What is home maintenance?
Home maintenance involves checking for and fixing problems around your house. The whole point of home maintenance is caring for the structure, fixtures and fittings of your property. Home maintenance ensures that your home remains safe, secure and that everything works properly so you’re comfortable living in it.
After your car, your home is the most expensive asset you own. This is why maintaining your property is so important. It’s unlikely that you neglect to take your car for its regular services, and the same must be said for home maintenance. Taking care of your home means taking care of its value.
How much should you spend on home maintenance?
The general rule of thumb for setting your home maintenance budget is to give yourself roughly 1% of your property value every year. For a property that is worth R2.5 million, you should be budgeting R25 000 for ongoing upkeep, repairs and special projects annually.
This should cover the weekly pool or garden service, air-conditioning and gas appliance inspections and services, provide the funds to purchase the consumables (paint, varnish, window glass etc) necessary to keep your home looking good and running properly.
Why is home maintenance important?
Having a home maintenance plan in place and checking everything routinely can prevent small problems from snowballing into bigger emergencies. Preventative home maintenance is exactly that – it’s taking care of the small things in order to prevent big problems that cost lots of money. Not only is it cheaper to take care of problems before they become bigger, but a preventative home maintenance plan will also make it less likely that your home insurer rejects any claim on the grounds of maintenance-related faults.
Remember, the condition of your property is a major deciding factor for potential buyers, so if you plan to sell in the future, it’s important to take care of your home, inside and out. Long story short, regular home maintenance will make it easier to get your asking price.
How often should you be doing home maintenance inspections?
Preventative home maintenance inspections should happen at least twice a year. By picking up problems early, you’ll have enough time to shop around for quotes and get it fixed at your own convenience. This is much easier than dealing with an emergency home repair.
You might not be able to handle all inspections and home maintenance tasks on your own, so it’s advisable to hire a professional contractor to handle the job.
How to stay on top of your home’s basic maintenance needs
Let’s take a look at some of the most important things that need to be done when taking care of your house.
Home maintenance tasks you should plan for spring
Get into spring cleaning mode. Focus on the exterior of your home. Now that winter is gone, you’ll need to prepare for the heat and humidity of summer.
- Check your exterior drainage. Puddles should not stand around your home for more than 24 hours. If rain water lingers, or moves toward your foundation, you’ll need to deal with this before it becomes a bigger problem.
- Clean out gutters. Leaves from the previous autumn have collected and had a few months to build up grime and dirt from the winter winds and rain.
- Inspect the exterior of your home. Is any paint on the walls flaking? Is there any weather damage from winter? Take a close look at the outside of your house and make any repairs as needed.
- Get your air conditioning ready for summer. Air-conditioning units should be serviced every six months to ensure filters are clean, they’re adequately gassed and working properly. (Home+ can help you find an air-conditioning company near you!)
- Have your gas installation inspected. If you have gas appliances, these need to be checked annually. Regulators and shut off valves need to be replaced and a safety inspection ensures that you are compliant with gas safety regulations.
- Clear plants/shrubs from around the house. This is more than a gardening tip. Left unchecked, plants can grow into cracks and holes on the exterior of your home, causing damage.
- Check your trees. Ensure they’re not interfering with your electric fence, and cut back any branches that are likely to be problematic in a summer storm.
- Inspect your roofing. Look for damage and leaks. You can repair as needed; or call in a professional.
Home maintenance tasks you should plan for summer
This is the perfect weather to be outdoors, focusing on the exterior of your home and garden. It’s also the perfect season to do the following tasks:
- Check tiling grout in bathrooms and kitchen, etc. Repair as needed. This helps your tiled surfaces last longer and look better.
- Inspect plumbing for leaks. Go around to all your taps, toilets and pipes to check for any small leaks.
- Eliminate insect problems. Whether it’s snails or ants, these are fairly easy to deal with, and there are a variety of environmentally-friendly approaches that you can take.
- Clean and repair your deck and patio. Start with a good wash and then tackle re-staining and re-varnishing if necessary. Check for loose boards and repair as needed.
- Sort out and clean your garage. Go through all the stuff that has landed up in the garage throughout the year and make sure all your tools are clean and easily accessible. Clearing out your garage is also important because it gives you somewhere to park your car to protect from unexpected summer hail storms.
Home maintenance tasks you should plan for autumn
As it starts getting cooler, you’ll find it easier to finish off the summer home maintenance tasks you might have postponed. You’ll also need to get your home ready for winter.
- Check your window and door seals. This will help keep warm air inside the house, and make your heating more efficient.
- Get your heaters ready. Gas heaters should be serviced, and fireplaces inspected if you have them. Ensure chimneys are cleaned out at least once a year.
- Winterise your sprinkler systems. Flush and store your garden hoses.
- Get your pool ready for winter. Clean the pool and the pump, and cover the pool to prevent leaves and debris falling in.
- Check your driveway and paving for cracks. These can be re-sealed before winter to prevent water from frosting up in the cracks and causing more damage.
- Check for damp and mould. These are problems that should never be postponed, as they can only get worse if left unchecked.
Home maintenance tasks you should plan for winter
Winter is the best time to go around the inside of your home. In regions where there is no winter rainfall, it’s also a good time to paint the roof or handle any exterior tasks that would be interrupted by rain in summer. If you have any interior DIY projects lined up, whether painting, building shelves, or revamping furniture, winter is a great time to tackle those as well.
- Check your electrical set-up. Maintain an even distribution of electricity load by not overusing certain outlets or cords. Check that plug points work and that none of the switches on your distribution board have seized.
- Check handles, hinges and knobs. Tighten door handles, oil hinges, and check that all drawers are in working order. Go through the house and look for anything that could have a loose screw.
- Check all locks, latches and deadbolts. If anything doesn’t work smoothly, replace.
- Perform bathroom maintenance. Remove shower heads and clean. This prolongs the life of your shower head and assists with water pressure as well. Check the waterproofing layer (caulking) around showers and bathtubs and repair as needed.
- Protect your garden from frost. Laying out frost covering prevents delicate plants from becoming frost-bitten and helps your garden recover quicker in spring. Adding a layer of mulch in your flower beds will also help protect your garden from cold snaps.
Don’t overlook these important monthly home maintenance tasks
- Cleaning your appliances. Your dishwasher, washing machine, vacuum cleaner and tumble dryer all need to be cleaned regularly. Follow the manufacturer’s instructions, or find a suitable YouTube tutorial on what needs to be done.
- Treating wood surfaces appropriately. Parquet floors and wooden patios need to be looked after to prevent them from drying out and cracking. Treating these surfaces with an appropriate oil can increase the lifespan of these surfaces.
- Inspecting batteries and lightbulbs. Check the batteries in your gate remotes, garage doors, gate motors and alarm security systems. This is particularly important given the strain that loadshedding places on these automated components. Replace outdoor light bulbs as soon as you notice a problem.
- Testing your panic buttons. Are they all working? Let your alarm company know you’ll be performing routine tests. Don’t have a panic button? We’ve made peace of mind security more accessible and affordable. Check out Home+ Security.
How to stay on top of home maintenance tasks
- Create a list for yourself of all the tasks that need to be handled.
- Categorise tasks into daily, weekly, and monthly priorities.
- Spread these out so that you don’t get overwhelmed trying to do everything at once.
- Schedule home maintenance tasks like an appointment and commit to doing them.
- Create a list of appliances and detail their maintenance/cleaning requirements.
- Share the responsibility with others in the household, everyone must contribute.
Hire a professional if you’re unsure or you don’t have time to do it yourself.