After an exceptionally challenging year, consumers are really starting to feel the pinch and many homeowners are understandably tempted to extend home maintenance timeframes and overlook small repairs to stretch their budgets.
However, this could prove very costly in the long run because when it comes to home maintenance, the old adage, “a stitch in time saves nine” really does apply, cautions Steve Thomas, veteran agent and Secure Estate Specialist for Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in Constantiaberg.
“This could prove to be especially problematic if you’re planning to sell down the line because if your home needs a lot of work, it’s likely to remain on the market for longer than similar homes that need less additional spend.
Whilst it’s true that there are DIY enthusiasts out there looking for big renovation projects, buyers generally prefer homes that are immediately habitable, or at least ones that don’t need extensive renovations and repairs.
He adds that even if you aren’t planning to sell in the near future, if you let maintenance slide, when you do decide to sell you could be in for a shock at the cost of making all the necessary repairs.
“Repairing damaged carpets, ceilings and paintwork after a geyser has burst or replacing an entire gutter system, will probably cost more than servicing or timeously replacing an old geyser or repairing a faulty strip of gutter.”
There are, of course a few issues that can be postponed, like replacing a chipped tile or a fixing a wonky bath tap, but according to Thomas, there are several that absolutely should not be ignored:
Roofs and gutters – ‘Out of sight, out of mind’ can be a dangerous thing, especially when it comes to critical features like roofing and gutters. They should be regularly checked for wind and storm damage, loose tiles, gaps in the flashing and damage around chimneys. And clearing the gutters should be a regular task as overflows can damage paint, plaster and brickwork and blockages could cause gutters to collapse.
Plumbing and electrical systems - Visible water pipes, particularly flexible hoses, should be examined for cracks, leaks or rust and dripping taps and leaking cisterns must be repaired. The electrical distribution box and fuses should be checked for signs of blackening and visible cables must be examined for worn insulation or exposed wires and signs of shorting.
Cracks in the plaster work - Small, hairline cracks aren’t an issue and can (and should) be easily fixed with epoxy sealant but anything larger could signal problems. While you’re looking for cracks, also take note of any bulging or buckling. If you notice any of these signs, have them professionally inspected and repaired right away.
Protect your foundation - If anything goes wrong with your foundation walls — serious cracks, uneven settling — you could be in for one of the most expensive home repair jobs possible. Every year, check to make sure the soil around your house slopes sufficiently away from your foundation to stave off serious structural problems.
Water leaks – Never ignore a water leak because, if left unattended, small leakages will compound over time, resulting in significant leakage that can be difficult – and costly - to fix at once. Never underestimate any leakage in your house and seek the assistance of professionals to immediately repair any sort of damage in your pipes.
Mould and mildew – Contrary to popular belief, these aren’t simply a sign of poor housekeeping and they can – and do - appear in a clean home. Any time water invades your home in unexpected places, these toxic substances can grow. Signs to be aware of are musty, stale-smelling air, bubbled areas in paint or wallpaper, or chronic sinus symptoms with no other cause.
Thomas says that although older homes often need more upkeep and repair, home owners and sellers shouldn’t become complacent just because their property is no more than a decade or two old. “The earlier you catch problems, the less likely they are to become costly and difficult to repair.
“One of the estates where we regularly market properties recently sent out a circular wherein they notified us of certain maintenance issues that were mandatory for property owners – and for the Home Owners Association clearance certificate that is required for each sale.
“And if an owner sells ‘Voetstoots” then the buyer must agree to undertake and remedy any items noted on the certificate at their cost and before the transfer is put through, which would deter many buyers, especially if there is a similar property for sale on the estate in a better condition.”
Thomas says that another benefit of keeping to a regular maintenance schedule will help ensure you can handle many of the necessary repairs yourself.
“They are usually easily manageable, small and inexpensive jobs when you treat them as preventative tasks, however, they can become enormous undertakings if you let them slide.
“For instance, if you paint the exterior of the house in one stage, the interior next, garages and outbuildings and perimeter walls in following stages you will avoid the costs of one big paint job.
“Doing it this way, you could probably pay for painting your home from monthly income rather than dipping into savings or worse, getting further into debt.”