April 19, 2024


Home maintenance fear? Here’s how to keep repair costs down with regular upkeep

Juli Adelman of Northeast Portland should be feeling confident about homeownership by now. Since remodeling a fixer-upper 16 years ago, she’s sold each of her past three properties at a profit, moving her up the real estate ladder.

A year ago, she purchased a century-old house in her goal neighborhood: Beaumont-Wilshire. Despite her time-tested DIY repair skills and her contractor father’s assurance she wasn’t buying a money pit, Adelman still feels nervous.

She wonders: What costly mystery may be ahead?

“It’s a totally sound investment and I’ve been pretty lucky at this so far,” she said, “but it’s still kind of a gamble. What if the sewer goes sideways?”

She’s not alone in having home repair fear.

A survey by the Seattle-based real estate marketplace Zillow found 75% of pandemic-era home buyers, who battled record-low inventory, rapidly escalating prices and brutal bidding wars, wish they had done things differently.

Many of those surveyed discovered that one of life’s biggest financial investments, their home, needs more work or maintenance than they anticipated. In a panic to have an offer accepted, some buyers agreed to not ask the seller to make repairs.

Unchecked repairs, however, can become a major drain on savings or even create the need to take on another loan, said Andrew Emerson, vice president of mortgage at OnPoint Community Credit Union.

“Denial isn’t bliss,” he said, adding that preventive maintenance is a way to reduce unnecessary expenses. “You get the most bang for your buck by taking care of your home.”

Repairs and major renovations can put pressure on home finances, especially if budgets are already stretched to pay for a larger mortgage along with rising property taxes, home insurance premiums, homeowner association fees and utility bills.

Skyrocketing inflation and spiking labor and building material costs for even small repairs can quickly change a functioning budget into a sinking one.

But simple fixes can sometimes keep big and small components of a home operating efficiently, extending their usefulness, often without bringing in a professional, said Carol Eisenlohr, who leads the Building Toward Better program for members of the Home Builders Association of Metropolitan Portland.

She knows that few people enjoy vacuuming refrigerator coils to keep air flowing, but everyone wants kitchen appliances to be humming along when company’s coming.

“Things that aren’t working properly cause more damage, devalue the home over time and drive us crazy,” said Eisenlohr. “A little maintenance can make them last a lot longer.”

Saving money is the big incentive, she said. Replacing clogged furnace filters keeps motors running with less effort, cuts monthly electric bills and lengthens the time before replacements are needed.

But there are safety benefits, too. Stopping water leaks prevents mold. And a smart fix early on can put the brakes on a budget-busting disaster like a clogged drain flooding new carpet.

Divvying up routine maintenance duties over time and involving the entire household can make chores less of a pain, said Eisenlohr.

Money saved by reducing preventable repairs can be used to take everyone out for pizza or buy some other treat, she said.

“I get joy out of not having to rely on a technician to fix something that I can take care of any time,” said Eisenlohr.

She often finds solutions, like replacing a belt on her washing machine, by watching YouTube videos. “It’s empowering,” she said. “Changing out the fill valve in the toilet is very simple.”

Juli Adelman of Northeast Portland does a lot of her own home maintenance and improvements.

Juli Adelman of Northeast Portland does a lot of her own home maintenance and improvements.Juli Adelman

Portland homeowner Juli Adelman is teaching her twin teenage sons the rewards of tackling home improvement and maintenance projects.

“I really am proud to own my home and want to take good care of it,” said Adelman, who was encouraged by her father to develop mechanical skills and fix things around the house. “I respond right away when I see something wrong and I am not afraid to ask for help when I need it.”

She and her then-husband bought their first home in 2006. The distressed property on Portland’s Northeast Alberta Street had mushrooms growing on interior walls. No down payment was required and equity grew as the market improved and their hard work paid off.

They parlayed that property into a nicer house in the nearby Beaumont-Wilshire neighborhood.

After a divorce, she bought a more affordable house on her own farther east, which she enhanced and then sold for more than she paid for it. In January 2021, she was able to “catapult,” she said, back to Beaumont into a Craftsman-style house.

“I always admired how my parents took care of their home and yard, and I want to instill that in my boys, so that’s what keeps me motivated,” she said. “Plus I like learning new things. Two weeks ago I re-caulked my shower by myself and it looks awesome.”

Adelman and her sons work together outside, too, moving the push reel mower, raking, pulling weeds and pruning to fill up the yard debris bin.

“Sometimes one boy has to jump on the yard debris to compact the leaves or clippings to make room for more,” she said. “Making sure the bin is full each week ensures us that we are staying up on the yard as we’re working together as a family.”

Over Eisenlohr’s 25-year career in the building industry, she has helped homebuyers troubleshoot issues under warranty. Her advice: Read the frequently asked questions about the product on the manufacturer’s website or in the user manual.

A furnace could stop working because the door is ajar or an air conditioning unit can freeze up by a clogged filter not letting air flow to the coils.

If you can’t fix it, you can at least explain the problem better to the repair service and make decisions to keep the damage from getting worse, Eisenlohr said.

“Your learning curve will improve over time,” she said, “and you will know your home better.”

Peace of mind comes from doing simple repairs, she said, adding, “By being proactive, you can’t avoid everything, but you can prevent a lot of things.”

Homes don’t like to be ignored. Rust, odd sounds, musty smell, pests or discolored spots signal a problem. Don’t wait until a part breaks or is damaged beyond repair.

For expert advice, Portland-area contractors participating in the Home Builders Association’s 2022 Tour of Remodeled Homes May 21-22 will explain the advantages of using resilient, weather-friendly products.

Visitors walking through five remodeled homes can hear about composite siding and newer paint products that last longer, scratch- and water-resistant flooring like luxury vinyl planks, and energy efficient upgrades.

Electrical and plumbing inspections require a professional, but a lot of maintenance work — like cleaning leaves out of gutters and downspouts to ensure proper drainage from the roof and foundation, and caulking air leaks around windows and door — is not costly if you do it yourself.

Here is a starter list of home maintenance duties that can be performed over time that won’t rob you of weekend leisure time.

Most basic home maintenance tasks can be handled with an Allen wrench, a box cutter, five-in-one painter’s tool, adjustable wrench, pliers, tape measure, screw driver set, hammer and power drill.

“The life of your home depends on making sure it’s constructed properly to keep moisture and weather out,” said the Home Builders Association’s Eisenlohr, who wrote a downloadable home maintenance checklist for Oregon home builder Legend Homes that includes these tips.


  • Keep sink, bathtub, shower, toilet, washing machine, dishwasher and refrigerator drains clear and inspect valves and pipes for leaks that can cause mold, wood rot and other damage, and increase your water bill.
  • Condensation on windows and other signs of excessive moisture levels can cause damage over time and pose serious health problems. Use an air conditioner with a clean filter or a dehumidifier to help keep air dry in basements and damp spaces.

Air quality

  • Open windows when weather permits and turn on exhaust fans at other times to remove indoor pollutants.
  • Remove dust to improve air flow from heating registers, dryer vents and kitchen and bathroom exhaust filters. Vacuum inside the ducts of forced air systems.
  • Clean or replace air filters every three months or more often if it’s smoky outside.
  • Clear spiderwebs and dust from carbon monoxide and smoke detectors and security alarms, and replace batteries if needed. “I’ve seen people take the smoke detector down rather than put a battery in it,” said Eisenlohr. “People put maintenance off and don’t feel it’s important, but that could be a bad choice.”


  • Inspect weatherstripping around doors and windows for proper seal and make sure doors to the outside shut tightly. Caulking helps keep warm air inside during winter and cool air during summer.
  • Remove mud and dirt from the siding and check for holes and breakage. Repair siding and masonry surfaces as soon as possible.
  • Inspect exterior siding and trim for peeling or flaking paint. “Paint protects the siding and caulking plugs gaps that could allow water into the wall,” said Eisenlohr.
  • The south and west sides of your home may need more paint care, while the north side might need to be cleared of moss growth.
  • Inspect your roof for problems that lead to leaks and possible dry rot and structural damage from water. Secure any loose shingles or siding. Treat pests that can cause roof damage.
  • Examine the foundation walls for cracks, leaks or signs of moisture. Cracks in the foundation or masonry are normal, but changes in the size of the cracks might indicate a more extensive problem.

— Janet Eastman | 503-294-4072

[email protected] | @janeteastman

• Spiking costs aren’t slowing home improvements: ‘Owners are committed to investing,’ Houzz survey finds

• Portland area’s housing market frustrated buyers with skyrocketing prices, few options

The top spring property upkeep checklist for a risk-free and nutritious house | Herald Neighborhood Newspapers

(BPT) - Spring is the season of renewal and the best time to make a household advancement and routine maintenance checklist so you are prepared for the months in advance.

Irrespective of whether you’re settling into a new dwelling that needs some operate or enhancing your present-day a single, below are some guidelines to assistance you get a head begin on your residence upkeep plan, courtesy of the wise home protection specialists at SimpliSafe:

Clear the gutters

They may possibly not be the most glamorous part of a dwelling, but they do an vital perform. It really is essential to take time to cleanse leaves and debris out of the gutters and downspouts to ensure good drainage. Reattach gutters that are loose and make sure downspouts are facing away from the household to avert drinking water from detrimental the home’s foundation. As an additional safeguard, take into consideration outfitting your basement with wise drinking water sensors so you are going to be notified in advance of spring thawing turns into pricey leaks and drinking water injury.

Exam the air conditioning

Make sure your air conditioning units are in working purchase right before the summer warmth comes by cleansing the units and their filters of any accrued dust. When filters are clogged, air can not conveniently move by way of the unit, meaning it’ll have to perform harder to amazing your home, and in switch, enhance your utility expenditures. A bit of additional work cleansing the device will be certain a easy-managing procedure and decrease cooling costs.

Trim bushes and overgrowth

Tidying the landscape all around your residence not only assists elevate the look of your house but can also do away with unnecessary put on. Shrubs, bushes, and trees in whole bloom can typically rub against your home’s home windows and siding, most likely damaging window glass or exterior paint. Prior to having shears to every single department, be absolutely sure to check with your regional gardening centre for trimming tips to maintain your property and greenery wholesome for several years to appear.

Upgrade your home protection

You have accomplished a number of duties to preserve your home from damage, but to definitely safeguard your home, you need to have a dwelling security program. More than just deterring burglars, a property stability procedure will help guard your relatives in the circumstance of fires, professional medical emergencies, drinking water damage and a lot more. It can also insert a feeling of consolation through the summer months months when you are far more probably to travel, having the panic out of leaving your household unattended.

Study household stability companies

Providers like SimpliSafe present extensive, award-profitable, straightforward-to-use items that can guard your house within and out, with window and doorway sensors, smoke detectors, good locks, cameras, online video doorbells and a lot more. You can build your very own procedure or pick out from a range of pre-curated offers, such as The Essentials and The Haven. Setting up the program won’t choose you extensive, and if you are relocating someplace new, you can convey your program with you and broaden on it as needed. And if something does go awry, SimpliSafe’s team of finest-in-course checking industry experts have your home and liked kinds looked following.

Maintain outdoor wood surfaces

Wood is a amazing all-natural materials utilized commonly in outside areas like patios and pergolas, but it demands appropriate repairs to sustain its visual appeal and power. Examine your deck, stairways and other areas built from wooden for hazards like warped boards and free nails so you can make repairs. Wood furniture may perhaps also need a refreshing coat of stain or paint to take care of any chips or fading, help safeguard the wooden, prevent splinters, and strengthen your home's aesthetic appeal.

Take a look at the roof

No subject exactly where you stay, the wintertime months and weather conditions can trigger tension on your roof. Wander close to your residence and look for lacking shingles or damage.

(functionality(d, s, id) var js, fjs = d.getElementsByTagName(s)[0] if (d.getElementById(id)) return js = d.createElement(s) js.id = id js.src = "//connect.fb.internet/en_US/sdk.js#xfbml=1&edition=v2.9&appId=1381377748574854" fjs.parentNode.insertBefore(js, fjs) (document, 'script', 'facebook-jssdk'))

Building residence upkeep inexpensive, accessible | Bakersfield Lifestyle

Your property is more than your castle.

If you are like most individuals, it is also your most significant expense.

Keeping up the value of that financial commitment is one of the explanations why home servicing in one’s castle is so crucial. Of course, it’ll also make improvements to your excellent of lifetime in your household.

How perfectly your air conditioning cools on a scorching summer season working day or your potential to use your hearth when it’s chilly outside the house are impacted by how usually you change the filters or have your chimney swept.

Excellent house maintenance can act to lessen allergens, protect against ailment and lessen personal injury from incidents, according to the technological advisers for the Countrywide Middle for Healthy Housing.

From the ground to ceiling, dwelling improvement charges can insert up — but they can increase significantly far more highly-priced if tasks are not taken care of routinely.

“A good HVAC, if you’re maintaining that technique, can last for a pair of decades,” claimed Lee’o Whisenant of Old Ironsides Design.

He suggested changing the filter as often as at the time a month for ideal efficiency. Filters can price tag fewer than $10.

Which is since if it breaks down, the price tag of a new HVAC technique is estimated to be $5,000 to $6,000 for a 1,200-square-foot space, according to an estimator at Forbes.com. That charge rises to an estimated $7,000 to $8,000 for about 2,000 sq. toes.

Performing it yourself

The excellent news is most house routine maintenance can be carried out by the house owner, specifically with all the methods accessible on the net.

“There’s quite couple points that folks just cannot do on their have, mainly because all the facts is there on-line,” stated Husein Shakir, owner of the Do-it-yourself Depot in Bakersfield.

Shakir explained he knows this is doable for the reason that the company proprietor taught himself a excellent deal employing tutorial video clips on YouTube.

“I don’t want to say that anything can be completed by you, but most points can,” Shakir explained, noting that everything that consists of wiring or considerable plumbing function must be finished by a skilled.

Shops like Do it yourself Depot or Residence Depot typically have most of the materials a person would require for most property upkeep, as nicely as people who can supply information on how to get started out.

And even some renovation positions can be done on a do-it-yourself basis. James McKay offers advice on such projects in a website on the web page for his organization, Modern day Valley Design, which gives ideas on the very best approaches to do much easier, much more aesthetic upkeep tasks these types of as painting, wallpapering and changing mild fixtures.

As considerably as how usually specific servicing should really be undertaken, the federal Division of Housing and City Progress has a seasonal checklist at bit.ly/DIYmaintenancechecklist.

The list features tips on how typically to accomplish routine maintenance these types of as checking dishwasher hoses for leaks or cleansing and checking the refrigerator’s drip pan-icemaker connections (yearly) and when to check the batteries on the smoke and carbon dioxide alarms (in the spring and fall).

Making points much easier

Tim Hardt of Hardt Design Products and services presented a bit of advice to make the prolonged listing of needed yearly upkeep a minor much less complicated: “Keep a running to-do checklist of your house that demands interest,” he explained. “Based on price tag and the severity of the problem, select a person or two objects to tackle every single thirty day period.”

No issue how useful you may be although, some people today just never have the time to carry out all the maintenance that is essential to preserve the benefit of a residence.

But there are services that can help.

Hardt’s organization gives a regular monthly and an yearly upkeep services, which can be begun with a consultation that involves a handyman going for walks through the house and pinpointing what needs to be done and how often. The cost of the assistance is dependent on the age of the property, as well as its dimensions, and other likely concerns.

“We usually see household and commercial homes where clients have not stored up on the ordinary upkeep,” Hardt mentioned, “and for that reason have ended up leading to more injury and it ended up costing a lot more.”