Homes are complicated structures and keeping up with all the tasks it takes to maintain one can seem impossible. The to-do list never ends. It includes everything at some point—from the attic to the curb. What you don’t want are costly and dangerous surprises. It’s a fact preventive home maintenance protects you from catastrophes like fires, floods and other damages. Fixing things before they break down is also far more cost effective than trying to salvage them after they break. Overall, the more you take care of your home, the less you will spend in the long run and the more it will hold its value.

There is no single strategy for planning and organizing the maintenance of your home since every home and homeowner is unique. But there are a variety of methods for making sure your preventive maintenance gets done, before it turns into damage control. Find a plan that fits your lifestyle and at the least keeps you focused on the main priorities for your home’s health—from paint touch ups to foundation issues.

Plan to budget around 1% of your home’s total value each year to take care of your home. Follow some kind of home maintenance schedule or checklist—whether you do the work yourself, hire a professional home maintenance service or choose to purchase a home warranty. Whatever you do, keep a record of all your home improvements and repairs. Those records and documents help justify the value of your home when you sell. They also help you plan your ongoing home maintenance.

  1. Create a Home Maintenance Checklist

Whether you hire a handyman or do-it-yourself, the most basic way to track your to-do tasks is to make a list. Go through your home top to bottom, noting what needs to be done—especially the immediate priorities. Don’t try to list every single maintenance issue, since you’ll never get them all done at once. Accomplish the main ones, like fixing broken pipes and replacing filters. Then update your list every few months. Whether your checklist is written on a notepad or typed into a spreadsheet, you can always keep evolving and refining it into an optimal routine.

  1. Invest in Home Maintenance Software

Quality home maintenance software is beneficial for homeowners and property managers who want better control of their properties. Software tracks the details of your home and its inventory—including manufacturer, model, serial number, warranty, inspection and repair history and any other information. It will schedule and remind you when it’s time for maintenance, while allowing you to revise or customize your scheduled plan to fit your circumstances.Many software companies let you experiment with a trial before buying. The Pro Home Manager software even includes the option of having one of their experts visit your home to evaluate your property and set up your computer maintenance schedule.

  1. Hire a Home Maintenance Service

A home maintenance service specializes in analyzing your property and designing a service plan and schedule—for everything from structural to mechanical/electrical and appliances to utilities. Some services perform analysis and scheduling only—leaving the labor to your discretion. Other home maintenance services perform all the recommended work, as well.The cost of a home maintenance service is usually a few thousand dollars a year. A good service can save you money in the long run with wise preventive maintenance, while alleviating you of hiring contractors. But be certain to choose a reputable company. Check the background, experience and training of the personnel. Look for promises of satisfaction guaranteed and evidence of liability insurance.

  1. Purchase a Homeowners Warranty

Homeowner warranties are becoming more common. For an annual fee of a few hundred dollars, a home warranty will cover the costs of repairs or replacement to basic home systems, such as plumbing and heating, as well major appliances.Many homeowners prefer the convenience of a warranty, since the warranty company arranges all repair services. But the warranty arrangement can leave homeowners with less control of how home maintenance is handled. It is also not a replacement for all the little improvements, like adding weather stripping or checking faucets for leaks.Home warranties can make sense for older homes where systems and appliances are aging, but warranties are often limited in the range of things they cover and are not always well regulated. Use it where it is appropriate.

Pick a Home Maintenance Plan for You

Every home and homeowner is different. But every home and homeowner will benefit from some kind of consistent home maintenance plan. Choose a strategy you feel comfortable with.Once in place, having a system to protect you or remind you what needs checking season-to-season actually saves you time, money and grief. Instead of trying to juggle the hundreds of possible home tasks in your head—from leaks in the attic to a backed up septic tank—you will know what needs attention when. You can relax knowing your home is safer and its value preserved.

QUICK TIPS

• The to-do list of a home never ends, which is why it pays to have a strategy to organize your home maintenance.

• It’s a fact preventive home maintenance protects you from catastrophes like fires, floods and other damages.

• The more you take care of your home, the less you will spend in the long run and the more it will hold its value.

• Find a home maintenance strategy that fits your lifestyle and at the least keeps you focused on the main priorities.

• Follow some type of home maintenance schedule or checklist—whether you do the work yourself, hire a professional service or purchase a home warranty.

• Keep a record of all your home improvements and repairs.

• Accomplish your main maintenance priorities and then you can always expand and update your checklist every few months.

• Quality home maintenance software is beneficial for both homeowners and property managers.

• Home maintenance software will schedule and remind you when it’s time for maintenance updates.

• A home maintenance service specializes in analyzing your property and designing a service plan and schedule.

• For an annual fee of a few hundred dollars, a home warranty will cover the costs of repairs or replacement to basic home systems.