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Homeowners advised to set aside a percentage of their house’s value each month for maintenance

The cost of home maintenance must be included in any household budget, regardless of a property’s age and location, says Mike Greeff, chief executive of Greeff Christie’s International Real Estate.

He says homeowners should start a maintenance fund into which they set aside a certain amount – 1% to 3% of the purchase price – every month.

Those who bought three or more years ago should request a property valuation from an experienced estate agent and calculate 1% to 3% from that amount.

“Having the security of a fund allows you to ensure that you can perform important maintenance tasks regularly and take on repairs as and when they crop up,” Greeff says, adding that neglecting maintenance inevitably leads to compounding, of which becomes much more expensive.

Homeowners should also conduct seasonal checks.

“Summer in the Western Cape, with its dry, sunny days, is the perfect time to check your roof and repair any cracks to ensure that your home is leak-free when the winter rains come. This is also the ideal time to damp-proof your walls and repair any damage already caused. Damp marks on ceilings are indications of roof leaks and bubbling and blistering paint is a sign of damp.”

He says external walls, doors and windows must be regularly checked. Cracks must be mended and wood treated and varnished to avoid rot which leads to contraction and inevitably to leaks.

March is a good time to cut back overgrown trees to minimise the chance of falling boughs and resultant damage to your buildings and property during winter storms.

Homeowners should clear their gutters regularly during the late summer and autumn months and ensure their down pipes are unblocked and draining properly.

Greeff advises: “Have your chimney cleaned and your fireplace serviced, particularly if it is a wood-burning stove. The same is true for a gas fire.”

Winter is the “perfect time” to prepare and invest in your garden, while spring is the “ideal season” to paint your home.

“This is also the time to discard rusted or beyond repair items such as garden furniture or awnings damaged by wind and rain.

“Boreholes should be serviced annually in spring. Maintenance of the pump and fixtures can help to prolong the life of certain borehole components.”

Other maintenance advice he offers is to:

* Regularly attend to loose or creaky timber floors, as these can be an indication of a faulty or dropped sub-floor structure.

* Clean drains regularly to avoid blockages.

* Check your water meter and your rates bills. If you suspect a leak, it pays to have a qualified leak detector do a thorough check and repair the problem.

Greeff says homeowners can save money by doing minor repairs themselves, if possible.

He adds that regular home maintenance is key when it comes to trying to sell your property as it can be tremendously stressful when you have a huge amount of costly repairs which have accumulated during your occupation.

“Even a dated property will sell if it’s neat, but in the current market, you have to be a step ahead of the buyer and this means eliminating the need for repair.”

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