Deferred maintenance occurs when a homeowner puts off necessary repairs either due to cost or a lack of spare time, and it's unfortunately relatively common for people to do. While understandable for homeowners to try to delay five-figure repairs, such as replacing the roof or fixing the foundation, the consequences of doing so can be drastic. The good news is that managing maintenance (and mitigating the damage of deferred repairs) is possible once homeowners understand how they can spend their limited resources to limit the degradation of the structure or grounds.
Catching It Early
Even if a homeowner can't afford to fix the problem with DIY projects, noticing it in the infancy stages can give all the residents an edge. The key is for homeowners to really familiarize themselves with their pipes, fuses, floorboards, and crawlspaces. These spaces can be easily overlooked by homeowners, which is why they tend to be the most costly when they're in need of repair. Now is a good time for everyone to learn how to switch off the main power source or how to turn a single water line off.
Take photos during inspections to see how things are changing and the rate at which they're changing. Some problems take years to develop, so while it isn't generally recommended for homeowners to wait, some repairs can be pushed down the line if they're unlikely to pose a problem anytime soon.
Weigh the Consequences
When noting each section of the property, it's a great time for homeowners to keep a simple rule in mind: the cost to fix a deferred problem is about four times that of its original price tag. And while this is just an average, it's easy to see why it's a such an extreme ratio. A single snagged tile can eventually start to unravel the entire floor if homeowners aren't careful. A small crack in the foundation can significantly increase the chances of water damage.
See the Safety Hazards
The physical safety of residents should be the highest priority, meaning a burned out light bulb in a hallway has to be taken care of immediately. If there are large cracks in the wall that look like stairs, it's a sign the home could be unstable or uneven due to foundation damage.
Home is such a familiar place to most people that owners can become blinded to the potential hazards that lurk within. It's far more likely for someone to slip and break their leg than it is for a criminal to enter the home while everyone's asleep.
Experts recommend temporary fixes to at least mitigate the dangers. From duct tape to caulk, there are short-term solutions that will only cost homeowners a few dollars. Flushing out or cleaning the gutters, replacing a clogged filter, or filling in gaps to a hardwood floor can all go a long way to improving safety.
Tips for Better Maintenance
Homeowners may have a huge responsibility on their hands, but they can make it easier:
- Routine: Homeowners who develop a consistent routine have a much better chance of catching problems than someone who haphazardly tours the grounds and structure.
- Technology: New apps are being developed every day to help homeowners keep track of everything they need to do to keep their property in the best possible shape.
- Budget: Deferred maintenance is generally a matter of finances. Homeowners who first estimate the cost of repairs before trying to cut costs have a better chance of affording professional help or quality materials.
An unsafe property isn't just dangerous in terms of physical injury, it can also open up homeowners to a particularly damaging lawsuit. For example, a postal worker who trips on a loose walkway paver could potentially sue for damages. It can also destroy the resale value of the home, especially if the repairs are left for years on end. Owners may be reduced to selling a home as-is, a label that tends to attract home flippers who want to buy low and sell high.
And while it may sound dramatic, too much deferred maintenance on a block can ultimately cause the collapse of the entire street. If one homeowner isn't fixing their windows, it may cause another neighbor to neglect their home too. Maintenance shows everyone in the neighborhood that homeowners are paying attention, which can help keep the block safer for all.
Home maintenance shouldn't just be seen as a weekend chore, but rather as a way for Cougar Ridge homeowners to really take an interest in what they've worked so hard to purchase. Employ the above principles to keep the home as safe as possible.