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The average American has at least nine 9 unfinished home improvement projects or repairs going at one time, according to a survey of 2,000 homeowners by Porch.com. So it’s no surprise that only 1 in 10 homeowners feel like they’re in control of their home maintenance responsibilities.
But just like our bodies need exercise to stay strong, our homes need regular upkeep or they’ll get “out of shape” and look older than their years—in fact, poor maintenance could knock off up to 10% of a home’s appraised value.
So don’t leave the TLC your house needs up to chance or trust your memory alone to keep track of dozens of tasks. Follow these steps to create a tailored home maintenance plan so you can be sure when it’s time to sell, nothing’s gone unnoticed that might hurt the value of your house.
Step 1: Do a walking tour to get to know your house better and take notes on your home’s specific maintenance needs.
To create a home maintenance plan for any type of property you’ll need a master list of tasks, but first you need to pinpoint the care your individual home requires.
Many of the tasks on your list will be universal so you can consult guides on the web, such as HomeLight’s comprehensive seasonal home maintenance checklist, to get started. Checkups on the heating, ventilation, and AC units; cleaning out the gutters; or checking caulk on windows and doors, for example, will apply to virtually every homeowner.
However, the specific maintenance your home requires will ultimately depend on factors such as your home’s building materials, age, and unique features such as skylights, pools, or an unfinished basement.
You’ll also want to customize the plan based on your region and weather patterns. Consider how Midwest homeowners need to think about winterizing pipes whereas those on the coast may incorporate hurricane preparations into their maintenance plan.
A walkthrough of the house—covering every living space, bedroom, floor, and nook and cranny—will help jog your memory about any easy-to-forget maintenance items. Make sure you grab a notebook and jot down what you see or take notes on your phone.
Here are just a few of the home-specific types of tasks that could make it onto your list:
- Bleed the radiators
- Check the crawlspace for vermin and mold
- Test well water for contaminants
- Skim, brush, and vacuum the pool/ check chemical balance
- Sweep the patio or lanai
- Test the sump pump
- Redirect downspouts away from the house
- Inspect the chimney
Step 2: Put all of your maintenance tasks in a spreadsheet and organize them by frequency.
Now that you’ve discovered everything around your home that requires maintenance, the list might look a little daunting. Bust out your old friend Excel and just do a task dump—get all of the maintenance items in one place.
From there, you can organize the tasks by frequency, such as:
- Seasonal: Spring/Summer/Fall/Winter
The frequency measure for your home maintenance tasks is key. If you don’t keep up on things at the right time, it could be a disaster—causing everything from dead carbon monoxide detector batteries to even a house fire.
“My husband is in the fireplace industry and according to NFPA 211, any wood burning unit, whether it’s a fireplace or a wood stove, should be inspected and cleaned once a year,” said Toni Vander Heyden, a top-selling agent in Rockford, Illinois.
“It’s very scary to think about a chimney fire. Some people say a chimney fire is a great way to clean up the creosote. But those flames and that heat are so high they have a great chance of cracking your chimney. Then you’ve got a void between the interior of your chimney and your attic.”
When in doubt, you can consult whoever is doing the maintenance work on your home or your trusty handyman about when certain elements of the house need to be maintained, and at what time of the year you should tackle them. When you think about putting your house on the market, target your efforts to those seasonal home maintenance tips that will help your home show at its best.
Step 3: Put each maintenance task into a planner or app.
If you want to be extra organized—and let’s be honest, with this, you do—find an app or a planner specific to home maintenance that you can use to create your plan and track your progress. Let’s review a few digital and analog options we recommend trying out depending on whether you prefer pen and paper or putting everything in the cloud.
Recommended home maintenance apps:
- Centriq is your one-stop-shop for appliance maintenance. Just input all your appliance information and if anything ever goes wrong, the app will have a database of use manuals, how-to videos, and repair person options specific to your appliances.
- HomeZada masterfully manages everything related to your home, including budget, home value estimates, and home maintenance plans—complete with alerts and reminders for monthly tasks.
- Wunderlist is essentially a massive to-do list that you create, with deadlines and reminders for tasks that need completing. But you can also share your list with others and delegate tasks to get the whole family involved.
Check out our comprehensive list of home maintenance apps if none of the above excite you.
Recommended home maintenance planners:
- The BLACK+DECKER Home Planner Logbook doesn’t just provide a space for all your records and maintenance tasks, it also has extensive information on the features of a home and why you need to maintain everything.
- If you live on a farm or homestead, The Homestead Planner Logbook has schedules and tracking space for everything you need to keep up with on those specific property types.
- The Home Maintenance Planner downloadable pages on Etsy compile everything you need to maintain based on its location inside or outside your home, plus offers a home inventory and contractor directory.
Step 4: Set reminders to stick to the plan.
The best-laid plans… you know the saying. No matter how thoughtfully you create your maintenance plan, you could still easily forget to do something. The solution? Set reminders.
If you’ve decided to use the apps above, you’ll be able set push notifications that remind you to take care of something on your list.
If not, think about adding at least the maintenance items that will require hiring a professional into a tool like Google Calendar. Schedule the reminders a couple weeks to a month sooner than you need to get the task done. That way, if you need to make an appointment with a contractor or repairperson, you’ll have time to do it and you won’t be calling anyone at the last minute.
HomeLight’s home maintenance schedule for sellers that you can add right to Google Calendar is one option to help you stack on track.
Step 5: Don’t forget to store those home maintenance records.
This is important both for you and for any potential buyers. Keep meticulous track of all your home maintenance records—i.e.,what work you’ve done on your house, when the work occurred, and how much it cost. That means hanging onto:
- Home improvement receipts
- Contractor invoices and receipts
- Estimates for work yet to be done
“Keep absolutely everything, even if you feel like it’s overkill,” says Vander Heyden.
It’s important for the eventual sale of the house. Vander Heyden recently had a house getting ready to close, and the homeowner told her he’d had the septic system pumped not that long ago. She wanted to show the receipt—which the seller couldn’t find—to the buyer’s agent. As it turned out, once he found the receipt, “not that long ago” was actually more than a year prior.
“Now we all look like liars,” she said. “My best homeowners are the most organized homeowners that keep everything in a tidy place.”
It’s easy to do. Once you go back to your lists to check off the task as completed, immediately store the paperwork in a file. Whether that’s analog or digital is up to you, but do it right away. Don’t check off that task until you’ve done it. You may even want to add a column to your spreadsheet reminding you to stash the paperwork in a safe spot.
You’ll thank yourself later for managing your home maintenance properly when the time comes to sell. Following a comprehensive maintenance plan and being sure everything gets repaired and updated will save you the hassle of repair requests and extra costs during sale negotiations. Depending on the update, you may even get more money than you expected for your house. Plus, you’ll be able to show potential buyers just how much you cared for the home.
“When you close out that house and on the counter is an accordion file of everything you’ve done to it, that shows pride of ownership,” Vander Heyden said. “When somebody takes care of their home, they’re going to make more money in the sale.”
Article Image Source: (Igor Ovsyannykov/ Fancy Crave)