Ongoing maintenance is the key to enhancing the value of a home
When, as now, economic conditions in South Africa become tough there is always a tendency for cash-strapped homeowners to cut back on what should be a totally non-negotiable outlay - the ongoing maintenance of their homes. They may well continue to keep their appliances and motorcars running - but their greatest asset, their home, is very often neglected.

Lanice Steward, MD of Anne Porter Knight Frank, said that this has, time and again, proved to be disastrous because neglect will inevitably result in the home losing its value drastically.

Equally serious, she said, is that delays in maintenance always result in very expensive repairs becoming necessary. In every case that she can think of, she said, it has been far more expensive to carry out the necessary repairs than to lay out regular sums on ongoing maintenance.

Steward mentioned creeping damp, fascia and strake boards, guttering, down pipes, paving, pergolas, window frames and wooden shutters as being the items most likely to deteriorate if neglected. Certain elementary plumbing and sewerage lines, she added, should also be dealt with immediately they cease to function as they should.

“Any well managed maintenance expenditure,” said Steward, “will add many times its cost to the ultimate value of the home.”

This, rule, she said, also applies to gardens. Expenditure here, she claims, is so worthwhile that it still amazes her how uncaring some homeowners can be.

“R1,000 spent at a nursery for garden plants will add five to ten times that to the value of your home,” she said.

Two tips, said Steward, are particularly worth bearing in mind.

“The first is that, although any planting is likely to be a good idea, the best are those trees and shrubs which in time will hide unsightly aspects of the view – the neighbour’s roof, telephone poles and the like.

“Secondly, homeowners should pay particular attention to their verges, even if these are beyond the boundary walls. Verges give the visitor his first impression of the home and if he then feels that it has been well cared for, his whole attitude will be improved.”

In general, said Steward, homeowners should try to see the home as it will be in five to ten years’ time when first seen by a prospective buyer.

“This takes a little imagination but it will help you make the right decisions.”

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