Buying a new home is a thrilling experience, but it’s also one of the most significant commitments you can make. As a homeowner, your job is to protect your home from the elements and keep it in shape so you can get the most out of your investment. You may not know where to begin when it comes to exterior maintenance, especially if you bought a fixer-upper. We’re happy to lend a hand with this new homeowner’s guide. We’ll show you the essential exterior elements to repair right away, and how to maintain your home all year long.
What to Do After Buying Your First Home
You might be tempted to throw a house party the minute you have the keys to your new home. However, you’ll want to try to make repairs before you move in, if possible, so you can enjoy your home with peace of mind.
The first step is to make a list of needed repairs. By prioritizing repairs on a list, you’ll be able to manage home maintenance like a pro. Here are a couple of tips.
- Review your home inspection report: Look at your home inspection report to start your new homeowner checklist. Make sure to move urgent repairs, such as necessary maintenance to the roof, windows, doors or siding, to the top of the list.
- Make a seasonal maintenance list: Every season calls for specific maintenance tasks. Consider the season, and start maintaining your home right away. Regular upkeep will help protect your home from damage and save you tons of money in the long run. We’ll help you make seasonal maintenance checklists below.
In general, you’ll want to make any repairs that could prevent water damage immediately. Water damage can be very costly to fix. For example, according to the Federal Emergency Management Agency, just an inch of water in the home can lead to $27,000 or more in damage. Water also leads to mold and mildew, which only takes 24 to 48 hours to develop and thousands of dollars to remediate.
Prevention is the key to avoiding water damage. By making sure your roof doesn’t leak and your gutters are in good condition, you can save yourself a lot of money and headaches over time.
Here are maintenance steps you’ll want to take before you move in, regardless of the season.
1. Inspect the Roof
Make it a habit to regularly inspect your roof. Your roof protects your home from the weather and provides insulation. With regular inspection, you’ll catch necessary repairs early before they turn into a bigger problem.
To inspect your roof, look for curling shingle edges, loss of roofing granules, cracked shingles, rusted flashing, missing shingles or signs of water leaks within the home. If you’re not sure whether you need to repair or replace the roof, don’t hesitate to call a professional. A damaged roof is not something you’ll want to put on hold.
2. Clean Gutters and Downspouts
It’s critical your gutters are clean and function properly to keep water away from the foundation and out of the basement. If gutters get clogged with leaves and debris, water will run down the side of your house instead of flowing away from your home.
As you clean out the gutters, check to make sure they are securely attached to the house. There shouldn’t be a space between the roof and the gutter. Make sure downspouts send water at least five feet from the foundation. If you notice any cracks or splits in the gutters, or if they sag, you may need to replace them immediately.
3. Check the Trim
Check for dry rot and exposed wood around the exterior of your home, especially the trim. Wood trim around windows and doors is a common spot for rot, specifically if the previous homeowner didn’t properly maintain the gutters. Make sure the trim is in good shape so it can keep out the elements.
4. Check the Siding
Check the siding and look for chipped paint. You want to make sure you don’t have any exposed wood on the exterior, because wood can rot. Also, aim to repair gaps or cracks to keep out moisture and insects. Lastly, check for bulging or warped siding, because this may point to damage beneath the siding.
What Every New Homeowner Should Have
With all the commotion of buying a new home, you probably didn’t write a hardware store shopping list yet. We’ll help you get started with a list of exterior maintenance must-haves.
1. Lawn Care Equipment
As long as you have a lawn, you’ll need a lawnmower to keep vegetation under control. Consumer Reports can be a useful resource to help you compare brands and find the best mower for your needs and budget. Don’t forget to consider a weed whacker for hard-to-reach places.
Depending on where you live, you may also need snow removal equipment to clear your driveway, sidewalk and front steps. Consider a snowblower or less expensive options like a snow shovel. Stock up on de-icer salt.
2. Garden Hose
You may be surprised to find all the ways to use a garden hose. For example, you can use a garden hose to flush gutters with water after removing debris. If gutters aren’t too clogged, a hose can come in handy for quick cleaning. You can also use a garden hose to clean vinyl siding by rinsing the siding, then scrubbing it with a long-handled brush and soapy water.
Consider how you plan to use the hose to help you choose the right length. If you want a hose that’ll last a long time, buy a rubber one.
Every homeowner needs a well-stocked toolbox for quick repairs or DIY projects. Here are items to keep in the garage:
- Flathead and Phillips screwdriver
- Utility knife
- Putty knife
- Tape measure
- Adjustable crescent wrench
- Nail gun
- Staple gun
- Multipurpose power drill and drill bits
- Assorted screws and nails
- Extension cord
- Safety gear, such as ear protection, gloves and goggles
4. Paint Supplies
Paint supplies can come in handy when you need a quick touch-up. Stock up on the following items:
- Paint can opener
- Paint scraper
- Five-gallon container for mixing paint
- Paint screen
- Roller tray
- Roller frame and sleeves
- Painter’s tape
Home Exterior Inspection Checklist for Every Season
Anytime there’s a major storm, regardless of the season, it’s a good idea to check the roof and gutters for any damage. With that in mind, staying on top of maintenance will save you from costly repairs down the road and make your home comfortable and safe.
Nevertheless, maintenance costs can add up, and you might be wondering, “How can I save money after buying a house?” Experts recommend setting aside about 1 percent of your home’s purchase price per year for maintenance costs. So, for example, if your home was $250,000, try to set aside $2,500 every year for maintenance. By keeping up with repairs, it should be easier to manage costs and stay within your budget.
As long as you regularly care for your home and don’t need to make any significant repairs, you should be able to relax for most of the summer. Here’s a short summer maintenance checklist to keep you on track.
- Make repairs: Summer is an excellent time to make repairs due to the weather, and because you’ll have plenty of time to get things done before winter sets in.
- Check doors and windows: Make sure doors and windows close tightly to keep out bugs and save on energy bills. Consider if it’s time to replace any doors or windows. You might replace your windows if you have single-pane windows or if there’s visible damage. Likewise, if your front door is not keeping air out, or if it’s hard to open or shut, it might be time to get a new door.
- Clean and repair the deck or porch: Your deck or porch might only need a good cleaning come summer, but check for loose boards or posts and make any necessary repairs. If large areas are rotted or cracked, consider replacing the deck or porch.
Fall is when you’ll be finishing up summertime repairs and preparing your home for winter. The mild weather can make working outside a breeze. Here are maintenance tasks to add to your list.
- Plant trees: In the fall, consider planting trees in the right spots to help you reduce energy costs. Trees can shield your house from cold winter air and keep your house shaded in the summer. According to the Arbor Day Foundation, planting deciduous trees on the east, west and northwest sides of your home can decrease air conditioning costs by up to 35 percent.
- Clean gutters: After the leaves fall, clean the gutters, flush them with water and tighten brackets if needed. A clogged gutter can lead to an ice dam once winter arrives. Replace any old or damaged gutters with new ones. Consider asking professionals to inspect and clean the gutters for you.
- Inspect the roof: Fall may be the most critical time of the year to check the roof. Look for any damage and make sure to fix it before winter arrives to protect your house from snow and ice.
- Winterize the air conditioning system: Remove window air conditioning units and store them away. If you have an outside unit, cover it with a tarp and secure the tarp with bungee cords.
- Turn off the hose: Drain the hose and store it inside. Shut off outdoor water valves to keep pipes from freezing.
- Get the chimney cleaned: If you have a chimney, get it cleaned once a year in the fall or spring.
- Seal cracks and gaps: Seal cracks in the foundation. Water can get into any openings in the structure and freeze, leading to further cracking and mold. Caulk around the windows or door frames to keep heat in, and where pipes or wires enter the home.
During the winter, you won’t be making a lot of exterior repairs due to the cold. However, here are some items to add to your winter to-do list.
- Check the snowblower: Make sure your snowblower is in excellent condition and prepared to handle a snowstorm, so you don’t get stuck in the house.
- Look for ice dams: Regularly check your roof for ice dams throughout the winter. An ice dam forms when ice accumulates along the eaves. Ice dams are heavy and can lead to gutter, roof and siding damage. They can also cause damage when they melt. Consider buying a roof snow rake to remove snow after a storm and prevent ice dams.
- Inspect the roof after a storm: Check your roof and gutters for damage or debris after snowstorms.
Spring is the time of year to clean the exterior after a long, harsh winter and to prepare for the heat and humidity of the summer ahead. Here’s what you should do to maintain your home in the spring.
- Clean the yard: Rake up dead leaves from the winter and lay down fresh mulch to keep weeds from growing.
- Trim branches: Spring is the perfect time to trim tree branches that hang over the house. Aim to keep branches five to seven feet away from the roof, which will help moisture and debris stay away. It also helps prevent squirrels and other creatures from exploring the rooftop.
- Clean the gutters: Aim to clean the gutters at least twice a year, ideally in the spring and fall. Remove clogs and check for damage. Using the garden hose, make sure water flows away from the house through the downspout and does not form puddles at the foundation. If you’re not up for standing on a ladder, consider hiring a professional gutter cleaner.
- Inspect paint: Spring is an excellent time to check for chipping or peeling paint anywhere on the home’s exterior. You’ll have plenty of time to complete projects or hire a professional.
- Wash the house: Wash the windows and siding to remove dirt and grime that may have built up over the winter and help prevent damage to the paint.
- Inspect the roof: Your roof may have endured a rough winter. Consider asking a professional to inspect the roof for winter-related damage. Although you may be able to see some types of damage, such as a missing shingle, a professional can spot problem areas you may not notice with an untrained eye. This step is especially crucial if the roof is more than 10 years old.
- Repair damaged window screens: Now’s the time to replace window screens that have holes or tears. You’ll want to be able to enjoy the fresh springtime air without worrying about bugs getting inside.
Contact Sunshine Contracting for Exterior Repairs
If you feel overwhelmed by tasks in this new homeowner guide, allow us to help. At Sunshine Contracting, our trained and experienced crew is ready to take care of your exterior remodeling needs. With over 20 years of experience serving customers in northern Virginia, we can tackle the most critical exterior projects to help you keep your home safe and comfortable. From roof repair to siding installation, our award-winning company is your leading provider of exterior remodeling. To learn more about our services or to schedule a free estimate, contact us today!