spend a lot of time playing with my kids. They’re becoming adults really quickly. I have two teenagers in high school and a seventh grader. My daughter and two sons like to play Dungeons and Dragons together. I work some of the things I've encountered in life — like dealing with difficult personalities — into the stories and villains to see how they react. It gives me plenty of room to make good stories.
QUESTION: Do you have any advice for homeowners?
Matthew: For the holiday season, I know a lot of members will travel to see family. Any time you’re traveling away from your home for a certain period of time, turn off your water to avoid a pipe bursting, a hose getting a leak, or your angle stop valve failing. The water could continue to run the entire time you’re away and cause damage. Water is the leading cause of damage to homes!
QUESTION: What’s been your favorite moment as a House Manager?
Matthew: My favorite moment is when we get to work with a member who has worried, upset energy because something is wrong or they’re not sure how to go about doing something. Watching that do a 180 from the beginning to the end of the visit — bringing that to the member — is my favorite part.
Thanks for reading! Get to know more members of our House Manager team and their advice with our first two interviews: George and Darwin. Do you have any questions for our experts? Leave them in the comments section at the bottom of this blog post and we'll ask them in our next interview.