Nov 2, 2015

Saving Money on Home Repairs & Maintenance


Cleaning Gutters

London Bridge is falling down, falling down, falling down...

Well no wonder, did you see the shocking state of disrepair they let it get into?

It doesn’t take too much these days for properties to get into a bit of what might realistically called “a state”. An initially curable problem around the home such as dry rot, damp, a missing tile or two or damaged rendering might seem a bit of an distraction when you first notice it, something that you’ll either “get around to” or ask someone to “take a look at”.

But more often than not we just leave it to fester. After all, if we’re warm and dry indoors, what does it matter what the outside of the house looks like?

It’s when the outside comes indoors where the problems start.

Developers know this only too well. One of the tricks of their trade when they’re looking to build on a plot where planning permission might otherwise be difficult to get, will be to expose various parts of the existing property to the elements. Some tiles missing here and there, a window or two left open or outside doors removed.

Voila! In come all the elements and, after a time, the structural integrity of the house is, shall we say, slightly compromised. “Oh dear” say the developers, “’s become a bit of a liability, a danger even. It’ll have to come down”.

And so it does. Nature PLC has started the job for them, they’ll more than happily finish it off.

Fortunately, you are somewhat more conscientious about your home. And rightly so. Indeed, your focus, over time, is making it more pleasant to live in-an extension or loft conversion, maybe a conservatory and, as much as possible, a drive to make it thoroughly energy efficient.

I doff my cap to you.

It isn’t too surprising that repair costs to properties depend on both the age and type of the property therefore.

So if you’re scratching your head and wondering why it seems so much more expensive to maintain your late nineteenth century detached home in comparison to those your son or daughter has with their modern, purpose built flat then look no further than the properties in question.

The older a house is then, as a rule, the more it will cost to maintain and keep in a good state of repair.

Which sounds fairly obvious. But that hasn’t always been how it is perceived by property buyers.

Take, as just one example, the massive building programme of council housing that took place all over the country in the from the 1950’s through to the early 1970’s.

Many of these are now desirable properties to buy. The rooms are spacious, the gardens generous and the roof spaces, if a conversion might eventually be your thing, are generally cavernous.

Go into one with any prospective buyer and you can bet the one thing they will always do and say is give one of the internal walls a  proprietary slap before saying, “...ah, they built these to last. They’re solid”.

And so they might be. Providing they’re looked after. Because research into repair costs show that the cost of repair and upkeep to one of those property types, built, say between 1945 and 1964 is £11.80 per square metre, the same price for a property built after 1980 is just £3.10.

That’s quite a difference. So yes, they may well be “solid” and “built to last”. But it doesn’t mean they are self sustaining, indeed, if properties of that age are left to get into a state of disrepair then that once valued solidity will be one of the reasons that repair costs are so high. Solid means a lot of work and therefore a lot of labour will be needed.

So let’s hope that you never need a total electrical rewire in one.

Property is a good investment. Twas’ ever the case. But that doesn’t mean you can, as with an ISA or some stocks and shares, just leave it alone to accumulate in its own time. Because if you leave it well alone the only thing you’ll be accumulating is repair bills.

Take another look at our graphic. If you want to avoid hefty repair bills, either when you’ve moved in or over a period of time, it’s always better to buy a newer property. Detached and semi-detached houses plus purpose built flats from around 1980 onwards are the cheapest to maintain so purchasing any of these in good condition (and ensuring that it stays that way) could end up to be a more than worthwhile investment.

If you’re looking to convert an abandoned seventeenth century Church on the other hand-well, let’s just hope a little divine inspiration is still present in the walls-they weren’t forever banging on about how the roof needed repairing for nothing.