Mom Monday-Using Your Home Improvement Repair as a Teaching Moment

23 Oct

As a teenager, I remember being aware of financial discussions regarding home improvements my parents were considering.  My mother believed I needed to learn how to determine if something needed a repair, research the issue, and seek quotes from reputable companies to handle the repairs.  She was quick to use home improvement repair as a teaching moment.

Home Repair as a teaching moment on Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

Home improvements, especially the major ones, involve more than just the making a decision to fix a leaking roof or a hole in the wall.  These types of decisions require asking questions of potential contractors, looking at what is covered in the cost of the repair, and what will be fixed in the repair.

I remember when the drain field for the septic system was failing.  The septic tank repairman said we would need a new drain field.  I helped my mother with the initial research which involved the phone book, not Google on a smart phone.  I helped her look at companies, wrote down questions and tracked answers, as well as went over the written estimates for the work.


5 Ways to Use Home Improvement Repair as a Teaching Moment

  1. Discuss the proposed repair, service, or installation. Make a list of what you want or need done, questions you may have, and if you already know someone who does the specific type of work.  Ask your teen if his or her friends’ parents work for a company which may be able to do the repairs.
  2. Make a list of questions to ask each contractor when contacting them for a price quote. If your teen has questions, add them to the list to ask the contractors.
  3. Look up potential contractors to hire. Teach your teen how to check state license databases to ensure the companies you are looking at are licensed, bonded, and insured.
  4. Check testimonials and reviews for each company on Better Business Bureau, social media review sites, and each company’s website. Many teens are great at finding things on social media and the internet.  While supervising their online search, task them with finding the reviews.  Have a discussion on how to read reviews and take each with a grain of salt as each person is entitled to their own opinion of the service they received.
  5. Get written quotes for the proposed work. As roofer and owner of Value Roofing, Brian Glasser recommends, “Always get three bids from three different contractors.”  Why three companies?  Three different companies will give you a better idea of the going rate for parts and labor.  Show how those math skills are helpful when comparing quotes.  Read the warranty with your teen.  Do you both understand the warranty?  Explore the what-if scenarios of having to use the warranty.  If you cannot determine the answer, ask the contractor for clarification.

Home Repair as a teaching moment on Helicopter Mom and Just Plane Dad

As a side note, if your son is in the Boy Scouts, your home improvement repair may help him complete a requirement or two for his Personal Management Merit Badge.  If your daughter is a Girl Scout, check to see if this type of project will help her with any rank or badge requirements.

Teens involved in this type of problem-solving with real world applications now will have be a step ahead in the future.  They will see how the major financial decisions we as parents face and deal with (like home improvement repairs, a new car, or even that new smart phone) and such decisions are not to be taken lightly.


I’m Adrienne Z. Milligan, a Washington State native, where I live with my husband as we homeschool our four boys.  I began writing at age six and still prefer writing pen to paper than on Adrienne Z Milliganfingers on a keyboard.  Since co-authoring and publishing my first book, The Gluten-Free Way: My Way in 2009, I continue to write professionally as a published author and freelance journalist.  I love baking, doing genealogy research with my husband, visiting friends and family, small-scale mining, reading, and soaking in the sunshine (both the warm and liquid types which we receive in Western Washington).   http://www. 

One Response to “Mom Monday-Using Your Home Improvement Repair as a Teaching Moment”