Property professionals agree – nothing maintains your home’s value better than regular maintenance. A good home maintenance plan will safeguard against mishaps such as clogged drains, burst pipes and leaking roofs. A preventative maintenance plan will also guard against an insurer rejecting a claim due to maintenance-related faults.
The condition of a property is often a deciding factor in securing a buyer, and the interior and exterior being in prime condition will make it more attractive and easier to sell.
Over time, annual maintenance costs on average around 1 percent of a property’s value. So, if your home cost R2 million you should plan to budget R20 000 a year for ongoing upkeep, repairs and special projects – from the weekly garden service to annual chimney and roof check-ups and repairs.
The best way to keep on top of home maintenance is to have a systematic maintenance programme, including regular weekly or monthly tasks as well as seasonal and annual jobs. The plan should cover a home’s general appearance, including manicuring the lawns and caring for plant life, and repairing plumbing, electrical, heating and air conditioning problems.
The basics would include:
- Clear drains and gutters before the rainy season.
- Attend to broken glass, perished putty and rusted window frames as quickly as possible.
- Touch up chipped and peeling paint regularly to avoid expansion.
- Call in pest control services as required.
- Replace faulty globes.
- Check for and repair any water leaks.
- Check the main electrical panel for rust or water marks which would indicate moisture penetration. Periodically turn all breakers off and on to ensure they are in working order. All fuses should be tightened. If the panel is warm to the touch or smells of burned insulation, contact an electrician. Keep the area around the panel clear for easy access.
Ideally, you should have cash available to cover emergency repairs and large occasional expenses. You could set up a separate savings or credit card account for these, and deposit funds each month so that you don’t end up paying steep credit card interest for a major repair. If you have a big expense, be sure to replenish the account for the next big-ticket job. Where possible, do the jobs yourself to save on labour costs, and hire professionals for dangerous or especially difficult jobs. Two or three pairs of hands can make the most difficult jobs much easier. Offer to help neighbours with their routine repair projects and they will return the favour when you need them.
To do the hard work, you’ll need a list of reliable artisans, starting with a handyman or general contractor who can handle a broad range of jobs. Since contractors usually charge a call-out fee, wait until you have at least two or three jobs that can be done all at once.
Ask around for the names of an electrician, a plumber, a carpenter and a painter. With each, start with small projects to be sure you’re satisfied with their work.
Doors and windows – Replace broken or cracked panes of glass and apply new putty where needed. Finishes should be checked for paint deterioration and rot. Also ensure that all seals around doors and windows keep drafts out. Correct insulation around doors and windows will result in big savings on heating and cooling costs. Check that door frames are properly fitted. Bent door frames or those showing some movement during a relatively short period such as six months may indicate structural problems.
Roofs – Inspect tiled roofs for damaged, loose or missing tiles which should be repaired or replaced, as a leaking roof can cause serious water damage. Check flat roofs for any blistering or bubbles. Make sure all debris is cleared from the roof and cut away any trees or branches that make contact with the roof.
Chimneys – Check for loose or damaged bricks or mortar and have chimneys swept professionally once a year to remove build-up of creosote and other flammable by-products inside the chimney flue, if you burn wood. For gas-burning appliances, a licensed gas technician should be called to check that they are operating properly.
Gutters – Keep gutters and downpipes clear of leaves and debris to prevent clogging. They should also be checked for blockages and leaks from holes or joints. Some sections may need to be re-secured to walls or re-sloped to ensure they operate correctly. Remember to always make sure that water drains away from the house.
Paint – adds more than just aesthetic appeal to a home, it also acts as a protective layer against the elements. Paint prevents metal areas from rusting and wooden areas from rotting. Repaint sections that have blistered or bubbled, peeled or cracked.
Walls and ceilings – should be inspected for cracks in interior finishes and any damp areas. Fill any cracks and voids to allow for easy monitoring of movement between inspections. Note any water stains on the interiors and monitor regularly. Moisture or damp within walls will cause paint to bubble, and damp in the ceiling could cause sagging or even collapse.
Patios and decks – Wooden decks must be properly sealed. If water is poured onto the deck and it beads the sealing is intact, but if the water is absorbed, the wood must be sanded down and resealed. All wooden sections should also be checked for rot and insect infestation. Also ensure that steps and railings are properly secured.
Fixtures – Check for any leaking taps in the kitchen or bathrooms, which usually result from washers that need to be replaced. Make sure toilets are sealed and secured to the floor. Listen for toilets that run continuously. Check grouting and sealant around all bathroom fixtures and renew as necessary. The smallest amount of water seepage through the grouting can cause mould and rot behind tiles.
Garages – Inspect the walls of the structure for cracks, damp and evidence of movement. Check all wooden components for evidence of rot or insect infestation and paint or treat as necessary.
Driveways and pavements – Check these areas for cracks and wear, and correct hazardous uneven sections. Redirect sections that cause surface water run-off towards the house.