5 tips to stay on top of home maintenance

Where to find reliable contractors

By Inman News Feed
Add Comment Add Comment | Comments: 0 | Posted Dec. 22, 2011

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Where to find reliable contractors

Dian Hymer
Inman News®

You're not alone if your roof is leaking and you're kicking yourself for not having called a roofer during the summer months. Most people have a limited concept of preventative maintenance. This can lead to big problems that end up being more expensive than if you had routine maintenance in place.

Many buyers don't understand that home maintenance goes with homeownership. When you rent, someone else usually pays for repairs. As a homeowner, you're responsible for keeping your home in good condition.

Unless you're handy at home repairs, it can be costly to maintain a home properly. But there is a benefit at the end of the line. Buyers pay more for homes that are well-maintained and show a pride of ownership.

It can be a hassle to properly maintain your home unless you organize and prioritize the projects that need to be done. You also need to set a schedule and stick to it.

Most home maintenance can be done annually: roof maintenance (including gutters and downspouts); sealing exterior cracks; weatherproofing; a furnace and air conditioning inspection; and inspecting and cleaning the drainage system.

Mark these events on your calendar so that they can be scheduled for about a month before you'd like to have the work done. If you wait until just before the rainy season to start your annual maintenance, you could have trouble finding good contractors to help you.

Don't wait until your roof is leaking to repair or replace it. There will be collateral damage to the interior of the house. Your homeowners insurance company might pay to repair the interior damage, less the amount of your deductible, but it won't pay to replace the roof. Too many claims could be grounds for not renewing your policy.

HOUSE HUNTING TIP: Assemble a crew of contractors and tradespeople who can help you with your home maintenance. It's not always easy to find reliable people who do good work. You'll end up frustrated and having to do more oversight if you work with people who don't show up or do the job right.

Ask your real estate agent or acquaintances who own homes in the area to recommend tradespeople to you. If the seller is happy with people who have worked on the property, ask for a list of names and contact information when you close the sale.

Homeowners who haven't the time or expertise to determine what needs to be done to keep their home in good shape could ask the home inspector that inspected the house for them to do a reinspection periodically to point out areas that need attention.

One of the keys to good home maintenance is to take care of critical items as soon as they become apparent. For instance, don't postpone repairing a plumbing pipe leak. Have it repaired as soon as you notice it.

Don't assume that because your house is new that you won't have any maintenance issues. If the gutters back up on any house, even a new house, water can leak into the house or down the inside of the walls. This, left unchecked, can lead to a major repair to the framing. If repaired right away, you may just need to seal and touch up the paint.

Likewise, even though you just had the exterior painted, you still may have areas that will need touch up every year or so, especially if they receive intense sun exposure.

THE CLOSING: Don't go for the cheapest contractor or building materials just to save money. If an inferior-quality job has to be redone sooner than anticipated, your savings will dwindle.

Dian Hymer, a real estate broker with more than 30 years' experience, is a nationally syndicated real estate columnist and author of "House Hunting: The Take-Along Workbook for Home Buyers" and "Starting Out, The Complete Home Buyer's Guide."

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