Do you have a home maintenance strategy? We haven't found a widely accepted home owner's manual, so unless you inherited a strategy from relatives or a neighbor you respect, chances are you don't have a strategy for ongoing home maintenance.
Along with a strategy, you need a budget for non-operating home expenses. Spending more time on inexpensive maintenance tasks, will let you save money to replace key home systems like a new furnace or roof. With consistent home maintenance, you can extend the life of these systems and allocate more of your home budget to updating your home like a bathroom remodel or granite counter tops in the kitchen. Makes sense, right?
Home Maintenance Priorities
Following a home maintenance strategy is more about finding a schedule that works for you and your lifestyle. It's also important that with limited time, you prioritize your efforts to gain the most benefit. Here are recommended priorities, starting with the most important:
- Personal safety is the top priority focusing on security (dead bolt locks and motion sensitive lighting), fire (smoke detectors and fire escape ladders) and injury avoidance (handrails, grab bars and more).
- Preventing water damage comes next as water is your home's worst enemy. Cleaning gutters, inspecting all exterior seams and caulking gaps are examples of how to water out of your home.
- Repairing water damage is next because once water gets behind your home's siding or under roofing shingles, moisture builds up and supports the growth of wood destroying micro-organisms, termites and/or mold.What most homeowners don't realize is the moisture travels through the wood and the scope of the damage increases over time, adding to repair costs.
- Maintaining your home systems is the next priority, to reduce energy costs and extend the life of these systems. You can handle things like changing furnace filters while an annual tune-up of your furnace, air conditioning system and hot water heater should be handled by qualified home professionals.
- Improving your home's energy efficiency comes next. There are big ticket items like replacing older windows and appliances and low cost items like a programmable thermostat, more insulation in the attic or wrapping your hot water and pipes with insulating materials.
- Basic home maintenance might fall at the bottom of the list but it's got the most potential projects. Exterior maintenance can include cleaning, repairs/replacing a mailbox, shutters, gates and fences, wood or vinyl siding, painting and much more. Inside you'll periodically need to repair or replace your garbage disposal and exhaust fans, faucets and toilets, repair sheet rock (also called drywall), flooring and so much more.
After routine home maintenance, your budget should cover larger projects like replacing a roof or deck, and optional updates like updating a bathroom, installing a new fence, adding on a sun room and more. While I've said these updates are optional, some of them will influence the price of your home when it comes time to sell. As you plan these projects, it's always worthwhile to see how they compare to the most recent Remodeling Magazine's “cost versus value” data.
Pick Your Home Maintenance Strategy
Now that you understand why a home maintenance strategy is important, it's critical that you find a strategy to fit your personality and lifestyle. Why? It's far more important that you implement a strategy year after year, than following someone else's “perfect strategy” that isn't comfortable so you give up or don't follow through next year, and the year after.
While the list here might not be complete (we'd love to hear about other novel home maintenance strategies so send Tina an email, or leave a comment below) it does illustrate a wide range of strategies for home maintenance. Many of these ideas stem from homeowners calling my handyman business. The two strategies that amaze me the most are event driven and , ipeople who decide to make repairs because they're having a graduation party or company will be visiting from overseas. The hope is We hope our checklists will take the mystery out of maintaining your home, and we welcome your feedback on how we can improve them. First let's look at the ways people approach home maintenance:
- Event driven home maintenance
- Company is coming for an extended visit, especially from overseas
- When something breaks or you find a leak
- Family event like a wedding or special company
- Schedule driven home maintenance
- Seasonal checklist … most common
- Monthly checklist
- Room-by-room checklist for cleaning and maintenance
- Family projects, i.e. attic when putting holiday decorations away
- Project driven home maintenance
- Painting 1-2 rooms each year
- Updating a bathroom
- Re-decorating the living room
- Setting up a home office
- Home buyer or seller maintenance
- Buyers create the home they bought, in first 6 to 12 months
- Sellers start to fix known problems 6 to 12 months before selling
- Seller home inspections identify problems to fix before listing
- Budget driven home maintenance
- Budgeting % of assessed home value
- Allocating % of disposable income
There isn't one right way to maintain your home. What's important is picking one approach and sticking with it. If you fix things when they break, great. If you prioritize by project, then keep a running list of items in one place and use it as a guide to select the next project. Just knowing there is a list will reduce your stress!
The biggest challenge often is finding one approach that works for you AND your significant other.