Home inspection findings by Frank Schulte-Ladbeck, Professional Real Estate Inspector TREC# 9073

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How to Save Money on Home Repairs

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Is your home a place where you stay or where you live? If you do see it as an investment, do you ensure that it is increasing in value? Home repairs can be costly, but they can prevent future damage, and further expenses.

I read comment on another blog criticizing people for not being concerned with maintaining what they have. My first thought was to agree. Often during my home inspections I see problems that could easily be resolved, but then I have to stop myself. When I look at my neighbors, they are working on their homes. However, they do not know that something may be an issue, or they have decided to deal with an issue later. If we do think of our homes as the place where we live, then we do our best to maintain. The problem becomes the fact that we do not always analyze our homes to find an issue, or we do not understand that something that we are seeing is an issue. Yet there is another factor that plays into home repairs: the cost. There are some repairmen where I could be paying them $150 for their labor, and the parts may only cost $15or maybe the parts could be $1500. We may not want do a repair, because we are worried about the expense.
    The first step to saving money is being a smart shopper. You may realize that grocery stores place the higher priced items at eye level, and the cheaper items will be either quite high in the shelves, or low in the shelves. I could easily be spending $2000 on a sliding glass or French door for my patio. That is if I walked into the store, and purchased one of those beautiful units on display. If I walk further back along the aisle, I might notice that I could buy a decent unit for $300 to $400. The sliding glass door will have white vinyl covering the aluminum, and the French door would have bare wood for me to paint or stain. I do not mind painting. In fact, installing the door is not so hard, since it will fit into my existing space without modification. I took good measurements before going to the store.So I have come down from $2000 to say $350, and I am going to save on labor costs. My thinking leads me to the idea that I could buy a replacement glass for my current door. I discover that it would be $200. Not good. The new door is better. Yet if I keep looking in the back of the door section, I find that I can purchase a new panel to fit into my sliding door frame that would cost $150. Why a piece of glass costs more than the glass in the frame is beyond me. My point is that you have to be careful and look around when shopping. (Quick aside: if a store has an item selling for much cheaper than comparable goods, then it may be a discontinued item. This means that if you buy tile at a real cheap price, you will not be able to find that tile later when a piece breaks).
    The second step is to take care of one problem before the issue becomes bigger. Soon I will be going over to my brother’s house to fix a leaking toilet. I was there last weekend, and I saw water at the base. The wax seal is under $10. The job involves turning off the water; disconnecting the water line; and loosening two nuts to lift up the toilet. If this is not fixed, the water will seep under the tile, causing damage to the tile, wall, and cabinets. The leak might not seem like much, but it can lead to bigger things. The situation here is that we see the damage; we know it is damage; but we do not make the time to fix it. More damage ensues, then we have to spend more on repairs. Another example along these lines is this scenario: my neighbor has taken down his fascia boards to be replaced with new ones. He has not put the new boards into place for well over a month . I wonder what kind of damage has been done by rodents or other creatures in the attic. How much damage has been done to the framing by exposure to the weather.  The lesson is do not start a project unless you can complete the job.
    The third step is prevention. I think for most homeowners the roof may be the best example. You do not have a roof leak. The roof is supposed to last fifteen years, and it was put on sixteen years ago. Most of us will dig into our pockets for purchasing a new roof. We are preventing leaks from happening, which may cause further problems. We can prevent spending more on our utility bills if we purchase new appliances when our old ones are more than ten years old. But we could clean and maintain our appliances, and we may find that they are working fine. I see signs of possible future damage that could be prevented. I had a pergola added over my back porch. The contractor did a nice job, but I saw him do what many of these workers do: they build the item that I want without considering ways to stop future damage. In this case, the roof will drop the rain onto the support framing. Over time, the wood will rot. I spent $10 on a metal channel to catch the water, and move it to the sides of my framing.  Another favorite of mine is water from an upper roof being focused on a lower roof’s shingles, because of the gutter design. The shingles deteriorate faster. A simple gutter channel will make the roof last longer.
    I believe that most homeowners desire to maintain their homes. We just do not know how. If you are reading through the maintenance sections of this blog, then you will be getting an idea. I think that the biggest problem is not laziness, but the lack of organization. We do not find the time. Protect your biggest financial purchase by finding the time to fix it is the best advice that I could give.

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© Frank Schulte-Ladbeck Professional Home Inspector Houston, Texas
Frank Theodor Schulte-Ladbeck
home inspector, TREC# 9073
Houston , Texas , 77063 United States

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