A common reason for many people to rent rather than buy is home maintenance. When the roof leaks or the air conditioner quits on you, they like knowing they can call the landlord or property manager to come to the rescue.
Yes, maintenance is an ongoing part of home ownership and can be expensive and frustrating. Problems will arise – even in new construction. But many problems can be avoided, or at least resolved on your schedule, by following a regular maintenance schedule.
Take it from the top
Every house is different, but here’s a basic list of things you should do periodically to protect your investment:
Inspect your roof or pay a professional to check it out for you, especially if there’s been severe weather. Hail is particularly damaging.
Head up to your attic and look for any roof leaks and signs of termites or rodents. Squirrels or rats nesting in your attic are not particular about what they chew, and they sometimes gnaw electrical wiring, which can lead to damaged infrastructure or fire.
Check out the paint on your home. It seems cosmetic, but paint is a first line of defense against the weathering and aging of wood. Also, damaged paint can indicate the start of a larger problem. Brick, stucco and siding should be inspected as well.
Depending on the level of traffic, hardwood floors should be refinished every five to 10 years. If they get too worn down, you risk permanent damage to the wood.
Check for leaks in any room that has plumbed fixtures.
In some older homes, cast iron was used for the wastewater lines. These pipes eventually fail. If the seepage is under the foundation, you’ll probably never notice, but it may be worth it to have a professional plumber come check it out. If the leak gets bad enough, it can damage your foundation.
Watch for cracks in the walls or other signs of foundation issues. The main cause of foundation problems, whether pier and beam or slab, is fluctuations in the moisture content of the soil. If the soil beneath a foundation swells uniformly or shrinks uniformly, it is unlikely to cause a problem. When only part of the foundation moves, though, you’re likely to see signs of damage.
Your efforts will pay off
Deferring repairs and maintenance will catch up to you eventually. If you end up selling your house, you’ll have to do the work anyway or accept a lower price to compensate for the house’s condition. Even if you never sell, large problems will surface in time that you’ll need to address.
One of the best things about homeownership is that your investment typically appreciates over time. In order to support that appreciation, though, the home must be well-maintained.
Home maintenance is like a trip to the dentist – not many of us look forward to it, but it’s necessary, it pays off, and not doing it will definitely cost you in the long run. Protect your biggest asset by diligently maintaining your home.