It’s funny, the average price for an average medium sized car in Australia is around $33,000 and over a five-year period we will spend about 30% of the purchase price on service and maintenance (remember this is just servicing, not rego, insurance etc, just upkeep). For all that money, your car depreciates at the rapid rate of about $50 dollars a week.
Now let’s look at our homes. The average home in Australia is currently worth just under $600,000 and generally has positive capital growth. Let’s ask ourselves how much we spend on regular maintenance and servicing of our home or investment property? Most of us don’t carry out regular maintenance at all and just wait until something breaks, when whatever it costs to fix seems too much.
There are some simple facts here that many people don’t allow for or realise. Here are some average maintenance figures to consider:
- A good guide for maintenance costs for the average owner occupied house is 8% of its value over 10 years.
- For a tenanted house: 10% of value over 10 years
- For an owner occupied unit: 4% of value over 10 years, not including building strata levies
- For a tenanted or investment unit: 5% of value over 10 years, not including building strata levies.
Basically, if your home is worth $600,000, you will spend, one way or another, about $50,000 maintaining it over 10 years. Your home is a very important asset and if you don’t look after it you could end up spending a lot more than the estimates above.
Here are my DIY maintenance tips:
Silicone is a great sealant and is used in the bathroom around the top of the bath and at the junctions of wall and floor tiles. The thing is, it only has 100% integrity for about five-to-seven years. Whilst it may look okay, if the seal is compromised and moisture is able to get below the surface, the damage that could be caused may run into the thousands. Water damage is something that may not be noticed until the real damage is done. Removing silicone and replacing it is a job that can be DIYed but even if you get in a pro, the average bathroom would only cost about $250. A re-grout and new silicone make for a nice bathroom facelift.
Another bathroom nightmare is clogged or leaking drainage and one of the biggest enemies of drainage is hair; mixed with other debris, body oils and soap, it will clog drains could even cause premature leakage. A hair strainer for the bathtub drain is a great idea but I recommend removing the grate of shower and main floor waste and using a large bottle brush, twisting and dragging out hair that will have accumulated. Skip products like Drano. Though the acids it contains can help unclog a drain, they can also cause significant damage to your plumbing, including leaking. This can lead to costly repairs later on.
The main cause of dripping taps is worn out washers. The washers inside the tap handles are rubber and tend to wear out quickly. Replace them by turning off the main water supply, unscrewing the leaky handle that controls the flow of water to the spout, removing the old washer, and dropping in the new one. Rather than turning the water off every time a tap leaks which means a waste of water, I turn off the water every two years and replace all the washers at once, regardless. The cost of the washers is insignificant but leaving pipes to rattle or over-tightening taps to stop the water will eventually cause major damage to plumbing.
While roof gutters may go practically unnoticed when you look at your house, they are the main line of defence between your foundation and siding and the elements. Gutters are designed to capture water and debris runoff from your roof and divert it away from the perimeter of your home to help prevent undermining your foundations and it basically get the area around well drained which will help prevent subfloor mould etc.
Clean your gutters at least once a year by physically removing debris from the channels and rinsing them thoroughly. I have made an extension for my leaf blower from PVC piping and two 90 degree bends which will blow out the larger debris, then a flush with the garden hose. If you have installed gutter guards, these help with the large debris but I recommend removing them every couple of years to flush out built up silt that will cause early corrosion.
There’s no one answer to the question “How often should I paint my house exterior?” The answer depends on several factors, some of which include:
- The climate in your area.
- The type of cladding on your house.
- The quality of paint that was used previously.
Timber exposed to the weather will expand and contract, jeopardising the integrity of joints and junctions which could allow moisture penetration and eventually rotting. However, well sealed timber will last decades so the key is to create a good base with quality primer and sealer and two top coats, then about every five-to-seven years, give it a wash down, light sand and a single top coat to give your timber work its longest life.
Having a home maintenance plan can make a huge difference to your bank account. And, fortunately, performing proper home maintenance does not require a lot of specialised training, nor does it require a lot of time or money. Take on small jobs and build your confidence. After a while, it will start to come naturally.