It goes without saying that when it comes to your investment journey, there are quite a few moving parts you need to keep track of. Finding an investment-grade property, getting a loan, and filling it with good quality tenants might seem like the long and short of it. But if you’re going to have any chance of nursing a healthy investment you can’t lose sight of the little things.
We’re talking about annual home maintenance!
No matter how well your property might start out or how clean and tidy your tenants might be, sooner or later it’s going to need some sort of servicing.
It could be an air conditioner acting up, a tap that’s on the fritz, or the first ominous signs of a crack in the wall. You can’t just sweep these things under the rug and expect to come out of it unscathed – AKA, having to pay some big bills in the future!
Taking the time to perform routine annual home maintenance can help you save big in the long run by nipping those minor repairs in the bud before they snowball into a bunch of more severe, more costly problems.
Having a property manager that conducts regular inspections is a great way to go about it.
In this article we’ve broken down some of the most important house maintenance tasks you’ll want to keep on top of annually, so you can stay in the financial green!
There’s no getting around the laws of physics. If your property is like one of the many buildings in Australia where it’s sitting atop a bed of soil – in time that soil is going to compress and wreak havoc on your building’s foundations.
It might start out small with a simple crack in the wall, a jammed door, or a bouncy floor. But don’t be fooled, these minor inconveniences can be the tell-tale signs that your property is on the brink of some major structural issues.
When this happens it’s high time you get in a structural engineer who can give you an impartial report on what foundation issues you’re dealing with. (If you make a repair expert your first stop, there’s always a chance they may try to overquote you on solutions you don’t actually need).
A word to the wise: if you dilly dally and don’t stay on top of foundation maintenance, you could be shooting yourself in the foot. Take a house with a wall that has bowed less than 2 inches. If you get on it right away, you’ll only be looking at paying around $5000. If you put it off and the wall moves more than 2 inches, you could be looking at $15000!
Foundation maintenance methods
While solutions will differ between properties, the two most common foundation repairs are:
- Piering: Digging into the earth, below the existing foundation, and inserting hydraulic lifts (piers) to elevate the foundation into the correct position. Generally considered a permanent solution.
- Slabjacking: Injecting a grout mix under the existing foundation to form a slab which forces the foundation to rise back up into the correct position. May not be viable if there’s been changes to the surrounding earth.
Foundation maintenance costs
It’s impossible to throw out an accurate figure for how much foundation maintenance will set you back, since there are many variables that affect the cost. But here are some ballpark numbers:
When it comes to weather, you can’t deny that Australia is a pretty temperamental place. Every year we get a double serving of extremes: freezing winters and sweltering summers. Because of this, your heating, ventilation and air conditioning (HVAC) sure has its work cut out for it. Which is why it's essential that you don’t skimp on its annual maintenance!
Clogged filters, broken ducts, faulty heater ignition, general wear and tear. These are just a few issues you might expect to rundown your HVAC over the course of a year.
HVAC maintenance benefits
Incorporating an annual round of HVAC maintenance is well worth it when you look at the benefits:
- Cheaper utility bills: It’s simple math, the more efficient your HVAC unit is (clean filters etc.), the less money you’ll have to spend on your electricity bill from running your heating and cooling overtime, trying to make up for its sub-par performance.
- Longer lifespan: The better you maintain your HVAC system and keep it in pristine shape, the better chance it has of sticking around for the years to come. You can add as much as 5-10 years onto your HVAC’s longevity! Which will save you on some hefty re-installation costs.
- Hygiene: An un-serviced, dirty HVAC unit can cause all sorts of strife in the health department. Respiratory problems caused by festering mold and bacteria isn’t anyone’s idea of a good time. A well-maintained HVAC system, on the other hand, is a surefire way to fresh air quality.
HVAC maintenance costs
Because the roof is a property’s first line of defense against the elements, it’s no surprise that over time it’s going to be hit with a fair bit of wear and tear. All that wind, rain and heat is the perfect storm for damaged roof tiles and rusted valleys.
And if you’re not a stickler for annual roof maintenance, you might just be exposing yourself to water-damaged ceilings and festering mould. Both of which can come with a steep repair bill attached.
Owners understand that cost is inevitable but when money can be saved, it should be. A mouldy ceiling should never go untreated otherwise it leads to repaints, which costs much more. But more importantly, those costs when they are poorly communicated to owners, it becomes more frustrating. - Mandy (Lead Maintenance Manager)
Roof maintenance cost
How much you can expect to fork out on annual home maintenance costs for roof repair really depends. Typically, your bill will come down to:
- Size of the roof
- Types of materials used for the repair
- Type of repair (e.g. replacing tiles or replacing mortar)
- Ease of roof access
- And other factors!
Not to mention that you can be charged by the hour or by how many square meters of roofing are required for the job.
A general breakdown of how to calculate maintenance costs might look like this:
Going to the bathroom, washing your hands, taking a shower – it’s easy to take these things for granted. But the moment the bath doesn’t heat up or the water pressure feels low, you’re going to wish you’d stuck to a yearly run of plumbing maintenance.
Not only are you protecting yourself against contaminated water, but you’re setting yourself up for success in the financial department. A well-maintained plumbing system is an efficient system, so you can pretty much count of a cheaper monthly water bill. Not to mention that preventative maintenance can save you big on having to do more major repairs down the line.
Plumbing maintenance costs
There’s no straightforward way how to calculate annual maintenance costs for your plumbing. Factors such as the type of job, where you live, the skill level of your plumber can all play a part in deciding the final cost.
- Call out fee: $60-$100
- Leaking tap/toilet: $60-$140
- Replace and fit basin tap or new shower head: $80-$250
- Replace hot water service: $1200-$4500
- Replace entire drainage system: $5000-$20000
Pest control maintenance
The thing about pests is if you happen to spot the occasional creepy crawly, then there’s probably a whole lot more you’re not seeing. Unless you’re an expert in the way of insects, rodents and the like, infestations can happen right under your nose – exactly why an annual round of pest control is so necessary!
Pests can spell disaster for your property. Termites? Say goodbye to the structural integrity of your building. Cockroaches and spiders? Say hello to some nasty diseases and some painful bites. Bed bugs, fleas, ants and flies? Needless to say, you won’t be having the time of your life with those guys either.
Opting for a yearly dose of pest control can bring the hammer down on a minor insect or rodent issue before it balloons into an all-out infestation that could cost you a great deal more to fix.
Pest control maintenance costs
Depending on things like the type of pest, whether you’ve had infestations in the past and how big your property – your pest control bill might range considerably.
But, if you’re looking for a general price guide, it might be useful to look at the average pest control costs across the major cities:
- Sydney: $80-$300
- Melbourne: $100-$400
- Brisbane: $70-$250
As an owner, your priority is always to come out on top with your bottom line in the financial green. But you may well be ruining your chances if you’re not taking care to stay on top of annual home maintenance.
So, take a bit of time and effort each year to check-in and service your foundations, HVAC, roofing, plumbing, and potential pest issues. Not only will you be saving yourself from being caught out with hefty repair bills down the line, but you’ll also be doing your part to keep happy, long-term tenants! (A simple way to maximise rental returns in itself!)
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