Throughout our lives, we spend significant time thinking about where we want to live, dreaming about what type of house we would like to own and imagining how we would furnish it. But many of us don’t focus on how much work and money it will require to maintain a home once we finally have one.
Financial and real estate experts advise homeowners to expect maintenance costs to run between 1 and 4 percent of a home’s value each year. The cost of home repairs covers tasks such as lawn care, roof replacements, basic appliance repair and even paint and floor-covering maintenance. And although home repairs can be unexpected, you can mitigate some unpleasant surprises by staying organized and current with routine maintenance.
As with any home organization project, there are different ways to approach keeping track of maintenance and improvement projects. Don’t deliberate for too long about which option is best; choose one that will work for you and get started.
Low-tech options include creating files or a binder where you keep all of your home-maintenance receipts in chronological order or by category. Categories may include outdoor maintenance, appliances, HVAC, furniture and floor coverings. Create files with names that make sense to you and be sure to put all relevant paperwork, including warranty information, from repairs and purchases inside. This way, you’ll be able to reference documents to see the date, cost and vendor for all of your repairs.
If you don’t want to pull out files each time you need to find a record, you can also keep track of repairs by creating a Word document or Excel spreadsheet that you update each time an appliance gets serviced or something is replaced.
There are several websites that provide online checklists for home-maintenance projects. These are especially helpful for those of us with little knowledge about all the details we should be checking as a homeowner and on what schedule.
We always think we’ll remember when the dishwasher was last broken or when we installed that new water heater, but then never have a clue when we actually need to know. Make sure you update your records regularly to keep the information current. One advantage of spreadsheet tracking is that you can sort by date and, with a quick glance, look at what maintenance is coming due. If you have any maintenance plans, such as an annual HVAC plan or quarterly pest-control visits, be sure to include those approximate dates in your tracker.
Black and Decker’s “Home Planner and Logbook” provides a ready-made template for keeping all types of information related to your home. The book has room to record all of your maintenance information, as well as tips for managing almost every detail in your house.
If you prefer to track maintenance projects electronically, reminders apps and calendars on your phone or computer work well and can be especially helpful for things that require regular maintenance, such as changing the filters for your HVAC system and switching out water-purifying cartridges for your sink or refrigerator. To stay on schedule, buy enough cartridges and filters for at least one year so you don’t have to go to the store each time you get a reminder. And while you’re at it, keep a regular stock of the most common lightbulbs in your home.
Not surprisingly, there are also several apps that can help you track home-maintenance jobs and expenses. HomeZada allows you to personalize your home-maintenance schedule and keep track of documents and costs for repairs. Evernote lets you create and organize your maintenance routines, download manuals for your products and send yourself reminders.
Keeping track of home-maintenance projects requires attention to details that many of us would rather ignore. But it’s important to maintain accurate records to ensure that you’re caring for your investment properly and so that you’re not wasting money along the way. If you sell your home one day, you will also have a convenient and up-to-date record of major maintenance projects, such as a roof or appliance replacement, that can be a big selling point to buyers.
Anzia is a freelance writer and the owner of Neatnik. She can be reached at firstname.lastname@example.org.