Importance of home maintenance

The cost of homeownership doesn’t end with the purchase price – home maintenance must be included in any annual budget.

Every homeowner knows that the joy of ownership comes with the responsibility of repairing each and every small and large thing that goes wrong in a home and on a property, and that inevitably, issues around repairs crop up regularly. This is the case for all homes, though obviously age and location have a greater or lesser effect. When it comes to home maintenance, it pays to heed the advice of Emily Dickinson, who once said, “If you take care of the small things, the big things take care of themselves.”How to plan for annual maintenance

Start a home-maintenance fund:

It’s important to include home-maintenance into an annual budget and set aside an amount into a designated fund every month. Mike Greeff CEO of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate suggests setting aside one to three percent of your purchase price if you have purchased within the past two years. If you purchased three or more years ago, request a property valuation from an experienced estate agent, and calculate one to three percent from that amount.

“Having the security of a fund allows you to ensure that you can perform important maintenance tasks regularly and take on  repairs as and when they crop up,” says Greeff, adding that neglecting maintenance  inevitably leads to compounding of which  become so much more expensive, and  could have been avoided.

Seasonal checks.

Summer

Summer in the Western Cape, with its dry, sunny days is the perfect time to check your roof and repair any cracks to ensure that your home is leak-free when the winter rains come. This is also the ideal time to damp-proof your walls and repair any damage already caused; Damp marks on ceilings are indications of roof leaks and bubbling and blistering paint is a sign of damp.

External walls, doors and windows must be regularly checked – cracks must be mended and wood treated and varnished to avoid rot which leads to contraction and inevitably to leaks.

March is a good time to cut back overgrown trees to minimise the chance of falling bough sand resultant damage to your buildings and property during winter storms.

Autumn

Clear your gutters regularly during late summer and autumn months when dry leaves accumulate, and ensure that down pipes are unblocked and draining properly. Sagging gutters must be repaired.

Have your chimney cleaned and your fireplace serviced, particularly if it is a wood-burning stove. The same is true for a gas fire.

Winter

This is the perfect time to prepare your garden. If you’re going to invest in your garden, consult with a landscaper who will assess your soil and the positions available in your garden. A well-researched and thoughtfully landscaped garden will mean a significant saving in money and time in the long run. Planting the wrong plant in the wrong location either results in a failure to thrive or huge plants which cover the windows of a house and block out light, or trees with roots that buckle brickwork and paving.

Spring

Spring is the ideal season to paint your home. This is also the time to discard rusted or beyond repair  items such as garden furniture or awnings damaged by wind and rain.

Boreholes should be serviced annually in spring. Maintenance of the pump and fixtures can help to prolong the life of certain borehole components. The same is true of garden irrigation systems.

General

Attend to loose or creaky timber floors, as these can be an indication of a faulty or dropped sub-floor structure.

If you install new electric fixtures such as remote-controlled gates or garage doors or an electrified fence, ensure that you receive a certificate of compliance from your electrician. The same is true for gas installations.

Plumbing

Drains should be cleaned regularly in order to avoid blockage.

Check your water meter and your rates bills and if you suspect a leak, it pays to have a qualified leak detector do a thorough check and repair the problem in order to save in the long run.

Do it yourself.

Save money by doing minor repairs yourself obviously depending on your comfort with a hammer and drill.

Regular home maintenance is key when it comes to trying to sell your property as it can be tremendously stressful when you have a huge amount of costly repairs which have accumulated during your occupation.   “Even a dated property will sell if it’s neat, but in the current market, you have to be a step ahead of the buyer, and this means eliminating the need for repair,” says Greeff. He suggests a thorough inspection of the building by a qualified building contractor who is a member of the Master Builders & Allied Trades Association.