Planning Home Maintenance When working with new homebuyers a question that often arises is “what happens if the hot water tank breaks?”. Now it may seem obvious to those who currently own but to those who haven’t it can be a cause of sheer panic. Heck, even those who own and are familiar with home maintenance can panic at any unexpected expense.

I’ve been working on a video series called Home Maintenance Minutes over the last year with the aim to cover home maintenance items that often arise during home inspections: furnace filters, moss on a roof… etc. These smaller and regular  maintenance items are critical to preventing larger scale expenses and panic situations.

With that said, how does a homeowner plan and prioritize home maintenance items? That is the target for this blog post and if you’re facing items and feeling a bit overwhelmed then this blog is for you.

Step 1: Identify Needs and Wants

Identifying Needs and Wants will aid in a building a workable list of maintenance items that can be addressed in the near future and wants that can be done without until the right time. It is helpful to ask your spouse, friend, parent, or even kids to assist and walk through and around the home taking notes.

Example: A Need is to replace a leaking garbage disposal. A Want is get a new flat screen for the master bedroom. A Need is to replace a leaking faucet and a Want to pick up the new release of Call of Duty.

Step 2: Separate the Needs and Wants lists into 2 Columns

I find it helpful to handwrite this step out. Using paper and pen, create two columns with Needs on the left and Wants on the right. Be very scrutinizing in this step and ask yourself: how long can I go with out ______?

Example: It is inconvenient to have a bucket under the sink just to empty it every time dishes are complete due to a leaking disposal yet I can live without another TV for a few more months.

Step 3: Put the Wants Column Away for Now.

The Wants can wait.

Step 4: Prioritize the Needs Lists from Least to Most Expensive

Open a browser on a phone, tablet, or computer and visit a hardware website like Lowe’s or Amazon to see prices. Go through the list one-by-one noting the cost of each item. Items like roofs and exterior home paint jobs are tough to quote off the internet and likely should have a contractor provide an estimate.

This step is usually is what stalls people from taking steps in their home maintenance goals. They see the roof or exterior home painting needing done, stress on the cost, end up not doing anything, and the affordable maintenance items don't get completed.

By prioritizing the maintenance list from least to most expensive it can be seen what immediate actions can be taken and liquidate the finances. Hose bib covers and a leaking faucets or plumbing is far more affordable that roofs and paint.

Step 5: Take Action

Now the Needs list is complete, start taking those steps to address that selected items.

Example: If the item is to get hose bib covers to prevent pipes from freezing then go to the local hardware store and purchase the desired number or open a web browser and order. If the item is a leaky faucet then visit the hardware store, look at styles and compare prices and see if you have the tools to replace/repair. If not, research how much tools will be because tools are worth owning.

Related: Home Improvement Ideas

Step 6: Congratulate Yourself for a Job Well Done!

Often over looked is celebrating. You did it! You took the time and accomplished a goal. Regardless of how small, how involved, and intense or how easy. You took the time to accomplish a goal and now feel good about getting a home maintenance item off the check list.

Step 7: Plan the Next Home Maintenance Item

Look at your budget and if another small item can be addressed then make it so. If not, save the money and make it a reality. Not all projects will be easy yet they can prevent larger items from costing thousands and that is money in the bank.

So why plan and prioritize home maintenance?

To protect a home’s value, to have a safe place to live, and not be surprised if planning to sell in the future.

I’ll close out with this.

There have been many many times in my real estate career that costly home inspection repairs arose the buyer requested the seller to address when those repairs were preventable. Don’t loose valuable home equity with preventable home maintenance.