Homeowners today know less about their homes than at any point in history. What elements make it a house, how they work, and what maintenance is required to keep them working… mostly a mystery. A number of recent, first time home-buyers admit they underestimated the time and cost required to properly maintain their home. This leads to deferred maintenance, which in turn can lead to serious and expensive repairs. How did this happen? When did we become inattentive to protecting our favorite investment and how can we correct it?
Take time to learn
One thing we could all use more of is time. Things like family, work, entertainment, & [social] media occupy more of our schedule than ever before. It can be hard to find the time to prepare a proper meal, let alone figure out why there is a slow drip under the kitchen sink. If being a homeowner is a priority then make sure you have the time to give your house the attention it deserves.
Put in the work to learn as much as you can about your home as a whole so that you can not only maintain it, but also identify issues that may arise and get them corrected. Start out by doing some research. There are numerous home improvement blogs out there and reputable organizations (like HouseMaster) providing [free] education to homeowners. Read up on routine maintenance tasks, how often you should be doing them, and how involved they are. Decide what you are willing and able to do yourself and what you will hire out. Speaking of hiring things out… have you budgeted for that?
Save for the inevitable
When it comes to your home, you can’t simply set aside the monthly mortgage payment, taxes, and insurance and call it a day. Realistically, you will spend an average of 1-3% of the home’s value on maintenance every year. That is why saving for both routine maintenance and unexpected repairs is so important. When things get financially tough it can be too easy to put off the seasonal HVAC tune up or ignore the paint chipping on the exterior. Consider the expression “a stitch in time saves nine.” Meaning, spend a little time and money now to avoid a potentially much larger issue down the road. Deferred maintenance becomes expensive repairs and ultimately a reduced home value.
Partner with the right professionals
It certainly helps to know the right people in the real estate and home improvement industries. Have a good Realtor on speed dial. Even if you’re not in the market to sell or buy right now, they can offer priceless advice to ensure you are prepared when the time is right.
Also, partner with a good home inspector (HouseMaster for example). If you are considering selling your current home have them perform a pre-listing inspection. This will help you financially prepare for what needs to be fixed before putting it on the market, or give you an idea of what buyer’s might ask for on an inspection response. A professional inspection [that you attend] when purchasing a home is a must. Not only will you receive a full picture of what work needs to be done, but also learn about important elements of your new home and what condition they are in.
Finally, find a contractor or handyman you can trust! You’ll want to work with someone that won’t do or charge you for unnecessary repairs and knows what they’re doing to ensure a long-term fix. It certainly helps if they are willing to educate you and thoroughly explain all of your options.
One thing we know for sure is that at some point your home will require some work. Make sure you are prepared with the knowledge, finances, and professional assistance to get the job done right!
This article was co-authored by F.C. Tucker Home Services & Alan Peterson with IndyNorth HouseMaster
IndyNorth HouseMaster – (317) 844-6873 – indynorth.housemaster.com