When a home needs a major repair, such as a new roof, most owners will immediately shudder at the sticker-shock of the initial costs. Those who choose to leave their roof as-is because they can't (or choose not to) pay for the roof would be guilty of deferred maintenance. Whether it's because a homeowner is planning to sell the home, even in a buyers market, or because their finances just aren't available, deferred maintenance is never recommended. The good news is that owners may have more power than they think, even if their bank accounts are severely depleted.
The Real Cost of Deferred Maintenance
It costs about four times more to fix a problem that's been left alone than it does to fix a problem in its earliest stages. For example, a homeowner may well be able to patch up a small hole in a roof shingle with epoxy long before they need to call to get estimates on a brand-new roof. A small hole in a shingle is usually a sign of the general aging of a roof, but the roof as a whole may still have a few more years left.
Deferred maintenance is more than just a nuisance for homeowners, it can be dangerous for everyone. Clogged gutters can form dangerous icicles that can fall at any time. (If one happens to a fall on a delivery person, the homeowner could have a major lawsuit on their hands.) Uneven walkways can pose problems for nighttime visitors. Broken light bulbs in a stairwell can lead to a terrible accident. Few people think of their home as a hazard, but that's exactly what it will become if homeowners aren't actively keeping up with their responsibilities.
Watching the Home
When people get home from a long day, they're likely to settle immediately into their routine, and these rituals rarely include any type of systematic inspection of the home. Unless the refrigerator has turned off or the TV won't work, it's unlikely for residents to notice anything else. Getting into the habit of monthly inspection can change all this though. If a pipe under the sink is starting to get loose or there's an unexplained puddle in the farthest corner of the basement, homeowners will at least be aware of these problems.
The Benefit of Professional Inspectors
Homeowner inspections are excellent measures to take to manage maintenance, but it may also make financial sense to hire outside help too. This is especially recommended if the home is older or more vulnerable to structural damage. A professional home inspector can tell homeowners how to prioritize their problems, which can help them manage the time and money spent on repairs. If the septic system is in relatively good shape, or at least in good enough shape to hold out for five more years, homeowners can focus their energies on the cracked foundation instead.
As it may be apparent by now, the key is for homeowners to take action somehow:
- Duct tape a window screen together or PVC pipe that's starting to dislodge from its proper position.
- Use natural-fiber rope to fill in gaps on a hardwood floor.
- Cut off the water line or power to the problem area of the home.
- Use epoxy on a window screen or caulking on the doors.
By definition, these short-term fixes can't be long-term solutions. However, they can buy an owner some time.
Owners who know they can't afford major repairs now should, at the very least, be working with their budget. By listing all of their expenses against their income, they can start to see where to cut out certain luxuries in order to keep their property in the best possible condition.
Help From All Sides
Well-maintained homes translate to safer communities, and officials at the federal and community level recognize just how important this is for the good of society. Home improvement grants in Canada may be available via the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation. Homeowners can also check with their community to learn more about local programs to help homeowners in need. If these efforts fail, homeowners can consider using credit to fix their home, but this is not always recommended due to the high-interest rates.
Buying and owning a Beacon Hill home has a huge set of benefits for anyone who's ever wanted the privilege of owning their own land, but it also comes with a high degree of responsibility. Making the effort to keep up with maintenance is the key to keeping it safe for all.