The importance of home maintenance

Benign neglect isn't an option when it comes to looking after your house. Regular maintenance and repairs are needed to keep on top of wear and tear. It's also important from an insurance perspective, as most policies don’t cover gradual damage caused by deferred maintenance.

Why maintenance is important

The longer you defer home maintenance jobs, the more likely that a small task will spiral into a large repair – and higher costs – further down the track.

It’s also important from an insurance perspective - most policies don’t cover gradual damage caused by deferred maintenance or neglect, because the damage is often avoidable. That means that damage caused by wear and tear, corrosion, rust, rot, mildew and mould are all unlikely to be covered by insurance.

How much should you be spending on maintenance?

This will depend on the age and condition of your house. If it’s a modern house that has been well-maintained you’ll spend less than if it’s an old villa with a history of poor upkeep.

Ian Page, an economist with building research agency BRANZ esitmated that the average annual maintenance spend for a stand-alone house should be between 0.5 per cent and 2.05 per cent of the value of the house.

Page was speaking after the release of BRANZ’s last condition of housing survey, which found that 14 per cent of owner-occupied houses in New Zealand were poorly maintained, 38 per cent were reasonably maintained and 48 per cent were well maintained.

What should you be doing?

BRANZ has a handy home maintenance schedule, which lists the things you should be doing, and how often the jobs need doing, to keep your house in good repair.

Some of the things it recommends you do annually are:

  • Wash the roof and flashings and check for corrosion
  • If you have a fireplace, get your chimney swept
  • Clean gutters
  • Remove tree branches that overhang your house
  • Wash the exterior walls of your house
  • Clean decks and remove moss build-up
  • Wash windows and check for cracks, damaged putty, flaking paint, corroded hardware.

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