You’ve Just Spent All Your Money On House… So Here’s How To Maintain It
Current house prices are forcing large numbers of first home buyers to lower their sights and buy houses in poor to average condition. Old, neglected rental properties that have doubled in value in the past 10 years and have had minimal maintenance carried out over that time. In the desperation of getting on the property ladder, buyers are settling on these run down properties.
“Regularly maintaining your home optimises its value, extends the life of the building materials, enhances appearance, and allows early identification and fixing of minor issues before they become large problems” Branz 2013
At first bringing your newly purchased property back to life may seem like a mountain of a task, but here’s a few helpful tips to bring your property up to a maintainable standard.
Clear vegetation at least 1m back from your building
Typically in Wellington, houses are perched on the side of a hill surrounded by gardens and greenery. Whilst Wellington houses can look nice, nestled in the bush, the bush tends to grow faster than it can be cut back. Once upon a time what was once a lovely wild privacy hedge or garden starts to encroach on its neighbouring houses. Mixed with the fantastic horizontal rain we are blessed with in Wellington, moisture becomes trapped for sustained periods of time by the plants growing on the side of your house.
Removing the vegetation regularly will allow for adequate ventilation of the cladding and subfloor materials. If areas of your house cant receive direct sun, airflow is the next best method of drying moisture. It is also a good idea if possible to trim or remove any larger vegetation that is shading your house from the sun for extended periods of time. Letting more sunlight reach your building will help kill off moss and mould growing on the exterior of your new house. This will also give you a chance to more closely inspect the condition of the cladding and sub floor areas of your house.
Ensure rain water is controlled.
As fore mentioned it rains often in Wellington. Sometimes drizzle and sometimes a deluge. No matter how much it rains, it is important to ensure that water can be controlled.
The environment around your home changes over time. Naturally, gardens grow bigger and changing seasons often mean downpipes and gutters might fill with leaves. Or unnatural work to improve your property like planter boxes and new paths around your house may be formed. Often landscaping work is done in the summer when it is dryer and the full effect of rain water may not be considered.
An important consideration when creating paths close to your house is to slope any finished surface away from the building. The building code requires a finished surface (concrete, pavers) to be at least 100mm below your cladding (unless you have brick cladding). These two steps help to deflect water away from your home and give your cladding a chance to dry. We go to too many jobs where concrete has been poured hard against weatherboards causing them to rot and let water into the house.
For more information on ground clearances check out https://www.weathertight.org.nz/new-buildings/detail-solutions/floor-levels-and-clearances/
When dealing with water it is important to factor in the four D’s.
These are essential to the design of any building.
It is important to check and clean your gutters and down pipes, gullies and traps regularly. Along with clearing any drains that you can access. When the next down pour comes, I’m sure it won’t be far away. Observe how water moves around your property, does it drain away from your house? If not, it is essential that you can divert the water before it approaches your house or at the minimum allow it to drain away quickly from around your house. Yes you might have to get wet!
Read The Building Report
Usually when purchasing a property, a building report satisfactory to the purchaser is a condition on the sale and purchase agreement. Due to the hot housing market some of these conditions are being left off the S&P. So if you haven’t already got a building report, consider getting one! The best ones come from independent builders who are in the construction industry not the real estate industry. The building report is a great document to prioritise your house maintenance schedule off. Usually a report will have some form of “Needs attention scale” Red flags need immediate attention, Orange flags needs attention soon, Green flags item is good and scheduled maintenance will maintain its current condition. Here is an example from my own properties building report
- Roof Material
Due for chemical wash in the near future Roof needs regular cleaning
- Roof Condition
- Some nails need to be replaced and some hit back down, then clean and repaint the roof
- Water Collection
- Plastic. Gutters need regular cleaning. Some minor damage that needs attention
As you can see, the roof is due for scheduled maintenance e.g a chemical wash. Some roofing nails need replacing and re driving and the gutters need to be cleaned and some joins fixed. So in my first 6 weeks of ownership I had the roofing nails replaced with roofing screws and cleaned the gutter and fixed the loose joins. Once summer arrives the roof will be washed and the following Autumn it will be painted before winter.
This immediate and scheduled maintenance will ensure the longevity and health of my home for my family and I.
I would encourage all home owners to develop a maintenance schedule that is fit for your house and your ability. If in doubt talk to a builder about what maintenance needs priority and what can be done easily by the homeowner themselves. Here at Country and Coast Construction we are friendly bunch who have the knowledge and understanding to help you ensure your biggest asset is well maintained and a comfortable place to live.
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