Setting Home Repair Priorities

This article is from my July 2011 REMAX website newsletter.

Setting Home Repair Priorities

When it comes to home maintenance and repair, deciding where to start can be a daunting task. Beyond the "fix-it-after-it-breaks" emergency situations, prioritizing preventative maintenance can be a bit challenging.

When looking at the laundry list of potential home repairs for your house, you'll want to move to the top items that threaten your family's safety and security, and the structure of your home and its critical systems.

Safety First

Potential safety concerns should always be fixed as soon as they are identified. Any problem area in your home that could adversely affect the health or well-being of your family members or pets is not a "to-do" list item that you schedule when time and budget allows.

Some of the most commonly needed "safety" home repairs include:

Railings and banisters: Ensure all hardware is securely fastened to the wall or support structures to prevent serious falls. Split or worn railings should be replaced with new hardware.

Walkway cracks/uneven walkways
: Outdoor footpaths are often overlooked, but cracked or wobbly walkways can easily lead to slip-and-fall injuries.
Smoke detectors: Smoke detectors should be tested monthly as part of your home safety plan, and batteries should be replaced semi-annually. Consider adding additional smoke detectors in bedrooms or guest rooms where they do not already exist.

Lighting: When lights burn out in walkways and stairwells, move quickly to replace the bulbs to prevent any potential night-time slips or falls.
Porch steps: A porch step that falters or feels springy may be on the verge of giving out, potentially leading to a nasty landing. Secure loose steps as soon as the issue is noticed, and repair any stairs that show signs of wear or structural issues.

Electrical outlets: Outlets should be periodically tested to ensure the ground-fault circuits are working.

Security

Addressing security concerns should be another top priority when considering home repairs or upgrade projects. Protecting your home, your family and your possessions often involves investing in your home's indoor and outdoor security.

Some common security-related home repair and upgrade projects include:

Windows: Repair any loose or faulty window latches, and carefully check the security on lower level windows that could be accessed from the outside.

Doors: That loose exterior door knob is more than a slight nuisance, it also represents a security risk inviting potential burglars into your home. Promptly fix any finicky doorknobs, deadbolts that won't turn or other door security problems.

Outdoor lighting: Just as replacing lighting indoors can be a safety measure, making sure your home is adequately lit outdoors adds another layer of security. Exterior security lights, often operating on motion sensors, illuminate the darkness around your home when someone enters the immediate vicinity. Promptly replacing burnt out bulbs in exterior security lights, porch lights, and outdoor walkway lighting helps make your home a less attractive target for would-be thieves.
Garage doors: Burglars frequently target garages as a weak point by which to gain entry into the homes they rob. Garage doors that aren't closing properly or unreliable automatic garage door systems represent a significant home security disadvantage. Promptly address garage door problems as soon as they crop up to avoid leaving your home vulnerable.

Security systems: Adding even a basic electronic security system can enhance your piece of mind and provide added security to your home. Alarm systems provide a deterring factor, but they also need to be maintained to work effectively.

Water Hazards

Water damage is one of the most costly foes a homeowner can face. Many home inspectors consider water related issues the number one concern for homeowners. Not only does water damage affect the walls and floor in the room where a leak or flood occurs, water issues can easily lead to long-term structural problems for the house as a whole. Repairing any potential sources of water leaks or water-related damage should be a top priority for any homeowner.

Common "water" fixes at home include:

Gutters and downspouts: Cleaning out rain gutters and downspouts should be a regular checklist item to prevent unexpected overflows. Don't ignore gutters or spouts that appear bent, cracked or twisted - misdirected rainwater can quickly become a huge headache.

Stucco: Repair cracks in exterior wall stucco to avoid leaks.
Exterior paint: Often seen as purely a cosmetic upgrade, replacing cracked and worn exterior paint with a new paint job or touch up paint (using high quality materials) can help prevent wood rot or other water issues.

Re-caulking: Re-caulking around showers, bathtubs, sinks and toilets can help keep water from spreading through to walls and floors.

Window leaks: Repair and re-seal window leaks to prevent mold issues and structural damage to your home.

The Roof Over Your Head

Keeping your roof in good condition helps protect your home from potentially catastrophic water leaks. Water issues stemming from roof problems can lead to a number of costly home repairs in the future. Periodic roof inspections should be a part of your proactive home repair strategy. The frequency at which you schedule professional roof inspections for your home will vary depending on the age, style and materials of your roof.

A full-scale roof replacement is one of the more costly home repair projects you can undertake, but periodic inspections and subsequent smaller repairs can extend the life of this vital structure.

Jim Starwalt

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Jim Starwalt, Broker Associate RE/MAX Center, Phone: 847-548-2625 Jim@StarHomeFinders.com


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