Shoulda, woulda, coulda…
Don’t make that your mantra when it comes to your home’s maintenance!
Preventative maintenance is worth your time and money NOW to avoid costly home disasters later. You don’t want to be the one saying, “I should’ve caulked those windows for a few bucks a tube,” when faced with a $2,000 repair bill for mold and water damage.
Schedule and Record It
To prevent that scenario and others, now is a perfect time to create your own maintenance list to keep your home in tip top shape.
You can go old school with a binder and paper, or go more virtual with an app or online system.
Your list should include a schedule of when certain tasks need to be done, perhaps by month. This will help you stay on task. For example, October: gutters cleaned.
Also keep a record of maintenance tasks and purchases in one place. This file should contain information on:
- repair dates
- contractor information
- store and contractor receipts
- model numbers and manufacturer information
Maintenance costs can vary from year to year, depending on whether you are faced with a larger project (i.e., replacing a roof) or not. But on average, most owners should budget 1% of their initial home’s price for maintenance and put that money aside. Keep in mind, older houses may require more work and $ to upkeep.
You may spend just a couple of hundred dollars some years but having a reserve fund will prevent you from being blindsided by a major project, like a new roof or tree removal.
Here are some items to add to your own list:
- Tune up your HVAC system in the fall and spring before you need to heat or cool your home. You don’t want any surprises on a cold winter night!
- Consider getting a service contract with a company to provide routine maintenance and get priority if an emergency arises. They will call you so you don’t have to think about it!
- Change your filters regularly. Check them monthly and change at least every three months. Dirty filters slow down air flow and waste energy. Plus, dirt build up can lead to system failures or maintenance issues.
- Keep your eye out for any leaks in walls, ceilings, around toilets, etc. A small leak can lead to a major disaster! Carefully inspect older plumbing, especially if it’s on the second floor.
- Upgrade your system and make sure you have dedicated circuits for appliances and grounded outlets for all of your needs. This is a safety issue and the cost of an electrician is well worth it.
- Follow manufacturer’s directions to prevent misuse and costly mishaps.
- Keep clean to avoid yucky build-up on dishwashers, washing machines, driers, and refrigerators.
- Keep these clean with regular washings to prevent unsightly stains and dirt.
- Refinish wood floors when needed before they are too worn out! Stain and seal to protect them.
- Clean windows and screens at least once a year but better yet in the spring and fall.
- Pollen, dirt and other debris can build up and sometimes bake on from the sun, making it nearly impossible to clean if left on too long.
- Check caulking around windows and fix when needed to prevent air leakage and water damage.
- Promptly repair peeling paint and rotting shingles, which can lead to water damage and mold growth.
- Power wash vinyl siding every other year to prevent bacteria from growing and staining.
- Fix damaged or missing shingles to prevent leaks and mold in the attic.
- Replace roof when necessary. Asphalt roofs last 20-25 years; slate roofs can last forever if no sun damage but individual slate replacement can be expensive so budget for that.
- Get it cleaned professionally once a year, especially if you use it regularly.
- Examine it for loose bricks and mortar and get it repointed. The earlier you catch this, the better, in order to avoid water damage and having to rebuild a new chimney.
- Keep these cleaned regularly in spring and fall, when debris and leaves are most likely the heaviest.
- Cluttered gutters can lead to water damage and standing water, which can freeze in the winter causing the gutters to pull away from the house.
- Keep your trees trimmed and healthy. Look for dead branches and dangerous overhangs close to your home. You don’t want any surprises during a storm!
- Overgrown bushes can be a comfy home for mice and other creatures. Keep them neat and trimmed below window level.
- Follow your deck’s maintenance instructions each year, which might include cleaning it with a mild bleach solution to prevent mold.
- Pressure treated decks can become dry and splintered, so stain or seal regularly.
- Pull weeds from patios before they take root and cause damage.
You may be saying to yourself, “Not more things to add to my To-Do List!!”
However, preventative maintenance is not only important for avoiding costly repairs but also preserving your home’s value. Your home is probably your biggest investment and you want to make sure it doesn’t lose its value in the current real estate market.
A poorly kept house in a worn condition can lose up to 10% of its appraised value, according to many home inspectors. At some point, when you sell your home, you don’t want to be faced with a home with major issues that drag down its selling points.
Let me know if you have any questions about your home maintenance and if you need any recommendations for some service providers. Sometimes it can be an easy DIY job but other times you may need a professional and I have a good list of recommendations if you need any.
I'm Mike and I love helping buyers discover what's really important in their forever home, then working to find that in Chicago's
Northwest Suburbs. I also have a soft spot in my heart for teachers and love giving back to them whenever I can. Let me know how I can help you make your real estate dreams come true.
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