Welcome to this month’s installment of Dear urbaneer, where we delve deep into our decades of experience navigating the trenches of Toronto real estate to help answer questions that have been vexing our clients. This time around, we help recent homebuyers settle into their new role as property owners.
After a long search and some near misses, we have finally become homeowners and couldn’t be more excited. However, even though we feel like we mastered the whole home-buying process, now that we are officially homeowners, we acknowledge that there is a whole lot more to learn, especially when it comes to property maintenance. We’re amateurs in this department, but are eager to learn, realizing that a little DIY and/or preventative maintenance can go a long way. Do you have any tips in regards to what we should be on the lookout for?
Congratulations on your new purchase, and as you bask in the glow of the initial days of home ownership, you touch on a very good point. Homeownership is not a static activity; you always have to be thinking a few steps (or years) ahead, the reason being is that your home is an asset that will just continue to grow over time if you maintain it properly. We've touched on this before in Dear Urbaneer: How Do I Set My Home Up For Financial Success? Furthermore, housing components in intentionally built for obsolescence, so for the homeowner, there will always be a something to attend to in the property maintenance department.
In addition to having a project list for renovations and repair, it’s a good idea to make a regular practice of checking on several building components on a regular basis, so as to identify potential problem areas before they get out of hand. Here is a handy article from TREB with a checklist of home improvements that you’ll likely want to consider and budget for over the years of home ownership.
Here are some of urbaneer’s home maintenance tips and guidelines, as well as some thoughts on how to create a home maintenance schedule.
Your Regular List
Don't underestimate the value of the good, old-fashioned to do list. When it comes to home repairs and desired renovations, writing things down not only helps you prioritize, it helps you track and plan your activities. As many of your home's components will deteriorate over time, it's handy to have a list to help you optimize your time, and will help you make sure you are attending to repairs in a timely matter. We've written on how to generate a quality home maintenance list in this past post: "Dear urbaneer: We've Moved Into Our Home. Now What?"
In terms of repair and maintenance points your list should include these regular rotation suggestions:
- Make a point of heading down to your basement on a regular basis and check for leaks, especially after a rainstorm.
- Also in your basement, check your HVAC (heating, ventilation and cooling) system. Look for rust and listen for 'strange' noises. Change or clean filters. Depending on your needs and the air quality in your house you may not necessarily need to change them often (quarterly is likely fine) but make a habit of checking them, along with the unit to see that everything is in good repair.
- Inspect your smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors and make sure that they are in working order, with battery backup (change batteries at least twice a year). Also make sure that you have working fire extinguishers on at least two floors in your house.
- Also check your hot water heater for signs of stress, like rust, pooling water or signs of water damage.
- In the kitchen, clean out your drains with a concoction of vinegar poured over baking soda. It will clean out any building clogs in your kitchen pipes, as well as make the area smell fresher.
- While you are in the kitchen, inspect your ice maker lines in your fridge if you have one. Did you know that leaks from these ruptured lines (along with washing machine hoses, which you should check regularly as well) are some of the biggest damage contributors to flooding and water damage? These hoses look innocent enough, but a leak in one of these can generate gallons upon gallons of water in no time - which means expensive and inconvenient water damage.
- Degrease your hood fan and clean off the coils on your fridge. Grease can create a fire hazard and dusty coils make your fridge run less efficiently.
- Check your plumbing (especially toilets and showers that you don’t use often). Check for leaky faucets and test water pressure. If it’s weak, it’s not too hard to fix with a compressor. It might be that minerals have built up in the faucets, so take them apart and soak overnight in a bag of vinegar and water to loosen any sediment. The same applies for shower heads.
- Tend to smaller repairs as needed, like loose handles and door knobs. Check out the tile grout in the kitchen and bath. A little attention on an ongoing basis extends the life of these smaller items (and keeps extra expense at bay).
And here's our seasonal To-Do summary:
Spring is a big time for home maintenance, because the melting of the snow can reveal damage to your house that you wouldn’t have been able to attend to during the winter snow and cold.
- Start by doing a full visual inspection of the exterior, including siding/brick, roof, windows and eavestroughing. Repair any damage to windows (sometimes they crack over the winter). Repair or replace screens.
- On the inside, engage in a thorough spring clean. It’s revitalizing to shake off those winter doldrums and reinvigorate your space with your personal energy.
- Check out the grounds around your home. Did any trees or shrubs die over the winter? Now is the time to tidy them up.
- Clean out the window wells. Chances are there are dead leaves or garbage that have accumulated there over the winter months.
- Before temperatures climb, it is a good idea to get your air conditioning system serviced, so that it’s ready to go when you need it.
While summer is definitely about relaxation, there are a few outdoor activities that are fairly low-effort, but are important in helping your home run swimmingly.
- Clean out dryer vents and other vents to the outside. It’s much nicer to do it when it’s warm outside. Repair and power wash your deck or patio, if it is needed.
- Take some time to tend to your garage, if you have one. The garage is one of the most often overlooked areas of your home. It’s square footage you could be using to get organized and maximize your storage space. This task is way more pleasant when you can leave the garage door open.
Before the temperature drop and the snow flies, here's what you should check before Winter arrives:
- Tend to trees, especially those with branches near power lines or that could fall on your home during a wicked winter storm, or made heavy with ice rain. Wrap shrubs and bushes to protect them through the harsh season.
- It’s worthwhile having a tune-up of your furnace done in the fall, just to make sure that everything is running smoothly. Better to fix it now then in deep dark January. The same premise applies to your air conditioner prior to the summer season. When you’ve switched your A/C off for the season, make sure to wrap it up well to protect it from damage. If you’ve got window units, get those out before the snow flies.
- To make sure that your heating will be most effective over the winter, inspect windows and doors for cracks or potential draughts. By letting warm air escape, you are causing your furnace to work harder (and increase your heating bills).
- If you’ve got a fireplace, this is the season to get your chimney cleaned out. If you’ve got a gas fireplace, take some time pre-cold season to make sure that the pilot light is working well, and clean the glass insert, so that you can properly bask in the glow of firelight.
- Make sure outdoor faucets are turned off and hoses put away. This is also a good season to flush your hot water tank out as well (sediment will gather over time, which can create damage).
We’ve written in the past about how to winterize your home. Peruse one of our previous installments, Dear Urbaneer: How Do I Prepare My House For Winter?, for more detailed instructions.
Although we become susceptible to hibernating in the cold winter months, we recommend you tackle these potential issues:
- Take some time to test your sump pump. With melting snow and increased rain in the coming spring months, flood risk increases, so you want to make sure that your sump pump is working (and they don’t last forever). Having a working sump pump is your best way to mitigate flood damage - which otherwise can be devastating.
- Make sure that your vents outside are not blocked with snow. This can create a fire hazard, as well as wreak havoc with your heating system.
At urbaneer, we don’t just help you buy your dream home, we set you up to have the best quality of life while you are living there. We help you consider how to preserve and grow that “home” asset, and share with you ways in which to really embrace the activities of home ownership.
At urbaneer, we’re always here to help!
~ Steven and the urbaneer team
earn you trust, then your business
Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage - (416) 322-8000
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