Do You Have a Plan for Home Maintenance?
Owning a home is a major responsibility. Not only do you
have the obligation of paying the mortgage each month, but
you also have to maintain your home so that it remains a good
investment. Home maintenance is a crucial part of homeownership
and can require a great deal of time, money, and effort.
Inspect your home inside and outside regularly.
Use a checklist to help you familiarize yourself with the
condition of your house and state of repair. Making minor,
routine repairs helps to prolong the life of the home and
may prevent the need for major repairs. An inspection also
helps you plan and save for major improvements. Use the Maintenance
Check List on the back page to guide you in what and when
inspections need to be done.
You can save a lot of money by doing some repair or remodeling
yourself. Before tackling a job
, however, make sure that you have the skills, knowledge, and
time needed to do the job. Many building supply stores have
instruction manuals or classes for the "do-it-yourselfer."
If you do a poor job or arent satisfied with how the project
looks, you may end up spending more time and money than if you
had a professional do the work.
Various parts of the house will wear out, so you need
to have an emergency fund in case your roof leaks or
the water heater needs to be replaced.
Budget one to two percent of the purchase price of
the home for annual maintenance and repairs. If your
home or the appliances are older, you may need to save
an even bigger amount.
Plan ahead for major purchases. Estimate when you might
have to purchase something new. According to industry
officials, the average life span for the following appliances
is estimated at:
- Roof 20-25 years
- Heating system 25 years
- Refrigerator 20 years
- Freezer 20 years
- Clothes dryer 18 years
- Range/oven 18 years
- Room air conditioner 15 years
- Clothes washer 13 years
- Water heater 13 years
- Central air conditioner 12 years
- Dishwasher 12 years
Even if youre "handy," there may be some
jobs that youre not able to do or dont have the
right tools for. You may need to hire someone to do extensive
plumbing, electrical, or structural repairs. Whether doing
the job yourself or hiring someone, check to see if there
are codes or regulations that need to be followed or permits
that must be obtained before you start the job.
For safety reasons, know where the turn-off valves are for
water, gas, and the fuse/breaker box for electricity before
starting a job. If digging outdoors, call JULIE at 1-800-892-0123
or your local utility company to locate any underground utilities.
You may need to give them 48 hours notice, so plan ahead.
Hiring a Contractor
If you need to hire someone, make a list of contractors by
checking with friends, neighbors, coworkers, building supply
stores or the phone book. Request references and check them
out. You may also want to contact the Consumer Fraud Bureau
of the Attorney Generals office, the Better Business
Bureau, or your local chamber of commerce to see if complaints
have been filed against the contractor.
Get a written estimate from two or three contractors to make
sure that the amount quoted is reasonable. Determine if the
contractor has adequate
insurance, as well as check your homeowners policy
to see if workers are covered while on your property. Before
starting the job have the contractor or sub-contractor sign
a "waiver of lien." This will protect you if they
dont pay their bills.
Keep Good Records
Start a notebook and record the repairs you make or equipment
you purchase. These will be valuable if you resell your home,
need to document when work was done or what it cost, and help
plan for future purchases.
||A & B Electric
Keep receipts, guarantees, and warranties in a file. These
will also provide information in case of a problem.
Conserve energy and keep costs down by using energy conservation
practices: weatherstrip and caulk doors and windows, insulate
the attic, install storm windows, buy energy efficient appliances.
Fall is a good time to conduct an inspection to get the home
ready for winter. Some of the areas that need to be inspected
- Check weatherstripping around doors and windows for damage
and tightness. In the fall, hardware, building supply, and
discount stores often have sales on a variety of products.
- Check caulking at doors, windows, and other openings.
If replacement is needed, be advised that many caulking
products need to be applied when the outdoor air temperature
is above 45-50 degrees. Check the label on the package for
- Check vents, louvers, chimney caps and housings, and gutters
and downspouts for bird nests and other debris.
- Have the heating system checked by a qualified service
person. Clean around the furnace. Replace the filters monthly
during the heating season or as recommended by the manufacturer.
- Remove window air conditioners. Weatherstrip window openings
- Clean and repair window wells, storm drains. and remove
any leaves or other debris. Even a few leaves can clog outlets.
- Drain outdoor hoses and water lines to prevent freezing.
- Clean humidifiers and replace the filters as recommended.
- Add insulation to walls, attic, and other areas. Check
with building supply stores for the recommended R-value.
Home maintenance can be expensive and time consuming. But,
it can add to the value of your investment if you decide to
sell your home in the future. The Maintenance
Check List* can help you identify and schedule
Written by Evelyn Prasse, Consumer and Family Economics Extension
Educator, University of Illinois Extension, August 2000.
*The activity, Maintenance Check List , is reprinted
by permission of the University of Illinois School of Architecture/Building
Research Council from its copyrighted publication, Maintaining
the Home. Other publications in this series on home building
are available at a nominal fee. For more information and a
list of publications visit http://brc.arch.uiuc.edu/,
call 1-800-336-0616, or write to the Building Research
Council, One East St. Marys Road, Champaign, IL 61820.