Maintaining your home’s value is critical, but home maintenance is sort of boring and can be expensive. However, your home should be maintained as if you’re always ready to put it on the market, and not just for potential buyers, but for your own enjoyment and peace of mind. Just like your car, parts of your house wear out after a period of time and have to be repaired or replaced. Keeping your house in good repair will pay dividends in the long run and will eliminate the need to do all of the work at once if you should have to put your house on the market.
The Land Down Under
Probably the most neglected area of your house, the crawl space needs to be inspected, either by you or a contractor, regularly to make sure that everything is as it should be. You should inspect your crawl space regularly for wood rot, mold, insects and other pests, fallen insulation, foundation cracks, and moisture. All too often, sellers find out that something is wrong under their house when they undergo a buyer’s home inspection. By then, the problem may have gotten to the point where it will be expensive to repair, when it could have been taken care of less expensively with a little due diligence. For example, a crawl space dehumidifier or vent fan is an inexpensive fix for moisture in your crawl space. The optimal moisture level is 55% or less, so if your moisture level exceeds this, mold and mildew can begin to grow and cause wood rot. High moisture content also attracts termites and other insects that thrive on the water in the wood. So, periodic inspections of your crawl space may save you thousands of dollars in repairs in the long run.
Windows on the World
Replacement windows can be costly, but windows and window frames wear out over time. If your house was built more than 30 years ago, your windows need to be inspected for rot, broken seals and damaged screens. Vinyl windows with low-e glass (glass that has been coated to reflect heat) have become standard for new home construction, but homes built before 1990 likely have wood windows that will deteriorate and need to be repaired and/or painted, especially on the exterior. The only way to determine what kind of TLC your windows need is to have a reputable window company inspect them and provide an estimate for repairs or replacement. Depending on what type of windows and glass you choose, and how many windows you need to repair/replace, the bill can run into the thousands of dollars. However, damaged and rotting windows will definitely have an adverse effect your home’s value and marketability.
Up on the Roof
Your roof is another area that wears out over time. Most roofs are good for about 30 years, depending on the quality and type of roof. For instance, a tin roof will last much longer than a composite shingle roof, but it needs to be painted periodicallya to maintain the integrity of the roof. A tile roof lasts a long time, but is expensive and requires additional framing because of its weight, and the underlayment will have to be replaced every 20-30 years. A cedar shake roof, if installed properly, should last up to 40 years, but the shakes should be cleaned and coated every few years and it’s expensive to replace. A composite roof lasts about 30 years and is probably the least expensive to replace, but a roof that is in disrepair will definitely have buyers seeing dollar signs, and not in a good way. Replacing your roofing is one of the least sexy and most expensive home maintenance items, but it is critical to your home’s overall well being.
Color Your World
Paint is one of the least expensive ways to maintain your home. Over time, walls show wear and tear like anything else in your house. It’s a good idea to go around your home occasionally and clean finger marks and scuffs off your walls. However, eventually painting the interior and/or exterior of your home will be necessary. Painting is one chore that you can do yourself, unless you are seriously averse to painting. A good painting contractor is worth their weight in gold. Choosing paint colors is a highly personal task, but if you’re planning to sell your house any time soon, pick neutral or soft colors. If you go with wild or vibrant colors, remember that you will probably have to paint over them if you plan to sell. Even though many buyers personalize homes with their own paint choices, crazy colors or textures can repulse buyers.
Flooring is another surface in your home that needs to be repaired or replaced after several years. Carpeting is especially prone to serious wear. It should be cleaned on a regular basis, but eventually, it will have to be replaced. Due to allergy and asthma problems, carpet has fallen out of favor with many people in recent years, and they prefer hard surfaces – hardwood, tile, marble or laminate – to reduce the allergens that get trapped in carpeting. However, even hard surface floors need to be maintained properly. Tile is extremely durable, but it can crack and the grout has to be sealed and cleaned every few years. Hardwoods are easy to clean and maintain, but they will need to be refinished after several years, especially in a home with pets that have claws that can scratch or gouge them. Marble is also durable, easy to maintain, and beautiful, but it can be slippery and will get scratched and marked with time. Laminate is a synthetic that can look like various surfaces, but is less expensive and much more durable than many hard surface floors. However, some buyers see laminate as less than desirable because it is synthetic.
The Heart of the Home
The kitchen is often called the “heart of the home,” and as such, it gets a lot of use. As a result, countertops gets stained and marred, cabinets get dirty and worn, floors taking a beating with spills and heavy use, and appliances break down. Cabinets are especially prone to show wear and tear, but the good news is that they can be resurfaced more inexpensively than they can be replaced. However, if you’re changing the style of your kitchen or upgrading, you will need to replace cabinets, which can be expensive. Countertops, depending on the type you choose, can be replaced economically, but some surfaces – granite, marble, concrete – are fairly expensive and can run up to $100 per square foot. Solid surface countertops, such as Corian, are less expensive, but also may not be considered high end by buyers. Less expensive still are laminate and wood countertops, which can still be attractive, but may not be desirable if you’re trying to sell. Flooring can run from hardwood to tile to vinyl, but all of it gets a lot of hard use in the kitchen, and will eventually have to be replaced. So, too, appliances are meant to last about 10 to15 years, so if your appliances are older than 15 years, you may want to replace them if you plan to sell. The same rules apply to bathroom cabinets, counters and flooring because they get as much use as the kitchen. There is an old adage that kitchens and bathrooms sell houses, and there is still some truth to that.
Keep on the Grass
Rather than keep off the grass, you need to stay on top of lawn and garden maintenance just as diligently as you do with house maintenance. The exterior of your home creates a first impression, at which you get only one chance, that carries into the interior. A beautifully kept lawn, well trimmed shrubbery and lovely flower beds all work to create an impression of someone who cares lovingly for their home. When you do decide to sell, the exterior of your home is what buyers will use to judge the rest of what they see, so good curb appeal will create the expectation of a positive experience when they tour the inside of your home. If you enjoy working outside, it will be evident from the condition of the grounds around your home. If you don’t enjoy it, consider hiring a yard maintenance company. It will be well worth the dollars spent in the long run. Regular care of your lawn and gardens will enable you to avoid doing a big, expensive cleanup down the road. As with other aspects of your home, a messy yard and gardens signal red flags to buyers who will assume the rest of your house is in disrepair. However, a beautiful exterior invites the buyer into the house.
Whether you are selling or not, keeping your home in good condition makes it not only lovely, but more livable while you are there. Don’t just fix up your house for someone else; keep it in good condition for your own personal enjoyment as well. If, for some reason, you must sell suddenly, you will not have to work overtime to make your house attractive to buyers; it will already be ready for prime time.
We are here to assist you in finding ways to keep your home in good condition, to sell, we’re ready to assist with that as well. It’s our privilege to be of service to you. Contact us today!