Use winter to spruce up your Highveld home

Private Property South Africa
Jackie Gray-Parker

Highveld winters are known for being cold and dry, however it's the best time of year to spruce up your house.

Although the dry air doesn’t do your skin any favours, it’s actually the best time of year to spruce up your house, especially if, like so many others you have opted to stay put and make the most of your existing home.

When approaching a project of this nature, start by walking around the exterior of your house and make notes of the things that need to be attended to. Some of the most common exterior issues include wall and floor cracks, broken tiles, rusted window/door frames/burglar bars, blocked gutters, pool leaks, damp, loose bricks/ light fittings/ fascia boards, warped frames and various surfaces in need of painting.

Of course the interior can present problems too. Once you’re done inspecting the exterior, repeat the exercise inside. Issues which can crop up in the home include, amongst others, blocked drains, leaking taps, running toilets, damp, loose tiles/ wiring, roof leaks, cracks and blistered bathroom paint.

Yes, a lot can go wrong with a house. Given that it is the biggest investment you’ll ever make and a place you presumably take pride in, it’s important to attend to the issues before they become a problem.

Once you have an idea of what needs to be attended to, prioritise what needs to be sorted out first and decide whether or not you’re going to tackle it yourself or hire somebody to attend to it. Your ability to fix things and your budget will dictate your approach. If you don’t feel confident about doing something, rather hire a professional who will do a proper job for you.

The following tips should be of use when tackling some of the most common issues in and around your home this winter.


Cracks are one of the most common issues homeowners encounter. This is due largely to the fact that many South African homes are built on expansive soil which expands and contracts significantly according to climactic conditions.

Straightforward cracks are easy enough to deal with. If you come across a standard crack, remove all debris and dig down to solid material. Fill the crack with a good quality, flexible crack filler, allow to dry thoroughly and paint over it accordingly.

If it’s likely that the crack resulted from movement which will probably continue, you may have to consult a professional who can assist with repairing movement related cracks. The same applies to foundation cracks. Such cracks are better left to professionals.


The temperature and humidity levels play a role in whether or not a painting project will be successful. Highveld homes shouldn’t have any issues with humidity in winter but it’s important to keep in mind that cooler temperatures can prevent paint from curing properly so opt for a fairly warm day when undertaking any paint related work.

Of course the amount of painting that needs to be done and your budget will dictate whether or not it’s a project that you can tackle on your own. It’s easy enough to paint a room on your own over a weekend. It’s a different situation entirely when an entire house needs to be painted. Either way you will have to set aside time and money to undertake a paint job. It’s also worth investing in good quality paint which has superior coverage properties and will last longer.


As is the case with cracks, there are different types of damp. Depending on the nature of the damp and how long it’s been left, it can be relatively easy or downright difficult to deal with. In all cases of penetrating and rising damp it’s best to engage the services of a reputable waterproofing company which will be able to assist you with a comprehensive plan to tackle the problem.

Blocked gutters and downspouts:

Blocked gutters and downspouts can cause roof leaks and water damage around the foundations of your home if left unchecked. Loose leaves, plant debris and old nesting material left by birds are often the cause of blocked gutters and downspouts and should be cleared at least once or twice a year. Unless a blocked gutter or downspout has been damaged or you cannot unblock it yourself, this should be a relatively straightforward task to attend to and should only require the use of a ladder and some gloves to clear any detritus.

Steel window frames:

If you have steel window frames which are showing signs of rust and wear, don’t just paint over them as you will only be masking problems. Strip the frames down to the steel with a good paint stripper and use a paint scraper and sandpaper to remove any old, residual paint. Treat any rusted areas with an appropriate rust treatment product and allow to dry thoroughly. Once treated, you can use a primer, following which you can paint your frames with a quality acrylic enamel. The higher quality the better as it should last longer.

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