Buying your home is most probably the largest investment your ever likely to make.So doesn’t it make sense to look after it ?
A lot of people tend to ignore simple maintenance jobs around the home,but ignoring them can sometimes only make the problem get worse.It is vitally important to keep it maintained,as this will protect your investment & also leave you somewhere comfortable to live for years to come.
Quite a few of these home maintenance jobs can be carried out by DIY enthusiasts,but remember that it does not always work out cheaper to fix & repair, sometimes it can be cheaper in the long run to completely replace an old or worn out heating system,windows,doors etc. whereas some of the larger,riskier or more technical jobs may have to be carried out by qualified trades persons/builders.More about dealing with paid help later.
Firstly,we will go through a list of simple checks & tasks most people can plan & carry out for themselves.A good idea is to have a quick walk around with a notepad & pencil,making a note of all the jobs that need attending to,you can then put a rough costing together & decide which jobs you would like to tackle first.
By now for most of us, the cold & frosty weather has thankfully gone for another year leaving us free to venture outside & check up on the external areas of your home & also the gardens.OK,lets start in the garden – check your garden fence posts as these are the backbone of your fence, test each one to see if there is any decay, which usually occurs at ground level.Any posts found to have decay should be replaced with treated wood or pre made concrete posts.Replace any fence panels or boards that may have decay,again with treated timber & apply a weather protecting stain,any cutting can be done inside your workshop or shed on your workbench.
Cut back any broken or loose branches on trees or shrubs that may have been damaged in the winter weather.Mulch your garden borders to reduce those pesky weeds & retain moisture in the ground,fertilize the lawns.
Check all your guttering, drainpipes & drains for any cracks or sign of corrosion & clear out any leaves or debris that may have collected in the winter months.
At last the long summer days are here,so you have no excuse not to carryout some of the repair work you made a note of earlier in the year & now is the time to take on some of the larger jobs.
Driveways, Paths & Patios – check for any cracks or subsidence,any small repairs can be made quite easily using materials from your local DIY store.
Decks & Decking – make sure the is no decay to the decking boards & joists,especially if you have a raised deck.If you do spot any damage you may be recommended to consult a specialist to make sure it is safe to use.If no damage is found,clean it using a jet wash (or similar)to rid it of any grime then apply a coat or two of decking oil to prolong its life & appearance.
Doors & Windows – If you have wooden doors & windows,try them to make sure they all open freely as some of the windows may not have been opened in a few months.Free any hinges that may be stiff with a little lubricating oil.Any flaking paint or stain should be removed & any splits or cracks can be repaired using wood filler.Depending on which type of filler you use,this can take from a few minutes to a few hours to cure.Once cured it should be sanded down,primed then painted.Carry out a similar process with your doors,making sure the hinges locks,handles & closers are all operating freely.
Roof & Chimney – Try to make a visual check from ground level for any loose or broken tiles & shingles.I strongly recommend to use a roofing contractor to repair any roof works,due to the obvious dangers of working at heights.
Gardens – mow the lawn at regular intervals & treat it to fertilizer & lawn feed.Prune your shrubs & vines to make sure they don’t become overgrown.Make sure trees aren’t growing too close to your house as you may not only have problems with branches, but a far more serious problem could be with roots as they could damage your foundations or underground pipework.
Summer has long gone & the weather is turning cooler.At this time of year you will be repeating a few of the jobs you attended to in Spring.
Cut back any excessive growth in shrubs & trees,& now is also a good time to plant so they can establish themselves for next year.Once again carry out a visual check of your roof from ground level for any damaged tiles.
Clean out your guttering & downpipes of dead leaves that may have fallen from your trees,as they could block the flow of rainwater.Any outdoor taps or hoses should be drained & valves turned off before the severe weather sets in, any water is still in the pipes during a freezing spell of weather could expand ,which results in burst pipes.
Moving indoors – it may have been a few months since you last had your heating system running,now is a good time to turn it on for an hour or so,just to make sure everything is still working as it should.It is much better to test it now while it is not too cold outside,rather than wait until winter & discover you have a problem,which could leave you without heating for a few days.Take a walk around your radiators & check them all to see if they need bleeding,as this could affect their performance.
Winter has set in & most of the home maintenance tasks are all based indoors now.Your main objectives should be to keep your home as warm as possible.
Most of the heat in your house is lost through the loft & windows.Inspect you doors & windows for draughts.Secondary glazing,rubber seals or draught excluders can be used to help reduce this problem.Specialist companies can be hired to fit loft insulation,but this is a maintenance job that can be completed by a competent DIY’er.It is fairly inexpensive to buy & relatively easy to fit,although the fibres from the insulation can be quite irritating so it is recommended to wear a face mask,goggles & appropriate clothing.
Floorboards are another area where improvements can be made.After time,floorboards will acclimatize which results in them shrinking & leaving gaps between the boards.A flexible filler must be used in this case instead of a standard wood filler.The reason being – the floor is constantly moving(albeit very slightly)if a standard filler were to be used it would eventually crack,meaning the job would have to be re-done.
Test all your smoke alarms,carbon monoxide alarms & security alarms to make sure everything is in order,replace any used batteries.You have put a lot of time,effort & money into your home so it is worth buying a few batteries to protect it !
Obviously I haven’t covered every possible home maintenance job,but I think I have covered quite a few,which hopefully will keep you safe & happy in your home.Most of the jobs I mention can be carried out by the home owner,but in some circumstances hired help may be required.
Finding A Builder
Finding & trusting a builder/trades person can be quite daunting at times,so here are a few thing I suggest to help you make the right decision.
Never agree to have any work done by a builder who comes cold calling.By all means take their contact details so that you can contact them at a later date if required.Ask friends or work colleagues if they can recommend anyone that has carried out some recent work.Talk to your neighbours,ask if they were satisfied & ask if you can have a look at the finished work for yourself.
Try to obtain at least 3 quotes,this way you can get a better idea of of what the final cost may be for all your home maintenance work.Make sure the quote your given includes materials & labour.If it is a large job being carried out,ask for start & finish dates & agree to pay in instalments.NEVER pay the full amount in advance & only pay the final instalment once you are completely satisfied.