How to start building your home’s annual maintenance checklist
Wondering how to start building your home’s annual maintenance checklist? There are few experiences more exhilarating than getting the keys to your first-ever home in Northern Virginia. After all, it’s yours. With all that freedom, however, comes a great deal of new responsibility. After all, there’s no more landlord to call when the roof starts leaking, or the furnace stops working. That person is now you. For many first-time homebuyers, the first year of homeownership can be a tough learning experience as they adjust to this new reality.
However, it doesn’t have to be this way. With the right care and upkeep for your new home, you’ll prevent many breakdowns and repairs in the first place, and feel more in-control and in-the-know about your home. What you need is a plan.
Prioritize the essentials
No homeowner, no matter how seasoned or experienced, bats a thousand when it comes to home maintenance. That’s just not how life works. Whether you’re working extra hours to finish that quarterly assessment at work or you and your spouse have a baby on the way, there are going to be points where your home is a lower priority than everything else going on. At those times, it’s easy for much of your home upkeep to fall by the wayside. However, it’s crucial that you know the difference between what you can—and what you can’t—let slide.
First, there’s essential maintenance to consider. This includes inspections, tune-ups, and repairs for your home’s most important components: its roof, HVAC systems, plumbing, electrical systems, and structure. The silver lining here is that upkeep in these areas isn’t do-it-yourself friendly, anyway, so a professional will handle a majority of the actual work.
You also need to immediately deal with any urgent repairs. Your home’s walls can wait a few months to be painted. Your lawn can wait a few weekends to be cut. However, if you notice a leak or water pooling at the base of the system, your water heater cannot wait for repairs. By doing so, you could be flirting with a disastrous tank burst. As busy as things might be at the moment, you need to turn your focus to getting a plumbing professional out to inspect, and then repair or replace, your water heater
It’s impossible to completely maintain your home in a single weekend, a single month, or even a single season. Your new home needs year-round attention and care. In fact, each season presents its own unique challenges and comes with its own projects. The fall, for instance, is all about getting ready for the winter snow and ice ahead. You’ll be cleaning out gutters and downspouts, winterizing your HVAC systems, and resealing your deck. Spring, in contrast, is all about warming weather and bringing your yard back to life. You’ll need to handle landscaping, roof repair, and repainting. And that’s just the outside of your home!
If you’re putting together your home’s first home maintenance checklist, start dividing out tasks by season. Some items—such as a roof inspection—might only need to happen once-per-year. Others, such as window cleaning, might be bi-annual tasks. When typing out this checklist, be sure to note any projects that will require the help of a professional. You’ll need to make sure you do your research on prospective contractors and schedule them in advance.
Set up a home maintenance budget
Now that you’ve got a good idea of what needs to get done this year, it’s time to start setting aside money for home maintenance and projects. There are two ways to approach this. The first, and simplest, is to use the time-honored savings method of saving 1% of your home’s market value annually. For a home worth $200,000, this means pulling $2,000 from your paychecks every year to cover that next year’s expenses.
However, since you now have a detailed checklist, you also have the option of pricing out and itemizing the cost of your home’s upkeep. This doesn’t need to be exact down to the penny, but if you know a roofing inspection costs about $100, you can plan ahead on setting that aside.
Neither of these savings models are perfect. Your home’s upkeep may cost more than what you’ve saved. We recommend you supplement this savings with additional deposits. Get a federal tax refund? Put a portion into this savings account. Bonus at work? Same thing. Eventually, this account will start to grow as it accrues more than you spend in an average year. The result is a robust “rainy day” fund you can use on big budget projects—like replacing an air conditioner or furnace.
You can do this!
For first-time homeowners, having to handle home maintenance is a major transition. Without a plan, it can feel like you’re constantly being surprised by breakdowns and problems. While a home maintenance checklist and budget can’t completely prevent emergencies from occurring, both can help you feel more in control of your home and be prepared for when urgent projects do arise.
To take the next step and plan out your seasonal home maintenance checklist, check out this infographic.
To learn more about MMK Realty visit our About Us page. For more tips and information feel free to contact me and follow me on social media on Facebook @mmkrealtyllc, Twitter @MMKRealtyLLC, and Instagram @mmkrealty. Also check out our Free Market Analysis. Sign up today and we will email you a free custom assessment of the current value of your home performed by MMK’s Principal Broker, Michelle Williams.