There is a lot to consider when buying a home. You need to learn the house buying process, learn how to get a loan, learn how to find a good deal, and possibly fix up the home. Fixing up and updating your home is one thing, but you also need to maintain it so it stays in great shape. One of the best ways to get a great deal on a home is to find houses that have been neglected. You don’t want your house to become one that turns into a great deal for someone else because it was neglected! It is not difficult to maintain a house, but you need to make sure it is done right to prevent serious damage. I will go through many of the major items you need to make sure are done to keep your home in great shape.
How does the age of a home determine how it will be maintained?
The older the house is, the more maintenance and care it will need. Even if an older home has been updated or remodeled, it will take more work. They had different building codes, different building materials, and did not know the best practices for building homes in the past. You may hear that homes were build better in the past, and some may have been, but I have seen many old houses that should not still be standing because they were built so poorly. They have building codes and inspectors to make sure homes are built right today, but that was not always the case. You may get a great old house that is very solid or you may get a home pieced together, with no insulation. Expect to spend more money maintaining an older house, because things were probably not built as well, they are older, and the home may not have been thought out well.
What are the major exterior items that need maintained on a home?
Weather can destroy a home very quickly. Rain, ice, snow, and wind can all do a lot of damage, especially to a home that is not maintained well. Here are some of the most common problems I see on houses:
- Grading: The ground around the house should slope away from the foundation. The most common cause of foundation problems is bad grading where water sits along the concrete.
- Gutters: Most houses should have gutters and down spouts that direct water away from the home. This keeps walkways free of water and ice as well as protects the foundation.
- Roof: Roofs have a lifespan of about 30 years, unless they are damaged by wind or hail. Not only can a roof leak cause damage to the interior of a house, but it can cause mold and damage to the attic, which the homeowners will not see. The longer you wait to replace a bad roof, the more expensive it will be to fix.
- Paint: The paint on the exterior of a home last from 3 to 8 years depending on the quality of the paint and the climate. When paint starts to fade, it is a good time to paint again. When you wait too long to paint a house, the paint will start to peel. Peeling paint is much more difficult to take care of and if the house was built before 1978, much more expensive to remove. When your paint peels it also lets moisture underneath it and can cause wood rot.
- Trees: Trees can be a great addition to a yard, but they can also do a lot of damage. Trees brushing up against the house can cause siding or roof damage. Tree roots can cause foundation problems, and your sidewalk or driveway to buckle. Small trees should be planted at least 5 feet away from the house or concrete, and maybe even further away if they are large trees.
- Yard: In Colorado most houses have grass which must be watered to stay alive. Other parts of the country have grass that is naturally occurring, or desert landscaping that needs no watering. Whatever yard you have, you need to keep it free of weeds and debris. The town or HOA can fine homeowners for grass that is not taken care of, excessive growth of weeds, overgrown trees and trash in your yard.
This may seem like a lot of work, but it is really cheap to hire a landscaping company to take care of your yard. I happily pay a company to mow, fertilize, and weed my yard, because I would rather spend my time on other activities. A roofing company can inspect your roof and gutters to make sure they are in good shape. When you buy a house your home inspector should let you know if there are grading problems that to be need taken care of.
What needs to be maintained on the interior of a home?
The exterior of the house is what most people see, but you need to maintain the interior as well. I talked about the dangers in a house earlier in the book, and there are ways to keep your home safe and last longer as well:
- Furnace: The furnace should be checked and cleaned every year. This will make it last longer and could possibly find potential hazards.
- Hot water heater: The hot water heater lasts about 10 years and can cause a lot of damage. Usually a hot water heart will simply stop working, but in some case they will rust out and flood the area they are located in.
- Sewer lines: It is a good idea to have your sewer line scoped if you buy an older home. Many older lines are made of clay and decay over time. Replacing a sewer line is extremely expensive if they get clogged, the sewer can back up into your home. If you know your line is older or had blockages in the past, get it re-uttered every year to keep it clear.
- Carpet: Carpets should be steam cleaned once a year to keep them durable and looking nice. Vacuuming helps, but is not enough unless you like replacing carpet often.
- Paint: The inside needs painted just like the outside. The longer you wait to paint, the more expensive it will be.
- Cleaning: When a house is dirty it can cause all types of problems: mice, bugs, mold, sickness, smells, and cause all the systems in your home to degrade sooner. Make sure you have the home deep cleaned at least once a year.
- Clean out the dryer vent and chimney: If you have a wood burning fireplace, the chimney needs to be cleaned every year or two if you use it. You also need to clean out your dryer vent every year! A clogged dryer vent can cause a fire very easily.
It may seem overwhelming to take care of all of these things, but you don’t need to paint your house very often, and keeping a house clean will ensure it stays in better shape. You can have a HVAC company check out your hot water heater and furnace, a carpet cleaning company clean your carpets, and cleaners deep clean your home.
Is it a lot of work to maintain a house?
It can be a lot of work maintaining a home and making sure it is in great shape. It can be expensive to maintain a home, especially if it is older. If you are renting a home, you may not have all of these expenses, but you will still have to keep it clean. The cost of maintaining a home is another reason why it pays to get a great deal and do your homework before you buy. It is much more expensive not to maintain your home than to maintain it, because the cost to repair damage will be much more.