Keeping the place up

You know the story – you buy a new house and before you move in you have a long list of projects (both big and small) that you will tackle right after the closing. Some projects are cosmetic (is sponge paint still in vogue?) and others may be items your home inspector flagged (rotting decking on the front porch is something we need to address at our new place). You are committed to getting right to the list after you unpack and settle in. But before you know it life gets in the way, maybe you lose the list, and years go by. No biggie right? Well unfortunately that’s not always the case. Sometimes deferring maintenance and home improvements can turn into a really big deal. Maybe you find yourself unexpectedly having to sell your home and it is not even close to show ready or perhaps several “emergency” repairs are required simultaneously and your budget can’t accommodate the expense.

Fashion trends dictate the need for cosmetic changes – pink carpeting and floral wall paper may go out of style more quickly than the materials need to be replaced (carpeting has a life span of 8-10 years while some wall paper can last forever). But all of the components of our homes have expected life spans and knowing those can be helpful for planning. The National Association of Home Builders has a detailed report outlining life spans of pretty much every item in your home. I am a planner so I like knowing that you can expect your air conditioning unit to last 10-15 years, but your microwave to last only 9. The report says dishwashers last 9 years, though personally we seem to go through one every 3-4 years.

Your home is your biggest investment, yet too many of us treat it like we are renters. We wait for something to break, and are disappointed to learn that there is no landlord to complain to. Preventative maintenance checklists abound online, and here is just one example I found for tasks to accomplish quarterly, bi-annually, and annually. You should also create a capital improvement plan for your home. Make a list of all the projects you anticipate addressing in the next several years (maybe go out as far as 10 years if you expect to stay that long). This list shouldn’t just be the fun stuff; it should also incorporate the boring/necessary projects (roof, exterior paint, appliances and mechanicals). Once the list is comprehensive, order it in terms of anticipated time frame, and create a budget and savings plan for these projects. And then do your best to stick to the plan. We know it’s not easy, but if you don’t actively work to preserve the value of your home, you could be disheartened to learn what it is worth, when it comes time to sell.

Patrick and I are always happy to meet to assist you in prioritizing the projects on your capital improvement plan, so give us a call.