But whilst most people fixate on the actual cost of buying their home, along with legal costs, surveying, stamp duty and the actual cost of moving, many get distracted from thinking about the on-going costs of actually maintaining a house.
In 2011, the annual cost of maintenance and repairs in homes across Britain was estimated to be £698. This is excluding any outlay on home and garden equipment (£191) and household appliances (£217). But the fact is that a lot of maintenance and repair costs can be avoided with a bit of TLC. Just like regular servicing will keep your car running for longer, the same applies for your home.
There’s no doubt that this is a long list and to think about all these different tasks separately can be daunting. For that reason, we’ve drawn up a seasonal home maintenance calendar to help you run a happy and healthy home and save yourself time, money and stress.
They don’t call it ‘spring cleaning’ for nothing. With the days stretching out longer, and the weather getting brighter, spring is a great time to clear out the winter clutter and let some air circulate through your house.
- Start up by giving your home a deep spring clean. During the winter months when you’re holed up inside with the heating on, you’ll probably find that dust gathers on surfaces and behind furniture. Pull everything out and give the place a really good once-over, clearing out any old junk that you come across in the meantime. It’s surprising what a difference this can make to your living environment.
- Prepare for April showers by checking the exterior drainage and gutters, and clearing them of any leftover debris from the harsh winter weather.
- Run water and flush toilets in unused parts of the house. Doing this in spare bedrooms, bathrooms or infrequently-used utility rooms will prevent any build-up of grime.
- Test your water heater’s pressure relief valve to reduce the chance of a leak or even a dangerous explosion caused by corrosion build up. This is a fairly simple procedure, but there are plenty of demonstration videos online.
- As well as giving the interior a good spring clean, you should also inspect your home’s exterior for jobs that can be undertaken through the dry(er) summer months, like painting or pointing the walls and pruning the ivy.
- Inspect the roofing for any damage that may have occurred as a result of the harsh winter weather.
- Check trees for interference with electric lines and if necessary, arrange for them to be professionally trimmed.
Although UK summers leave a lot to be desired, it’s as good a time as any to try and get outside to focus on the exterior of your home.
- Give the decking and/or patio a good clean as soon as the weather starts to dry up. It will usually require a good wash and sweep, and if it’s decking, possibly even another coat of stain. Check for loose boards or slabs and fill any gaps in the concrete on your patio to prevent weeds growing.
- Likewise, when it’s time to bring out the patio furniture, give it a good clean and re-stain any wooden pieces if necessary. Not only does this keep your furniture looking clean and fresh, but it helps protect against fading from sunlight and staining/discolouration from other materials like spilled drinks and rainwater.
- Whilst the days are longer and the weather dryer, summer is the best time to clear out the garage and/or shed as on a dry day you can leave the door open and let some air circulate around there as well. Take this as an opportunity to de-clutter and sweep out any dust or debris that has accumulated throughout the year.
- Inside, it’s advisable to hoover the coils at the back of the fridge to prevent any build-up of dust and dirt. You should also fully defrost your fridge and freezer at least twice a year. Your fridge can use up to 15% of your home’s total power so it pays to keep it running as efficiently as possible.
In Autumn, you should be preparing for the Big Freeze that comes in wintertime. If you get ready as early as possible, you reduce the risk of leaving it too late to get things done when the temperature drops.
- At least once every 12 months it’s advisable to inspect the indoor plumbing for any leaks. A running indoor toilet, for example, can increase your water consumption by 60,000 gallons - 270 cubic meters - a month, which will send your bill rocketing. It’s not easy to know when there’s a leak (until you get your bill through!), but an easy way to test is by putting food colouring into the toilet cistern. If the colouring shows up in the toilet bowl after about an hour (without flushing) then you have a leak.
- Like in the spring, preform your six-monthly check on your water heater’s pressure relief valve to reduce the chance of a leak or even a dangerous explosion caused by corrosion build up.
- Over the course of the year, sediment can form at the bottom of your water heater, consisting of solid debris that cannot dissolve in the water. If this is allowed to build-up too much, it can result in reduced energy efficiency. To get ready for winter, flush your hot water system so you don’t have to deal with any unexpected breakdowns or elevated bills.
- The UK has encountered some terrible flooding in the last few years. If your property is at increased risk, now is the time to check that your sump pump is working correctly.
- Check your drive for potholes and cracks that might be made worse by the freezing winter weather. When temperatures drop, water in these cracks and potholes freezes, pushing outwards and expanding the gap. Best to fill these in before the cold weather hits.
- Likewise, stock up on salt grit so that you don’t risk getting stuck on your own driveway.
Once the cold winter weather hits, you’re pretty much stuck on inside jobs. Although it’s tempting to default to sitting on the sofa watching telly, try to use this opportunity to get those niggling jobs out of the way like putting up shelves and defrosting the freezer.
- Again, hoover the coils at the back of the fridge to prevent any build-up of dust and dirt and fully defrost your fridge and freezer at least twice a year.
- Replace the batteries in your smoke detector. Even if the current ones haven’t run out, it’s good practice to change them once a year just to be on the safe side and get into the habit of refreshing the batteries.
- Whilst you’re stuck indoors, take the opportunity to get any DIY done around the house – put up that shelf you’ve been meaning to, tighten any handles and racks and check all the locks on windows and doors.
- Make sure you’re keeping the heating in by identifying and sealing any draughts around windows and doors.
- Check the grouting around showers, baths and sinks and remove showerheads to get rid of any sediment build up. These odd-jobs will just help to prolong the life of your bathroom.
Over to you
Buying your first home is one of the most rewarding but costly experiences most people will ever have - and the outlays don’t stop there.
If you have any other must-do tips for keeping your house in tip top shape, do let us know so we can add it to our list.
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