Maintaining Your Home to Retain Value

    You’ve got the kitchen of your dreams and a master bedroom suite that would look right at home in a 5-star hotel. And your gorgeous new exterior paint job is the envy of the neighborhood. Your place looks so great that real estate agents are dropping off their cards telling you how much they could sell your place for, if you felt like putting it on the market.

    Sell it now! Good grief no! Not after all the remodeling work. But… who knows? In five or six years when the kids are off to college and you and your mate get tired of mowing that big lawn and knocking around in a house built for five but inhabited by two, a downtown condo may look pretty inviting. Face it. At some point in the future, whether it’s next year or in 20 years, you’re going to want to sell your house. And with all the improvements you’ve made over the years, you should get a nice return on the sale, assuming you don’t let your house fall apart.

    Remodeling can be frustrating but it’s also fun — filled with anticipation and visible rewards at the end of the project. Maintenance is dull and routine, but you have to do it if you want to retain the value you’ve added to your home. For example: Hardwood floors need to be refinished every 5-10 years depending on wear and tear. If they get too worn down you can do permanent damage to the wood. Exteriors need to be repainted every 5-10 years too, depending on such factors as the weather where you live, or you can damage the exterior wood. Your roof and gutters need annual inspections. A clogged or damaged gutter and drain spout can flood your basement and cause serious damage.

    And the list goes on. Like taxes and dental checkups, regular home maintenance isn’t fun. But you must do it if you want to take care of what is likely your biggest single asset — your home.

    Annual checklist home maintenance checklist:

    • Kitchen: Check for leaks under and around the sink. Plumbing leaks can damage cabinetry and floors. Check and repair grout and caulking on tile countertops and around the sink. Also check wear and tear on wood floors, which periodically need to be refinished.
    • Bathrooms: Check for plumbing leaks and check grout on tiles. If the grout gets worn away water will start getting into the walls behind the bathroom, causing damage.
    • Basement: Check for cracks in the foundation and leaks. Buildings settle over time and even after decades of having a dry basement leaks may suddenly occur.
    • Attic: Check for signs of water leakage from the roof. Also look for any sign of termites or rodents. Squirrels or rats that nest in your attic can chew electrical wiring, which can lead to fires.
    • Smoke alarms: Batteries need to be changed annually.
    • Heating system: If yours has a filter, change it annually.
    • Air conditioning system: Change all filters monthly or as recommended by the filter manufacturer.
    • Roof: Note if any shingles have fallen off or if gutters or downspouts appear clogged or damaged. You can always hire a reliable roofing company to get on the roof and take a look. Reputable roofing companies won’t try to sell you a new one unless you really need it. You can simply pay them for an inspection.
    • House exterior: If your house is wood, check that the paint hasn’t worn away so much that the primer paint is showing. If the primer also wears down, you can do damage to the wood. Brick houses should be inspected for damaged bricks or masonry. Check stucco houses and repair any cracks large enough to slide a nickel into.
    • Asphalt and concrete driveways: Repair any cracks or buckling.