Doing exterior home maintenance on a regular basis is green—it’s good for the environment and your wallet.
I am a smart homeowner much of the time but have procrastinated on exterior home maintenance projects in the past, which never turned out well.
Why is Exterior Home Maintenance Good for the Environment?
A new home has a substantial carbon footprint. Materials are extracted, processed, transported, and constructed at the home site. Energy and water are used during every step of the process. Paints and other chemical compounds are used inside and out. Waste accumulates and is transported to a landfill (hopefully some is recycled).
Properly maintaining an existing home utilizes far fewer resources and creates less waste than large scale repairs or renovations needed due to neglect, or demolishing and building a new home.
“An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
— Benjamin Franklin
Why is Exterior Home Maintenance Good for Your Wallet?
Purchasing a home is the most costly investment many people will make in their lifetimes. Although we spend most of our time in the home, it is the exterior that enables us to enjoy the interior.
Home maintenance is like preventative health and car care. Nipping problems in the bud early can avoid big and costly problems later. For instance, fixing a roof leak when it first occurs can prevent water damage and expensive repairs down the road.
With the exception of house flippers and remodeling fanatics seeking fixer uppers, most people do not want to buy a poorly maintained home. Regular maintenance can eliminate pricey repairs needed later to prepare a home for sale. Serious issues uncovered during a home inspection can reduce the sale price or even derail the sale.
Exterior Home Maintenance Inspection and Projects
Inspect the exterior of your home on a regular basis and tackle maintenance projects as needed.
- Leaking roofs can lead to mold, dry rot, and damage structural components, drywall, insulation, foundations, and interior furnishings. If needed, making roof repairs should be the top priority.
- Check for water stains on ceilings and walls, and around windows and doors. Inspect plumbing vent stacks, roof vents, chimneys, skylights, dormers, and keep an eye out for holes leftover from a satellite dish or other equipment mounts. Look for broken, bent, or corroded flashing (the metal used to line joints, seams, and other transition points on a roof), and missing or broken shingles/tiles.
- Most homeowners should not be walking around on the roof of their home so save the trip to the emergency room and hire a professional.
Siding, Deck, Porch, and Railings
- Paint and sealant are important components of home weather protection.
- Siding, deck, porch and railings should be inspected for bowing, dry rot, damage, chipping, peeling, and fading paint.
Walls, Doors, and Windows
- Air leaks waste energy and money, and if caught early can often be sealed with caulking and weather-stripping.
- Check for holes and cracks in walls and around doors and windows.
- Clogged rain gutters or downspouts prevent water from running off the roof and away from the home which can damage the walls, foundation, or basement.
- Regularly clean out gutters and downspouts and make sure they are securely attached to the home.
- Tree limbs falling on a home can cause an amazing amount of damage, and plants growing on or near a home can cause moisture and insect problems.
- Keep trees and plants trimmed and away from the home.
- Termites will literally eat a home and may not be spotted by homeowners until severe damage occurs, like a porch caving in.
- Have a professional regularly check for termites and treat any infested areas.
Do-it-yourself vs. Hiring a Professional
Some projects can be easily and inexpensively done by handy do-it-yourselfers who can climb and work safely on a ladder. Information and how-to advice are available from home improvement stores, books, blogs, videos, and knowledgeable neighbors.
For the not-so-handy homeowner (like me), hire a handyman, contractor, or company specializing in say, weatherization or gutter cleaning.
Larger or more complex projects require professionals. Don’t cheap out. What’s the point of saving a few bucks now only to turn around and spend the big bucks later?
Exterior Home Maintenance for Renters
For renters, exterior home maintenance still matters. Air leaks may increase heating and cooling bills, and water leaks may result in mold and medical bills. If you notice something amiss, inform the landlord.
- American Home Inspector Directory – Home Inspection Checklist
- Guardian.co.uk – What’s the carbon footprint of building a house
- HGTV – 10 Home-Maintenance Tips for Spring
- Home Inspector Locator – Home Maintenance Guide (no longer available)
- National Home Warranty – Homeowner Maintenance Manual
- National Trust for Historic Preservation – Sustainable Communities
- The USAA Educational Foundation – SAFETY: A Guide To Home Maintenance (no longer available)
- The Weather Channel – Home Maintenance (no longer available)