The Key to Saving Money in Real Estate: Property Maintenance
For many investors, spending money on maintenance is like pulling a tooth … avoid at all costs and spend as little as possible.
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However, I would argue that proper maintenance typically equates to fewer emergency repairs and less damage in the long run. The longer you leave a problem the more damage that can occur and the more money you end up spending.
Here are a list of items that should be watched closely and properly maintained in an effort to prevent more expensive future repairs.
The foundation of your rental property is an area that is most exposed to the possibility of water seepage and costly repairs.
It is important to watch how the land slopes in relation to the foundation and attempt to obtain as much slope away from the foundation as possible. The last thing you want is for water to drain toward the foundation wall and puddle, slowly seeping into the building.
Over time, this can cause major damage to the foundation, your basement or crawl space (not to mention mold and mildew issue as well).
There are several things to watch out for when it comes to the roof.
You want to look for red flags such as missing shingles, damaged flashing and any clear signs of damage to the roof. Another thing that can cause damage to your roof over time is moisture.
You want to be sure that the roof doesn’t show any signs of moss, mold or piles of debris as this can breed moisture below and cause major damage to the roof by way of wood rot.
You also want to be sure that you have fully functioning attic vents as well as quality insulation in order to prevent your roof from experiencing excessive moisture or heat.
Gutters can also be a big source of problems if they are not utilized properly and well maintained. If the building doesn’t have any, consider installing them. This can help protect the face of the property, keep windows and other exterior items free from harm, and provide you with the means to control diverting rainwater away from the foundation.
If you have gutters you want to be sure that you have them free of debris at all times. This can typically be managed through regular gutter cleanings, especially during and after Fall.
Check over the gutters to be sure that they are fastened correctly to the building and that they have no gaps that can cause a slow down or redirection of the water flow.
Landscaping and Trees
Many people assume that landscaping is purely esthetic, but having a well landscaped property can actually protect the property as well.
Take time to look over the trees in the yard and be sure that they are not touching any of the buildings or structures. A tree can easily rub against a building, causing long term damage while limbs and leaves can cause moisture build up on the roof as well.
Not to mention the fact that large trees next to the property are always one strong storm away from falling on the residence and causing major damage.
Another thing to watch for with regard to your landscaping is the proximity of shrubs and plants are to the building itself. These can attract rodents and animals that want to live in them or use them to get to your roof and into your building.
Shrubs and bushes that are touching the building can also provide an area that is likely to retain moisture that comes from the vegetation. This can cause mold, mildew and ultimately rot. Make sure that there is no dead wood (even when used for landscaping purposes) too close to the building as this tends to attract insects (particularly termites) to the building.
If you have vinyl siding on your building, you want to be sure it is in good repair with no areas that are cracked or broken – which can allow moisture and pests into the home.
You also want to take the time to make sure all wooden siding is properly sealed and painted to prevent exposure to the elements. Keep a close eye out for areas of the siding that have blistering or peeling paint. It is possible that you have some moisture or ventilation issues within the home if you spot these.
Windows are another area where you can lose significant money without proper maintenance. The windows should all be sealed properly and weatherproof sealant should be applied to any gaps around the frame.
Improperly sealed windows not only cause energy loss, but can also be a source of moisture damage.
Maintaining the plumbing in a rental property is a good way to save money as well.
Small leaks that occur on the property can very quickly turn into much bigger problems and can result in an emergency call to a plumber. By keeping an eye on any small leaks and addressing quickly, you will not only save on major repairs later, but you will be saving energy and water in the process.
If your property has an HVAC unit, you want to make sure that you keep up on regular maintenance.
This might including having a service professional visit the unit regularly to oil all moving parts and make sure that it is running efficiently.
Simple actions such as changing out the filters in the unit can help you keep the unit running longer and save you costly repairs or even replacement later. Replacing the filters should really be done on a monthly basis but definitely not less than every 3 months.
Every property should have properly functioning smoke detectors and perhaps carbon monoxide detectors.
As a matter of fact, many building codes require that you have these systems functioning in order to rent the property. Keeping these items maintained is easy and well worth the time.
Simply changing the battery regularly and testing the function of the devices can ensure that they are working properly. Overlooking this small maintenance item can be a huge liability for you personally as well as the house itself.
Keeping up with all of the different maintenance items on a property may seem daunting at first. I recommend creating a list of tasks, when they should be accomplished and the person responsible for the job.
This can take the difficulty out of the process and help landlords stay organized – especially if there are multiple properties to keep up with.
Taking the time to make sure that your rental property is well maintained is simply part of the responsibility of owning investment property. Not only does it make good business sense, it will likely save you money in the long run.
Has neglecting property maintenance ever cost you money?
Be sure to leave your comments below!