Is your home a ticking bomb?

build the house wording written on houseMost car owners would ensure their vehicle was well-maintained and had an up-to-date MOT, but how many home owners routinely check their houses for maintenance issues?  Routine maintenance is just as important in the home, and making regular checks can prevent your home from being a ticking bomb and keep things under control – while ensuring that you stay protected by your home insurance.

A survey by Opinion Research revealed that:

  • 75% of home owners have had maintenance issues;
  • 50% admitted that they didn’t have the knowledge or skill to do the work themselves;
  • 31% had put off essential repairs, including problems with windows, gutters, drainpipes and out-of-date electrics;
  • 20% were concerned about repair problems being a ‘ticking bomb’.

Prevention is almost always cheaper than cure, so here are some simple, regular checks you can make that can save you money and keep any issues from turning into big repair bills.

Walls - Check for faulty brickwork and render, and anything leaning against exterior walls which might lead to damp problems.

Roofs - Look out for loose tiles or slates.  In the survey, over ten percent said their pitched roof had leaked or had broken or missing tiles, and a fifth of those reporting problems were owners of older property.  This is likely to be a professional fix if you have problems.

Drains and Gutters - Check drains and clear out gutters once the autumn leaves have fallen so that they are clear before winter sets in.  A fifth of survey respondents said that broken or blocked drains had become an issue in their present home, most of them living in older property.

Insulation - Check that your loft is fully insulated and that the material has not become damaged by leaks or pests.  The government still issues grants to eligible homeowners, so check whether you are eligible.

Windows - Check that the seals on double glazing haven’t failed – it will be fairly obvious if water has got in between the panes.  A fifth of homeowners said their double glazing had been a problem.  A window specialist may be able to fix the problem without having to replace the window.

Boilers - Get a qualified heating engineer to check your system annually to help prevent any problems.  A fifth of homeowners had experienced problems with out-of-date gas fittings or heating systems.

Fences - Wooden fence posts are likely to rot at ground level, but they can be maintained regularly, and posts can be replaced before the problem becomes too large.  One in seven homeowners had experienced problems with boundary walls or fences, and most problems were weather-related. Winter is a good time to do this, when plant-growth is at rest.

Fires - Ideally, chimneys should be swept at least once a year to prevent chimney fires and smoke damage.  Before lighting, make sure your chimney hasn’t become blocked by nesting birds over the summer and ensure you have a working carbon monoxide alarm nearby.

Water problems - Issues such as mould and condensation can be avoided by ensuring that rooms are regularly aired.  If you have to dry washing indoors, leave a window open and ensure that the room is heated.  Grouting and bathroom sealants should be checked regularly and repaired before water damage can occur.

And finally … Keep records of dates, and all supplier receipts and guarantees – so you know where to find them in an emergency.  Keep a flashlight and small contingency fund available, just in case.

Download our Property Maintenance Checklist.

For professional property advice on maintenance and other property issues from Independent Chartered Surveyors, contact

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