Hey everyone, here’s a New Year’s resolution that will take less than an hour and could save you thousands of dollars over the years. That sounds better than spending a few hundred dollars to join a gym and use a treadmill 10 times in January, doesn’t it?
To most people preventive maintenance is a boring (or even dreaded) topic. However, it’s the best way to keep your home expenses minimized and as predictable as possible. Here I am going to provide some rules of thumb and general tips. A lot of people claim to “forget” to do some of these things, but the fact is that with Google calendar, Outlook, iCal, etc. there is no excuse to skip your maintenance. Set up a reminder that automatically goes off every few months and bask in the glory that is saving money by putting in a very tiny amount of time and elbow grease. Here is a Q&A to get at the important ideas here:
1. How much does home maintenance cost per year? Usually 1%-3% of the home’s value.
2. How often should I inspect my house? At least every 6 months.
3. Who should do the maintenance? It really depends on your skill level. You can save money doing some things yourself, but for some items (such as electrical work) it’s usually best left to a professional.
4. Is there a ‘method’ to inspecting your home? Yes, most of the time it’s a good idea to start from the bottom up. A lot of the damage that can happen to a home results from moisture traveling down your home’s structure.
5. Will this be a huge undertaking? Not usually. One of the biggest things is to just CLEAN. Cleaning out shrubberies, debris, and other items from gutters, window wells and other edges and corners can work wonders over time. Keeping trees trimmed and under control is very important. Other times, you may notice cracks in drywall, asphalt or masonry. If they are major, a repair is probably in order. Note: do these repairs well or they cost much more in the long run.
6. What moving items should I check? Make sure doors and windows open and close and that all safety features are functional. Sometimes, you may need to lubricate some moving parts.
7. Should I include non-attached items in my inspections? Yes. Clean up your lawn implements and equipment, etc.
8. What should I check in the main living area of my place? Look around for mold, moisture and cracking in the home. Check floors for evenness and look at caulking around the bathrooms. Flush out sinks on a regular basis (if you don’t like chemicals, a full sink basin of hot water can do a good job). Make sure to take care of any slow-moving drains.
9. What about appliances and electrical items? These definitely need checking. Replace furnace filters often (forgetting to do this can cause MAJOR problems). VERY IMPORTANT: check your smoke detector AND CO detector. Every couple years, it’s a good idea to clean out the dryer exhaust (and, of course, clean the lint filter every time you use the dryer). A quick check of the pressure relief valve on your hot water heater is usually a good idea.
10. What about safety equipment? Make sure your flashlight and fire extinguisher are working well.
Wasn’t that a fun list? Well, if you make it into checklist form and are pretty diligent, you can save a lot of money over time. It isn’t glamorous, but the higher-than-expected bank account balance and ease of selling your home can be.