Don Thomas of RD Handyman Service installs a ceiling fan at a home in southeast Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

Don Thomas of RD Handyman Service installs a ceiling fan at a home in southeast Everett. (Andy Bronson / The Herald)

When fall chores loom, just hand them to the handyman

Here are three local businesses that can help you prepare your home for the rainy season.

By Christina Hickman / Special to The Herald

It’s time to get ready for the rain.

If you’re a property owner, you need to prepare your home.

Luckily, The Daily Herald caught up with three handyman businesses — each of them licensed, bonded and insured — that can help you finish what needs to be done to the house before the rainy season starts.

Read on to learn more about each company’s history and available handyman services.

R&D Handyman Service

The R is for Rod Preusch, the D for Don Thomas, Rod’s son-in-law. Perhaps the ampersand stands for Rod’s daughter and Don’s wife, Alison Preusch.

Before moving to Washington, the Preusches lived in Las Vegas. After obtaining his painting license, Rod painted for major Vegas strip hotels like The Dunes. When he was laid off from that job, he started a painting and paper hanging company.

The family relocated to Orcas Island 40 years ago, where Rod found work with several building contractors. He stayed on Orcas for 15 years before moving to Everett to be closer to his three daughters and grandchildren. Rod continued to work on the island, but when the commute became too much, he became a general contractor in the Everett area. He did this for another 15 years.

Rod’s father taught him how to build at a young age, so it was natural for him to go from painting to remodeling. Alison recalled that her family never lived in the same home for more than five years. Rod constantly remodeled their houses, and when the projects ran out, it was time to move on.

“He’s of the generation that he can’t just sit still,” she said.

Over the years, Rod acquired multiple licenses as a painter and general contractor. But the more painting and wallpaper jobs he did, the more he realized how customers would also ask him to do other projects around the house. An idea began to take shape.

With his son-in-law Donald, who is an electrician, Rod formed R&D. The men each have a work van, and while each takes on his own projects, most of the time the two work together. Rod handles the plumbing, painting and building; Don, the electrical work. A true family affair, Alison does the scheduling and bookkeeping. Now 79, Rod is taking on less of the work, while Don is picking up more.

The range of projects Rod and Don take on is wide. If there’s something you need to have done, chances are they can do it. No project is too small. Alison said her father and husband pride themselves on giving truthful advice as to whether a customer actually needs a certain service.

Beyond years of experience, the R&D crew is known to be extremely courteous and reliable. If either of them is running late, they’ll let you know.

Rod went out to fix a client’s leaky faucet on the Fourth of July. “I couldn’t leave him hanging,” he told Alison.

“Once he starts working for you, he thinks of you as his friend,” Alison said. “He’s a big-hearted sweetie, and I’m not just saying that because I’m his daughter.”

R&D Handyman Service serves the greater Everett area. Call 425-773-5906 for an appointment.

Island Handyman

As the Island Handyman, Brian Dernbach has been named Best Handyman four years in a row by the Best of Whidbey Readers Choice Awards. But he wasn’t always a handyman.

Born and raised on the island, Dernbach served in the military and then worked as an electrician for Boeing. After he was laid off, he picked up handyman work for a local company. It didn’t take him long to decide it made more sense to start his own business.

His first major business investment in 2000? His work van, which he still owns 17 years later. Dernbach slowly built up his tool library, acquiring items as needed for projects. Though it was a struggle at first, a combination of hard work and pride of craftsmanship eventually paid off.

“No matter how small or simple the job is, we want everything to be just right, to be perfect,” he said.

Dernbach has two employees. His wife, Joanna, does all of the administrative work and even handles some estimates.

You name it, Island Handyman can do it: hanging blinds, putting in locks, repairing drywall, roof repairs, building decks, remodeling kitchens.

“Any of the things no one wants to do,” Dernbach joked.

Everything comes with Dernbach’s quality guarantee: He doesn’t charge for anything up front, just the cost of materials.

“There is no payment until the customer is 100 percent satisfied and happy,” he said.

Island Handyman services Whidbey Island. Call 360-240-0850 or email islandhandyman@hotmail.com.

Art of Perfection Heating & Handyman Services

For Milo Edwards, president and owner of Art of Perfection Heating & Handyman Services, the gears started turning back when he worked for the Opportunity Council, helping low-income families make their homes more energy-efficient. Eventually, he earned his business license and reached out to area contractors to get jobs. He regularly assisted with fireplace service for Hearth & Home, a 31-year-old business in Oak Harbor.

Edwards started his own company back in 2006, working with local property managers and Realtors and building his client base. He now averages 100 to 120 clients per month (or five to eight a day).

He has been runner-up for the last two years for Best Handyman in the Best of Whidbey Readers Choice Awards. He has an idea why.

“I’m upfront and honest,” Edwards said. “I don’t beat around the bush; I tell it like it is.”

Edwards is a one-man show. He’s had employees before, but found himself having to go back and finish their jobs. They weren’t meeting the quality of work he expected.

He installs fireplaces and home appliances (dryers, ovens, etc.) in addition to the usual handyman tasks. His projects have involved heat pumps, conversions, gas piping, exhausts, dryer vents and roofs.

He is careful to make sure whatever he is working on has been permitted and inspected.

If a customer isn’t entirely sure what is needed, that’s OK, too.

“I consult with people and give them all of their options, and they appreciate that,” Edwards said.

Edwards prides himself on being a family man. He works Monday through Friday, reserving weekends to spend as much time as he can with his wife and three young children, ages 1, 3 and 7.

Art of Perfection serves Whidbey Island, as well as Anacortes and La Conner. Call 360-672-5772 or email artofperfectionheating@gmail.com to make an appointment.

Homeowners’ fall to-do list

Here’s what local handymen recommend for fall home maintenance:

1. Clean out the gutters. Most property owners forget to clean their gutters. “Out of sight, out of mind,” said Brian Dernbach of Island Handyman. Sitting dirt and leaves cause them to rust and then leak. Maintaining gutters is easier and less expensive than replacing them.

2. Winterize outdoor faucets. Prepare these faucets for freezing temperatures so that your pipes don’t burst, said Don Thomas of R&D Handyman Service. Shut off valves to each faucet, drain any water left in them, and then cover each faucet with an insulation sleeve.

3. Check wood piles for mice and bugs. You don’t want insects or animals burrowing into or eating your firewood, Thomas said.

4. Seal windows and doors. Check and re-seal caulking around exterior windows and doors. This avoids winter drafts that can lead to bigger heating bills, Thomas said. It can also prevent rot and black mold from forming inside siding, Dernbach said. Check around skylights, as well, to keep water out, said Milo Edwards of Art of Perfection Heating & Handyman Services.

5. Clean moss off the roof. Treat moss found growing on roofs, especially before the rain arrives, Dernbach said. Moss tends to grow under shingles, so it’s not always easy to see. The longer it is left unmaintained, the bigger of a detriment it becomes to the structural integrity of the roof.

6. Add insulation. Many homes don’t have adequate insulation — or any at all — especially in the attic, Dernbach said. Heating a house in the winter without insulation can result in huge heating bills.

7. Check fireplaces. Be sure to check fireplaces to ensure they are safe and ready to operate for winter, Edwards said. Also check the chimney flashings (the sheet metal between the chimney and roof that keeps it watertight).

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