Small repairs matter

Do you have a regular maintenance plan for your home? Do you fix problems when they arise? Perhaps you should.

We’ve seen some significant problems caused by the homeowner putting off small maintenance jobs or fixes. We know there’s always something more fun to do on your day off, but sometimes the jobs just need doing, or there could be trouble ahead.

Put off a cheap job now, expensive repair later

Here are some classic examples of how homeowners put off the cheap DIY jobs (or not so expensive jobs by a local handyman) only to end up with an expensive repair later on.

1. Leaky rainwater pipes hinder house sale

This rainwater pipe is in the rear corner of a modern home, the downpipe joint is open and so water simply gushes down the wall rather than going to the drainage system.

The garden stuff had been piled up against it a bit, but otherwise the owner probably walks past it 10 times a week and thinks: “I must fix that at the weekend.”

broken downpipe causes dampness- try and repair before survey

We discovered it on a house survey for a prospective purchaser. All that was needed was to push the two parts back together. It was a simple repair. In this case, when I saw it was able to put the pipe together in approximately seven seconds (not that we do building work or that the repair was done with any liability, etc). Ideally a small screw through the joint would secure it against slippage in the future.

So the fault is fixed, but the damage is done. It must have been like this for months. All those times the owners walked by and missed opportunities to fix it have resulted in a damp problem. The wall internally is damp where the outer leaf has become soaked from rainwater, and the cavity is bridged by poor construction, insulation and mortar droppings.

The seven-second repair that could have been done last September is now a much bigger and more expensive project. The kitchen units need to be taken out to get to the affected area so it can dry out and the wall has can be repaired, then redecorations will probably need to be undertaken when the kitchen units go back.

Not only that, this was the property of a homeowner looking to sell. The decision they had to make was whether to sell to my client at a reduced value, or get the work undertaken properly in order to get their asking price from someone else, much later on.

2. Spend £1.20 now, or £1000 in a year?

That pesky missing gutter end cap, you know the £1.20 (ish) part that push fits onto the gutter if only you could be bothered to go up the ladder, or get a handyman in to quickly fix it. The one you remember every time it rains and the water just pour out of the gutter. Hardly worth it really is it?

Well, this is what we found at a house we looked at.

A missing end cap meant that the gutter water had dripped down the front elevation where it then landed on a telephone junction box, from where it splashed back up the wall.

Left unchecked, we think for well over a year, the problem is now complicated. The soft red bricks have become saturated and have started to fail. This has led to internal penetrating damp (something we are often asked to survey for clients).

Repairs will be necessary to the brickwork – cutting out and replacing the failed bricks. Internally the plaster will need to be hacked off and replaced and then, of course, the room redecorated. We estimate this would cost at least £1500, and if it’s not done soon the problem will get much worse (and will be even more expensive to put right). And the £1.20 end cap will still need to be replaced!

What can I do to prevent expensive house repairs?

Got a small, tiny job on your house that needs doing? Don’t put it off, all you are doing is setting yourself up for future expenses and, if you’re selling, a problematic surveyors report.

Here are some key maintenance jobs you might want to undertake on your property to try to prevent future works at greater cost.

  • Make sure exterior paintwork on wooden doors and windows is kept in good condition
  • Check your rendering and pointing and repair it if is loose or friable.
  • Check and repair drainpipes and guttering that may be leaking
  • Clear ant blocked gutters (often an autumn job because of leaves
  • Check taps aren’t dripping (especially an outside tap)
  • Make sure that any overflow pipes that are dripping are dealt with
  • Do have an annual boiler service and maintenance
  • Check and fix tile sealant and grout, especially around baths and showers
  • Annual chimney sweep (if you have a working chimney in use)

Collier Stevens provides building surveys and homebuyer reports across London and Kent – if you need some help please get in touch.

More information

Do you have an annual or ongoing maintenance plan for your property? This article is a useful guide for what you should plan when, in order to prevent any expensive restorative measures.