We provide regular maintenance to our cars, sporting gear, ATVs, and hopefully our own health; why would it be any different when it comes to our home or investment properties? As property owners, most of us are guilty of viewing building maintenance much like our dentist; we avoid checkups as much as we can, until one day we have a serious problem which costs a fortune to take care of. If we had gone to our twice a year checkups, chances are the dentist could have identified the issue before it became a serious problem; turning our $300.00 a year checkup bill, into a $1200.00 procedure. Implementing a regular, routine maintenance program for our properties is just like our dental checkups. They enhance curb appeal, ensure safety, identify potential future hazards, and prevent neglected upkeep from turning into costly major repairs
Outright damage to your house is just one of the consequences of neglected maintenance. Without regular upkeep, your overall property values can be affected. A study by researchers at the University of Connecticut and Syracuse University suggested that regular maintenance actually increases the value of a house by about 1% each year; so put that latte down and head outside with a caulking gun – chores actually make you money. Proactive maintenance is the key to preventing small problems from becoming big issues. Take the initiative with regular inspections. Create and faithfully follow a maintenance schedule. If you’re unsure of what needs to be done, a $200 to $300 visit from a professional inspector, or a certified tradesperson, can be invaluable in pointing out quick fixes and potential problems. It is also far easier than waiting until something breaks and then having to scramble to get it fixed.
If you rent out your investment properties, regular maintenance becomes all the more necessary. Failing to keep your investment properties to municipal standards can create issues with Property Standards, Public Health Units, Fire Marshalls, and a list of other services. What can they do? Well you could ask Mr. Robert Hummel of St. Catherines, Ontario. He was fined $20,000 for failing to comply with inspection orders under the Ontario Fire Code. (You can read the story at the St. Catherines Standard)
Even some cracked caulk around the windows may not seem like much but behind that caulk, water could get into your sheathing or flashing, causing mold and rot. Before you know it, you’re looking at a $5,000 repair that could have been prevented by a $4 tube of caulk and a half hour of your time.
So how much money should you be setting aside for maintenance? Some years, routine maintenance, such as cleaning gutters, painting rental units, weather stripping, and so on, are all that’s needed, and your total expenditures may be a few hundred dollars. Other years may include major replacements, such as a new roof, exterior repairs to brick or siding, window replacements, and other tasks costing well into the thousands of dollars. We’ve always found a good rule of thumb is to allocate 1% to 3% of the property’s value to fund a maintenance budget. If you own a multi-family unit valued at $500,000 then you should be setting aside $5,000 to $15,000 towards a maintenance program. The same concept applies to your own home. It may seem like a lot, but that covers upkeep and replacements. Truthfully, some years you may not even come close to using up that amount, other years you may well and truly go over the set aside amount; the important thing is that the funds are available because they will be needed.
On one final note, if you live in Kingston, Ontario or Frontenac County, and you find your home in dire need of repairs but you lack any funds to do them, there is a Kington and Frontenac Renovates Program. The program offers eligible homeowners grants of up to $3500 to make their homes more accessible or interest-free loans of up to $10,000 toward emergency repairs. Funding is allocated on a priority basis. There are income limits associated with this program. You can read more about the program on the City of Kingston Website. It is a fantastic program designed to help keep lower income families in their homes.
Barry Property Management