Home maintenance isn't fun for most homeowners, but rather a necessity to keep your family safe and protect this huge financial investment. As people prefer to follow routine, building (chuckle) home maintenance into your family routine is the best way to protect your home and save money, so you can make small, incremental upgrades to support your lifestyle.
Wouldn't it be great if you got a book when you bought your house, telling you what home maintenance chores needed to be done each month, along with directions on how to do it or who to call? Unfortunately houses don't come with a home maintenance book like you get when you buy a car … so too often, homeowners ignore problems until there's significant damage like “it's raining in the upstairs hallway” and repair costs are much larger than the preventative maintenance would have been.
Running my handyman business, I've talked to hundreds of homeowners over the years and learned about a variety of home maintenance strategies. If you're not ready to commit to twice or 4 times a year, routine maintenance … my goal is to have you pick any strategy as long as it's not “waiting 'till it breaks”.
Event Driven Home Maintenance
We all live very busy lives, and tend to move from one family event to planning the next event like an annual Memorial Day picnic. Many home owners do the majority (anything except fixing what breaks and can't be ignored any longer) of their home maintenance to prepare for a lifestyle event. The problems with waiting for these events, is you're letting hidden problems get worse and the repairs will cost you more.
- Preparing your home for sale before you list your home, or after the buyer has their home inspection.
- Right after you move into your new home, generally for 6 months to a year, is when a majority of home maintenance and minor updates are made.
- When something breaks or you find a leak, i.e. stains on your ceiling or sparks coming from a light switch.
- Family events like a wedding, visitors from overseas or special company like meeting your future daughter-in-laws parents.
Schedule Driven Home Maintenance
My preferred approach to home maintenance is to set aside one weekend each quarter, to tackle home maintenance chores. It's best to pick the task you are comfortable doing and have the tools/skills to get them done efficiently. You'll save money and have more peace of mind if you find a reliable handyman to come onece or twice a year to handle the other items, so they get done but you don't have to agonize over getting on a ladder, on the roof or whatever you're not comfortable doing around your house.
- Quarterly, seasonal maintenance checklists are great because it lets you focus on exterior maintenance in the spring (cleaning up after winter storms) and fall (getting ready for winter) and interior home maintenance in winter (preparing for holiday gatherings) and summer.
Check out our seasonal checklists (Spring into Action Maintenance Checklist, Summer Home Maintenance Checklist, Fall Leaves and Home Maintenance, Home Maintenance to Stay Comfortable This Winter) to help you keep your home in good condition.
- Monthly checklists are a variation on the seasonal checklists, broken down to smaller lists, i.e. 1 day (not the entire weekend) each month versus dedicating a full weekend each quarter to home maintenance.
- Room-by-room checklists, i.e. attic when putting holiday decorations away, can be more rewarding for homeowners who like the visual feedback that one room is done and they can check it off their list until next year.
Project Driven Home Maintenance
Some homeowners know it's important to set aside 1 to 2% of their home's value each year, for maintenance and home upgrades. It's far easier to deal with a roof that's reached it's end of life when you know you've got the money in the bank. It's difficult hearing about a friend who's 75 year old boiler fails in January, and risks more damage with frozen pipes, while searching for financing to pay for a new boiler.
A friend of mine tackles one big project each year – new windows to save heating and cooling costs, followed by new living/dining room flooring and she's still planning her kitchen remodel. Knowing what her upcoming projects are helps her prioritize the smaller, routine maintenance chores. Here are other typical projects my handyman business has helped homeowners with:
- Painting 1-2 rooms each year (do-it-yourself homeowners), and replacing windows on the same schedule (my handyman technicians).
- Updating a bathroom which can be done all at once, or broken down into several smaller projects to fit the budget but create the master design first.
- Creating a new activity space, like a home office, is one of the most rewarding home projects so start dreaming, then prioritize and create that new space.