Would you rather repair a small crack, or rebuild an entire wall? How about cleaning a filter versus replacing your entire air conditioning unit? Both examples illustrate the importance of home maintenance: regularly completing small tasks can help protect big parts of your home. In this piece, we’re delivering the essentials in home maintenance. You’ll learn why you need to do it, home maintenance by season (both indoors and out), and perhaps most importantly, how to budget for home repairs. Whether you just bought your first house, or recently made a move to a home with features (or weather conditions) with which you are unfamiliar, this guide will inform you on keeping your home safe, sound, and comfortable.
Home maintenance is about more than just how your home looks — it’s also about how it works. Making continual checks and small repairs when needed will stop small problems from turning into big ones, helping you save money and prevent unnecessary wear and tear. For many of us, our home is our biggest investment, and regular maintenance can protect that investment and help it to increase in value.
Even if you understand and agree with maintenance in principle, it can be hard to know exactly how or when to put a plan into practice. Read on to see a detailed (yet easy to follow) home maintenance guide broken down by month, quarter, year, and season.
Performing consistent monthly home maintenance can help preserve the structure and systems in your home. Although these tasks need to be done frequently, most of them are quick, easy, and relatively inexpensive.
Now that you have your monthly tasks complete, it’s time to consider the maintenance tasks that you will need to do every few months.
Even though they only need to be done a couple of times per year, these tasks will help to preserve some of the most valuable parts of your home.
In addition to the regular testing and upkeep schedule discussed above, it’s important to remember that each season comes with its own set of opportunities (and potential challenges) in terms of maintenance.
Indoors: Switch your ceiling fan direction to clockwise to push warm air down into the room. Clean your dryer vent to prevent fires and have your HVAC system and chimney cleaned and serviced, if needed.
Outdoors: Clean up any leaves that fall in your yard, making sure that no drains are blocked and that your gutters are clear. Protect your outside plumbing from freezing weather by turning off any exterior faucets and winterizing your pool and sprinkler system.
Indoors: Pay extra attention to your furnace filters and keep the temperature inside your home to at least 55 degrees, even if you will be gone. To prevent sink pipes from freezing on very cold days, you can open the cabinet doors below the sink or additionally run a trickle of hot water.
Outdoors: If you live in an area with a lot of snow and freezing weather, make sure that you have the supplies you need for snow removal, including a roof rake to prevent ice dams.
Indoors: Switch your ceiling fan direction to counterclockwise to pull cool air up into the room. Look for any leaks during thaws, and plan for the necessary repairs. Make any landscaping updates that you have been planning.
Outdoors: Spring is a great time to power wash the exterior of your home and perform any paint or stain touch ups that are revealed. Clean up any winter debris in your yard. Add fertilizer and a fresh layer of mulch to your garden beds.
Indoors: While checking your air conditioner or HVAC filter regularly is important, it will work more efficiently to cool your home if you change it if needed, before hot temperatures hit. Repair any screens or windows that are letting in pests.
Outdoors: Mow your lawn regularly, and water your yard when needed. Keep your pool balanced and clean, and tackle any exterior repairs or projects that will be easier in warm weather.
Now that you have a better grasp of many of the maintenance tasks that go into owning a home, you might be wondering just how much all of this will cost. Making sure that you include maintenance in your budget is important — it’s a part of the “true cost” of owning a home, as it is something that no responsible homeowner can afford to ignore. While the amount is different for every individual (and every individual home), there are a couple of ways that you can estimate the amount that you will need to budget for home repairs.
The 1% Rule: The 1% rule dictates that you should set aside at least one percent of your home’s value every year for home maintenance. For example, with a $450,000 house, this comes out to $4,500 per year for maintenance.
The Square Foot Rule: Another home maintenance budgeting trick says to set aside $1 for every square foot of your house, then use that money for yearly upgrades and repairs. For example, if you own a 1,500 square feet home, you’ll want to save $1,500 each year for maintenance. You may not use all $1,500 each year, but over the long term of homeownership, your costs will average out to $1,500 per year. In addition, keep in mind that this rule doesn’t take into account the costs for labor and materials, so if you plan to hire someone to do repairs, that estimate may fluctuate.
Although the 1% rule and the square foot rule are good guidelines, there are additional budgeting factors that may impact the amount you will need to save for home maintenance.
House Age: Most older homes require more maintenance, and the age of your appliances and other major systems needs to be considered as well.
Location: Whether you are in the humid south, the hot, dusty desert, or the freezing, snowy north, your location will impact what upkeep you will need to perform on your home.
Overall Condition: Did you buy a vintage fixer-upper, or a totally updated turn-key? The overall condition of your home will impact your budget, as one big issue, like a leaky roof, can lead to multiple smaller maintenance needs.
Most homeowners find satisfaction and even joy in taking care of their home. It’s a way of preserving and growing their investment, while also creating a comfortable and enjoyable place to live. If you are ready to commit to taking care of a home that will in turn take care of you and your loved ones for many years to come, reach out to a PennyMac Loan Officer or get pre-approved online today.