All home owners and property managers should have a property maintenance checklist to help them keep their home or other premises in top condition.
1. The roof. Inspect this for missing tiles or slates after every storm and in any event at least twice a year for weather or insect damage.
2. The guttering. Often neglected, this should be regularly inspected, including in early winter for leaf deposits, to ensure there is no blockage that can put a strain on the metalwork or cause water to cascade down onto an outside wall.
3. Outside walls. Check these twice a year for signs of rising or penetrating damp. In particular check the damp proof course near the ground level and that there is nothing "bridging" it, e.g. a pile of earth stacked against the wall.
4. Inside walls and ceilings. Check every month for signs of penetrating or rising damp, or condensation problems. Review the state of the paintwork on walls and woodwork.
5. The loft, or attic. Check the woodwork for signs of woodworm or rot, and the inside of the roof for signs of water penetration. If the water tank is in there check its insulation and pipe work. Lofts, especially if insulated, can become freezing cold in winter.
6. Security. This needs to be inspected every so often to ensure that all window and door locks work smoothly. Don't leave any windows open when the property is empty. Don't leave any ladders outside unsecured. If leaving the property empty for any length of time, arrange for a neighbour to visit regularly or have some of the lights come on and off at odd times automatically.
7. Plumbing and heating. This is another area usually taken for granted. Do regular checks during very cold weather. Examine any pipe insulation at the start of each winter and renew if necessary. Boilers should be serviced at least once a year. Check for dripping taps every month or so and renew washers if necessary. Toilets should be cleaned at least once a week. Keep the enamel stain-free by pouring a can of cola drink down the toilet every so often and leaving overnight.
8. Ventilation and insulation. Check all windows regularly to ensure any fanlights open as required. Old wood-framed sash windows particularly can be inclined to stick and remain permanently shut. Ensure sufficient ventilation particularly in kitchen and bathroom areas where warm, moist air has to be regularly removed to prevent condensation. Check any gas flues for blockages.
9. Electrical wiring. This is normally concealed beneath the plaster work and so normally needs little attention. Any exposed wiring should be seen to immediately. Watch for DIY extension sockets that leave wiring trailing over the floor - this should be covered up safely.
10. Outdoors. This should be checked at least once every few months, including at the end of autumn when all the leaves have fallen. Grass should be cut regularly during the summer, and borders trimmed. Leaves and other natural debris should be removed. Oil deposits on the driveway can be removed by putting some sand on it and sweeping it away later. It's surprising how just a little attention now and then can make your garden look well cared for, and increase the salability of your house, should you be looking to sell.
Keeping a "sinking fund" for unexpected property expenses may not be easy for most of us, but if you can do it then it can be a big help when the odd large expense does arise. This applies especially to business property maintenance.
If you think there may be a problem looming with anything on your property maintenance checklist, taking a photograph of it every week or so in order to track any changes or developments can be very useful.
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