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From ancient China and ancient Rome to the present, the building point is the same: Wood doesn’t last unless it is properly protected.

So if you want your home to last anywhere nearly as long as the Coliseum in Rome or the Forbidden City in Beijing, then you will need to take a few precautions.

There are several areas of concern:

* Fire: Most homes that catch fire don’t burn down completely if the fire is caught ealy. So it is wise to have smoke-detector protection in every room. If you can possibly afford it, you may want to have your home connected to a company that will monitor your smoke detectors. Most alarm companies do this.

If a smoke or heat detector is activated in the home, the monitoring company is automatically alerted and they will immediately call the fire department.

This kind of service can cost you less than $15 or $20 per month. When you think about how much you pay for homeowners insurance, it is a small price to pay for such complete protection.

By the way, many insurance companies offer big discounts for home with monitored systems. In some cases, much of the monitoring cost can be offset by an insurance premium discount.

* Water: It can do more damage to a home than any other force of nature. And the two most common reasons for damage are leaks through the exterior (roof and walls), and water under the home.

These are not easy to prevent and require regular maintenance and attention.

When it comes to roof leaks, keep in mind that the sheetmetal penetrations and connections are the most common leak points. This is because most roofing materials typically outlast most sheetmetal flashings. If you want a more leak-free roof, make sure that the sheetmetal flashings on your roof are kept clean, free of rust and painted.

Missing wind-blown shingles should be replaced immediately. To find out if shingles are missing in the first place, simply get a pair of binoculars, stand away from the house and take a look.

Siding, siding trim, windows and window trim and doors and door trim should be caulked annually. Yes, annually. There is only one way to prevent Mother Nature from destroying your home and that is to keep the door closed to water damage. Nothing rots wood faster than a water leak. Our professional opinion is that more damage is done to wood structures by water than any number of fires ever.

Water under the home can rot your frame floor and cause incredible amounts of mildew. Over-watering the garden, not having downspouts and downspout extensions, can allow rain and irrigation water to flow beneath the home. These are easily controlled problems that can be managed at a minimum cost.

* Pests: None of us wants to think about termites and other structural pests. However, most of us must contend with this problem. When was the last time you had a structural pest control operator (termite contractor) inspect your home? Our guess is that it occurred last when you purchased your home.

A termite inspection is only a few hundred bucks and can save you a lot of grief if pests are found early on. Keep in mind that termites don’t attack the whole house all at once. They congregate in specific areas.

If your home is made of stone, don’t worry about. However, if it is constructed from wood, then remember the Forbidden City and the floor of the Coliseum. Learn more about fire, water and pests.

For more home improvement tips and information visit our Web site at www.onthehouse.com or call us at (800) 737-2474 every Saturday, 9 a.m. to 1 p.m. EST.