One thing people do not want to see is a home that isn’t well maintained. Ongoing upkeep is more crucial than ever, with buyers reluctant to sign up for an untended property that will prove costly to patch up. Properties that have fallen into disrepair might be sellable in boom years, but in cash-strapped times far fewer buyers want to take on a huge project. They prefer something that’s been well cared for and isn’t going to throw up unpleasant financial surprises. The problem is what starts out as a £50 job can escalate into a £5,000 repair if left unattended. Keeping on top of a property and doing little jobs as they become necessary is the best advice I can offer. It’s like looking after your health. Prevention is always better than cure. Regular maintenance of your home is less intrusive and expensive than letting it decay and having to fix it from the bottom up again.
As a trained building surveyor, I like to get my hands dirty checking and repairing my home. In the autumn – a good time to carry out work before winter rains and winds arrive – I clean out gutters, make sure drain holes are clear and airbricks clean. Chimneys get a once-over as well to ensure air is circulating around.
Also, make sure your roof is water-tight, re-fi x slipped or missing tiles and remove vegetation growing in masonry. Leaving these items un-repaired will result in frost damage and allow damp to penetrate. It is far cheaper maintaining your house regularly than leaving it for years and having to pay for more serious work.
Good maintenance is important even if you aren’t planning to sell. Looking after the place where you live has never been more vital.
PHIL’S TOP TIPS
- Clear plants, leaves and silt from gutters, hopper-heads, flat roofsand drainage channels.
- Check for blocked down-pipes: during heavy rain look to see watercoming from leaky joints and in dry weather look for stainedbrickwork.
- Keep gullies and drains at ground level clean and clear of debris, such as leaves, twigs, and even balls and toys.
- Remove potentially damaging vegetation from behind down-pipes by cutting back or removing plants altogether.
- Use a hand mirror to look behind rainwater pipes where splits andcracks in old cast iron and aluminium often occur and are not easily noticed.
- Fit bird or leaf guards to the tops of soil pipes and rainwater outlets to prevent blockage.
- Have gutters re-fi xed if they are sloping the wrong way or discharging water on to walls.
- If sections of guttering or pipe work are beyond repair, make sure replacements are made of the same material as the originals. On older listed houses, this is sometimes lead, but more typically, cast iron.
- Regularly paint cast iron to prevent rust and to keep your property looking smart.
- Don’t undertake routine maintenance work at high levels unless you are accompanied and have suitable equipment – if in doubt, hire a professional.