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Home Inspector Advice on How to Maintain a Home

As a 30+ year home inspector in Phoenix and overseeing more than 90,000 inspections, I have some opinions about the care of a home. Generally, it can be said that:

  1. Most people today are not properly maintaining their home.
  2. Most people don’t understand the financial impact of a failure to maintain their home.

Though many home care related television shows exist, the majority of homeowners still do not adequately perform maintenance and repairs to what is likely their most valuable asset. Once a structure is constructed, or a major remodel is completed, the clock starts ticking as the decline in condition and its financial impact takes effect. That said, the only options are to allow the decay to carry-on, or to combat the decline with targeted maintenance and repairs.

While I know it can be hard to keep up with the maintenance and repair of a home; it really is something you can learn. First, just know that it takes 1% to 3% of the value of your home spent yearly for proper upkeep. I know that sounds like a lot of money, but this is the average and if you don’t proceed with this investment in your home, it will be painful along the way and it will bite you hard when you go to sell. “Cream-Puff” homes that are meticulously maintained sell way faster and for far more money than homes that are not well kept. Trust me, when you are ready to sell your home it will be the day of reckoning and you will either be filled with joy or regret for the past treatment of your home. We know there is a financial impact for not maintaining a home, the only variable associated with a failure to do so is when it will bite you.

Let’s cover a few focus areas as you commit to keeping your expensive investment in great shape. Start by focusing on some Top Home Inspector Advised Maintenance Areas:

  • Roof – Keeping the roof maintained is critically important. It is far less expensive to do on-going maintenance than it is to install then ignore. Obviously, the roof is out-of-sight, but it should never be out-of-mind. Beyond the cost of early replacement of the roof itself, if allowed to decay, leaks can cause extensive damage to the structure and a hazard for the occupants. Get the roof inspected every two years and after every major storm.
  • Heating & Cooling – The cost of heating & cooling units have skyrocketed and you will likely go into shock when you hear the costs of replacement. Ignoring these critical home components is guaranteed to inflict harm to your checking account balance. If you’re smart (and I know you are) you will have routine maintenance performed by a competent technician every year or at most every two years.
  • Plumbing & Electrical – Defects in these two systems are not acceptable. Plumbing defects often lead to leaks, mold, damage; phenomenon’s that involve what is known as a “bring money” situation. All electrical defects are safety concerns and require immediate correction. Hire a professional to perform any work on these systems and make sure you have had an initial inspection to determine the present condition.
  • General Repairs – Yearly or bi-annual assessment and general repairs by a handyman will allow you correct issues when they are minor and avoid having them becoming major – where the costs are greater.

Of course, this is just a partial list of the areas to focus on. If you have a pool or spa, there is another whole set of components to keep properly maintained yearly to avoid a high cost surprise.

When a home is sold there is virtually always a home inspection, and if a skilled home inspector is used, they will give a detailed account of the home condition system-by-system and component-by-component. A skilled home inspector is not easily tricked by the efforts of someone trying to perform cheap and dirty repairs, or worse yet, no repairs before putting the home on the market. The home sale process is usually a day of reckoning for how well the maintenance went on the property and it can be a costly day for the home seller, but it doesn’t have to be.

I’m sure you have heard the saying, “You can pay now, or you can pay later”. This thought is perfectly captured in the experience of homeownership. For some reason (probably because people are busy) home inspectors are now seeing a chronic problem with the existence of poorly maintained homes. As a fellow homeowner, I live out what is written herein and recently sold my home the same day it hit the market (should have priced it even higher!!!). If you follow the advice to maintain your home, it will lead to other problems. You will have to suffer through having to move sooner than you expected and figure out how to price your home properly to cash in on your attention to homeowner maintenance. Oh, and then you will have to figure out what to do with the extra money from the sale!

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