Jun 26

Exterior Home Maintenance Post SHTF

By The Maj

Have you ever visited a home improvement store just before or right after a hurricane or other similar event?  In many cases, you will find they will be packed out like the grocery stores and the only thing left on the shelves will be the wall paper and other home beautification items.  Usually, when it comes to a hurricane, plywood and other similar siding or roofing materials will be the first items gone, followed shortly by tarps, rolls of plastic, etc.  People make a mad dash just before or just after one of these events to gather supplies they feel like they will need post event or are in actual need of once the event has occurred and the stores have reopened.  What most of the general population never seems to consider is “what if it is weeks or months before the stores reopen?”  “What if the stores never reopen?”  So what then?  Do you have a plan?  Have you incorporated basic home maintenance into your bug in planning?

Bugging in is not the “sexy” side of prepping so most preppers tend to give it a passing glance when they first start prepping.  However, even if you happen to be bugging out to your cabin in the redoubt, you are going to have to give some type of consideration to home maintenance post SHTF, unless you plan to live in a tent or cave until things settle down and return to normal.  Also, living in the day of power tools, you only thought that home maintenance was time consuming and a pain in the rear.  As with cooking and staying clean maintaining your dwelling will see some drastic changes post SHTF.

Yard Work:

If you thought the end of the world meant no more yard work, you might want to think again.  Certainly, you will not be concerned about maintaining the best looking yard on the block or maintaining that prized rose bush any longer but there are things in your yard that will need attention.  Have you ever seen a house where the grass and shrubs went without cutting over the course of a year?  Some of you may answer with “yeah, so what?”.  Well, having waist high grass and weeds butting right up next to your house presents a pretty significant fire hazard under the right conditions and the fire department happens to be on an extended vacation.  Besides the fire hazard, this waste high grass will become a haven for insects (which can destroy your home or cause you serious health concerns) and snakes – remember long term you will not have access to pest control services or pesticides either.  Your shrubs may look great today, but how long will it be before they have overgrown the house and obscured your vision from within the house?  They will require some form of maintenance as well.  Naturally, OPSEC is a concern and you do not want to maintain a yard or shrubs that scream “a prepper still resides here” but you will have to balance keeping things manageable with maintaining a low profile.

So, what tools will you need:

  • Weed Sling or Scythe
  • Bush Axe
  • Bow Saw
  • Hoe
  • Rake
  • Axe
  • Scoop or Shovel

Roof Maintenance:

Those pesky leaks that you have dealt with in today’s world may not be anything compared to the repairs that may be necessary post event.  Whether you sustain roof damage from a hurricane or tornado OR your roof deteriorates over time following a long term event, you have to expect and plan for repairs to the roof of your bug in location.  Most roofs in the U.S. are roll-roofing or tar and shingle combination but metal roofs have been gaining in popularity over the years and tile has always been popular out west.  I am a big proponent of metal roofing and if it is installed properly, it tends to hold up better against some of the more extreme conditions but even it can and will fail over time.  Regardless of the type of roof that may currently be installed on your bug in house/cabin, you will need to plan for its repair in the event of failure/damage.  Even small leaks will cause significant wood damage over time, which can and will make your structure uninhabitable eventually.

Necessary tools and supplies:

  • Rolls of Heavy Roof Felt or Roll Roofing
  • 4×8’ Plywood Sheeting (1/2 inch or thicker)
  • Visquine, Roll Plastic Sheeting, or Tarps
  • Roofing Nails
  • 8 Penny Nails
  • Bucket of Tar, Cool Seal, or Tubes of Tar
  • 2×4 Studs
  • Hand Saw
  • Hammer

Windows and Doors:

In the climate controlled world we live in today, most leave the windows in their house closed and I would imagine there are windows out there that have never been opened once since they were installed.  It is just the world that we happen to live in right now and it has even gotten to the point that you have to request or special order windows with screens.  Post SHTF, you might as well plan on using windows for their intended purpose, which is to allow air to circulate throughout your house when the temperature outside and weather conditions allow for it.  PJ wrote an article about how long it took for his house to become miserable when his A/C went out, well when the power is out, the A/C is out again.  You will need your windows post SHTF, so if you had plans to just board them all up, you might want to think again.  Also, if you own a home with decorative shutters, you might want to consider swapping them out with true shutters once they have live their useful life.  Window screens serve the purpose of allowing you to open your windows, without letting the insects in from the outside but screen material deteriorates over time.  Also, the seals on and around the windows will deteriorate and caulking the outside edges of windows can be an annual chore today.  You need to plan for what happens when a window is broken, maintaining seals, and caulking gaps now.

The gateways to our humble abodes provide us with a sense of security and a means of egress.  Hopefully, you did not go the decorative wood route with your exterior doors because the maintenance on those things tends to get out of hand without the SHTF event.  Even if you have composite exterior doors or metal doors, they will require maintenance, just like windows.  Locking mechanisms fail, hinges break, and the seals around the door eventually go bad.  If you have storm or screen doors covering your exterior doors, you will need to keep plenty of hardware on hand for them as well.  Securing doors post SHTF will be more important than it is today and making certain you have the tools necessary to repair them or reinforce them may become critical.

Necessary tools and supplies:

  • Window Screens (sized for each window or door)
  • Roll Screen Material
  • Caulk or Silicone with Caulking Gun
  • Basic Hardware Items (nuts, bolts, springs, screws)
  • Plywood Sheeting (boarding up or making shutters/doors)
  • 2×4 Studs
  • Hinges and Hinge Screws
  • Plastic Sheeting
  • Construction Stable Gun and Staples
  • Roofing Nails
  • Wire Snips or Tin Snips
  • Brace Bit or Egg Beater Hand Drill with Assorted Drill Bits
  • Assorted Wood and Metal Screws
  • Assorted Nuts, Bolts, and Washers
  • Lock Hasps with Assorted Hardware
  • Pad Locks
  • 16 Penny Nails
  • Screw Drivers
  • Flat Foam or Neoprene Seal Material
  • Extra Knob and Deadbolt (keyed to your current house)
  • Wood Chisel Set
  • Hammer
  • Hand Saw
  • Pliers


In a short term bug in situation, you will could have some significant issues with water by the way of broken water lines.  Make certain that you know where and how to turn the water off to your house and that others in your family know as well.  Trust me, there is nothing worse than a flooded house and post SHTF, I really could not imagine it.  While water service may be suspended in short term events or become non-existent following a long term event, it is always a good idea to have some supplies on hand to deal with leaking or broken pipes.  In some instances you may even want to get creative or if the water is never coming back on, having these supplies may come in handy for building makeshift showers or sinks.

Necessary tools and supplies:

  • PVC, Metal or Symtec Pipe
  • Associated Fittings (compression, Tee’s, elbows, sweeps, nipples, adapters, etc)
  • Glue or Attachment Clamps
  • Assorted Hose Clamps
  • Water Hoses
  • Adjustable Wrench
  • Pliers
  • Pipe Wrench
  • Hack Saw with Extra Blades

Other Areas:

Depending on the construction of your house, you will need to consider items for general exterior maintenance like paint or stain, extra siding or additional lumber.  If your home is equipped with natural gas, you will need to know how and where to turn the gas off as well as have the necessary tools on hand to do so.  Cleaning and maintaining the inside of your bug in location will also be a concern so you will need to plan to have brooms, mops, etc on hand to make certain that it is being taken care of as well.

Unless you happen to be a master carpenter, do not expect all of your repairs and maintenance to be “pretty”.  Post SHTF, effective is all that matters when it comes to maintaining your bug in location.  Some of the items that I mentioned above have a relatively short shelf life but those items can be rotated when you are doing normal home maintenance today.  Having a few common hand tools and some supplies on hand will put you ahead of the game, whether a hurricane is bearing down on you or the end of the world just happened.


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    • t42n24t2 on June 27, 2013 at 4:14 PM
    • Reply

    Whoa! Thank you very much. I never considered any of this, since there is always a handyman available. Time to start getting these things and learn how to use them.

      • Jprep on February 11, 2014 at 3:26 AM
      • Reply

      You can go to your local Lowe’s or other home retailer and purchase books on how to perform simple repairs yourself. They usually include detaled pictures and lists of tools that will be required to do basic repars. Handyman 101 type of stuff. And also know that there is no reason to buy the most expensive hand tools on the market but try and pick a reliable brand with a good warranty. And also remember that “Gimmicks sell” so don’t get caught up with buying all sorts of home handyman gadgets stick to the basics. You can even Google what those basic items should be according to many experts. Good luck

        • PJ on February 14, 2014 at 10:24 PM
        • Reply

        Funny you should mention home repair books, brings back memories of Bob Villa infomercials. I used to watch those as a kid and always wanted to order a set.

    • Rev. Dr. Michael E Harris on June 27, 2013 at 5:36 PM
    • Reply

    Too much outside maintenance just tells the ‘bad guys’ that you have the resources to maintain your property.

    • The Maj on June 27, 2013 at 10:40 PM
    • Reply

    True Rev. Harris, but as I stated above there is a “line” between being obvious and remaining obscure or hidden. Also, the amount of home maintenance or repair you will want to do will depend on the event. IE, if you happen to live in a hurricane or tornado prone area there is a reasonable expectation that things will return to normal eventually and you will want to have the capability to protect your structure as well as contents from further damage, while TEOTWAWKI will change the dynamics of what you want to do and how much to maintain while maintaining a low profile.

    Even in TEOTWAWKI your structure will be a target for roving bands and scavengers whether it is maintained or not. Unless, of course, your structure is hidden from the road completely and you do not have an obvious driveway/path leading to it.

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