Nobody ever cheers at the thought of tackling home repairs. They’re annoying, costly, time-sucking endeavors. So often we put them off, over and over, justifying to ourselves that they can wait. Light switch doesn’t work? Whatever—you never go in that room anyway. Squeaky floors? You’re already used to them!
But there are some home improvement projects that simply can’t wait, lest you risk much bigger problems (and costly expenses) down the line. Here are 12 home repairs experts say you should never put off:
Watch: 5 Home Repairs That Are Too Dangerous to Delay
1. A leaking roof
If you see water stains on your ceiling or down your walls, get moving on the repairstat—there are a host of problems that can arise and get progressively worse with a leaking roof.
“Not repairing a leak as soon as you notice it can lead to mold, damage to the structure of your home, water damage, and even fire if water comes in contact with electrical wiring,” says Carlos de León, vice president of the León Group, an estate management company on Long Island, NY. Scared yet? Good.
2. Damaged or missing shingles
This one seems obvious, but Derek Perzylo, owner of Big 5 Exteriors in Calgary, Canada, says he regularly encounters homeowners who have never had their roof inspected.
“After a big storm, especially if there’s a lot of gusting wind and hail, it’s always a good idea to visually inspect your roof,” he says. “If you see shingles out of place, or if you see shingles on the ground, you might have some damage that could cause potential problems, like leaks, down the road.”
3. Sagging roof
Roof sagging can be caused by moisture in the attic space, says Joe Todaro, director of operations at Gold Medal Service in East Brunswick, NJ. If left untreated, the structure of the wood will weaken and settle, causing cracks in the exterior walls. Proper ventilation is essential for an attic.
4. Cracks in the foundation
Your home’s foundation may develop small cracks over time, and it’s best to address them to prevent spreading. Otherwise you might have to replace the foundation, which can cost as much as $100,000. Large cracks that go unaddressed can lead to everything from leaking to parts of the concrete collapsing.
“The damage could be life-threatening if your home is not supported properly,” León says.
5. Gas leaks
Since natural gas and propane are heavier than air, they “pool” in the low points of your home. The second you smell gas (a telltale rotten egg–like smell), call your gas company and vacate the premises until a company worker arrives.
“You risk having an explosion or fire by not doing something about a gas leak immediately,” León says.
6. Plumbing leaks
Leaking water can lead to mold, structural problems, and health issues. Homeowners should check under sinks at least once a year to ensure no water is leaking into the cabinets. If you see any, call a plumber right away.
Is there good mold and bad mold? Not really. When you see it, deal with it. And simply having a “mold remediation” company come in to assess things is not the entire answer, says Jeff Wilson, HGTV host and author of “The Greened House Effect.”
“The reason the mold formed in the first place needs to be sussed out and the problem fixed by a building science professional trained by an organization like Building Performance Institute,” he says.
So just to be clear: While not all molds are life-threatening, all of them—even the ubiquitous shower mold—can potentially make you sick. So it’s best to be aggressive no matter what kind you see.
8. Overtaxed or poor electrical systems
More than 40,000 electrical fires occur each year in the United States. And most of them could have been easily avoided. Some warning signs of faulty electrical work include circuit breakers blowing unexpectedly, lights flickering, and outlets and/or switches being warm or hot to the touch. Not calling an electrician can result in your home catching fire. Got it? Call the electrician.
9. Clogged gutters
Clogged gutters are easy to ignore, but they can cause substantial damage to your home if you don’t make it your business to keep them clean.
The role of gutters and drainpipes is to draw rainfall away from the home. If they’re stopped up, water begins to pool in vulnerable areas. You’ll face a higher risk for wood rot around the fascia and for foundation damage in low, sloped areas around the perimeter of your home.
Homeowners should clean out their gutters twice a year and water test them with a garden hose afterward. Make sure the water travels easily through the gutter system, into the drainpipe, and away from the home’s foundation.
10. Cracked driveways
Most driveways are pitched to direct water away from your foundation. If there are cracks and settling in your driveway, not only are they a tripping hazard, they could also lead to possible water damage in your home.
11. Damaged decks
The No. 1 danger spot with decks is when there’s worn or missing flashing, the thin layer of material that keeps water from getting into places it doesn’t belong. Without flashing, water can get into the ledger board (which connects the deck to the house) and weaken the wood and metal fasteners that hold the deck together. And if a weakened deck is overloaded, it can have expensive—if not deadly—consequences.
12. Clogged dryer vents
Removing the lint from your dryer vent isn’t just one of those things your mama nagged you to do. It could mean the difference between life and death.
“It’s not a big project by any means,” says Aaron Rovner, vice president of business development at ServiceWhale in Trevose, PA. “But if you allow lint and other fabric to sit in a dryer vent, it will ultimately cause an airflow and exhaust backup that will turn into a major fire hazard.”
So you have your work cut out for you. The good news is that you don’t have to do many of these repairs frequently. But when you see warning signs, get going pronto—or risk bigger problems down the road.
According to Bankrate’s latest Financial Security Index Poll, Americans who have money to set aside for the next 10 years would rather invest in real estate than any other type of investment.
Bankrate asked Americans to answer the following question:
“What is the best way to invest money you wouldn’t need for 10 years or more?”
Real Estate came in as the top choice with 28% of all respondents (3% higher than last year), while cash investments – such as savings accounts and CD’s – came in second with 23% (the same as last year). The chart below shows the full results:
The article points out several reasons for these results:
“After bottoming out at the end of 2011 following the worst housing collapse in generations, home prices have gone gangbusters recently, climbing back above their record pre-crisis levels. Prices jumped 6.6 percent during the 12 months that ended in May, according to CoreLogic.
Toss in persistently low interest rates, tax goodies that come with owning a mortgage, and the psychological payoff from planting your roots, and maybe it’s no wonder real estate remains popular.”
The article also revealed that:
“Bankrate’s Financial Security Index — based on survey questions about how people feel about their debt, savings, net worth, job security and overall financial situation — has hit its third-highest level since the poll’s inception in December 2010.”
We have often written about the financial and non-financial reasons homeownership makes sense. It is nice to see that Americans still believe in homeownership as the best investment.
We at The KCM Crew believe every family should feel confident when buying & selling a home. KCM helps real estate professionals reach these families & enables the agent to simply & effectively explain a complex housing market. Take a 14-Day Free Trial of our monthly membership to see how we can help you!
How much does it cost to turn a house into a home? About $5,000 on top of the purchase price, according to a study distributed Monday by the National Bureau of Economic Research, a Cambridge, Mass.-based research group.
Buying a house triggered that much on average in spending on home renovations and durable home goods such as kitchen appliances, according to research by economists Efraim Benmelech, Adam Guren and Brian Melzer.
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Home buyers embarked on the wave of spending even after buying a house that was newly constructed, suggesting that it was driven in part by a new owner’s desire to tailor his or her new house to their tastes, said study co-author Ephraim Benmelech, director of the Guthrie Center for Real Estate Research at Northwestern University’s Kellogg School of Management.
The study analyzed spending by 70,000 households from 2001 to 2013 and building permits for nine million properties. (Such spending flagged significantly during the housing crisis, helping to fuel the Great Recession, the researchers found.)
“People may move into a house with all new appliances but may not like how they fit with the décor, so they’ll replace them,” Benmelech told MarketWatch. “Factor in the fact you might be moving to a new house, but there’s a good chance you may not like what’s in the house and you may end up changing it.”
Home buyers increased their spending on home-related expenses starting three months before the home purchase and for a year afterward, with spending peaking during the month right after home purchase, according to the study. The $5,000 is the figure for primary residences; the average amount of spending is $3,700 when second homes and investment properties are included.
Younger home buyers (35 and under) and lower-income buyers (households making below a median household income of $57,000 for a family of 2.63) tended to spend more on home-related costs than older, wealthier households, the study found. That could be because younger, less wealthy home buyers bought houses that needed more work, Benmelech said.
A recent discussion on Reddit highlighted some of the often unexpected expenses homeowners encounter after they move in.
“I’ve successfully budgeted moves to new places as a renter, but moving to a new house that I own has been an endeavor that has completely blown my budget in a truly epic way,” wrote a Reddit poster who recently moved into an older (1920), but renovated house considered to be “move-in ready.”
The poster said he or she ended up paying for a slew of surprise costs, including a plumber to investigate leaks and an engineer to look at a “scary crack” on a detached garage.
Unexpected expenses like those are one reason another Reddit commenter said he was glad he set aside some cash that he originally thought would be part of his down payment. He ended up with a bigger mortgage, but had cash at the ready to pay for leaky windows and roof repairs. “Without that extra dough we had on hand we’d have had to go pretty seriously into debt to cover those repairs,” the commenter said.