Regular home maintenance pays big dividends

One way to keep maintenance “doable” is to pick one room per year to improve.

If you think of home maintenance as an unavoidable series of weekend-eating chores, remember prevention is easier than cure. Proactive maintenance is essential to preserving the value of your home—without it the value of your home will be affected.

Regular, routine maintenance enhances the value of your home, ensures safety, and prevents neglected upkeep from turning into costly major repairs.

Most expensive repair problems start as small, hardly noticable wear and tear issues. Weathered varnish, sealant and putty on wooden windows, or maybe deteriorating acrylic flashing at roof intersections.

It may not seem like much, but behind that failed seal, water could penetrate the wood causing rot. Before you know it, you’re looking at a R5 000 repair that could have been prevented by a R20 tube of sealant and a half hour of your time.”

Maintenance affects property value

Outright damage to your house is just one of the consequences of neglected maintenance. Without regular upkeep, overall property values are affected.  If a house is in worn condition and shows a lack of preventative maintenance, the property could easily lose 10 per cent or more of its value.  That could translate into a R100 000 or more adjustment.”

In addition, an owner of a house with chipped, fading or blistering paint,sagging gutters and worn carpeting faces an uphill battle when it comes time to sell. Not only is the house at a disadvantage in comparison with other similar homes that might be for sale in the neighbourhood, but a dilapidated appearance is bound to turn off prospective buyers and depress the selling price.

Maintenance is not just about preventing little problems from becoming big problems.  A  recent study suggests that maintenance actually increases the value of a house by about one per cent each year, meaning that getting off the couch and heading outside with a tube of sealant is more than simply a chore—it actually makes money.

It’s like going to the gym. You have to put in the effort to see the results. In that respect, people and houses are somewhat similar—the older (they are), the more work is needed.

How much money is required for annual maintenance varies. Some years, routine tasks, such as cleaning gutters and touching up paintwork are all that’s needed, and your total expenditures may be a few hundred rands. Other years may include major replacements, such as a new roof, at a cost of R50 000 or more.

Over time, annual maintenance costs average at least per cent of  the initial house price. That means owners of a R2-million house should plan to budget R20 000 per year for ongoing upkeep and replacements.

Proactive maintenance strategies

Knowing these average costs can help homeowners be prepared.Commercial real estate investors save annually to cover anticipated future maintenance costs – to make sure they have enough cash on hand for replacing systems and materials.”

Homeowners should adopt a similar strategy –  setting aside a cash reserve that’s used strictly for home repair and maintenance. That way,  finding the cash for routine upkeep is no problem and significant replacements won’t wreck the family budget.

Other strategies:

  • Proactive maintenance is key to preventing small problems from becoming big issues. Take the initiative with regular inspections. Create and faithfully follow a maintenance schedule. If you’re unsure of what needs to be done, a R2000 to R3000 occasional visit from a professional home inspector can be invaluable in pointing out quick fixes and potential problems.
  • Plan a room-per-year upgrade. Pick a different room every year and go through it, fixing and improving as you go,.  This helps keep maintenance fun and interesting.
  • Keep records. Keep a record of all your maintenance and upgrades, along with receipts.  This is a powerful tool when it comes to sell your home and calculating capital gains tax,  A properly documented maintenance schedule is like a full service history for a car.  It gets rid of any doubts for the buyer, and it says you are a meticulous, caring homeowner. A maintenance record also proves repairs and replacements for systems, such as wiring and plumbing, which might not be readily apparent.

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