Prepare your property for winter – 10 tips from JustMoney

Blocked gutters, cracked foundations, rotting window and door frames, mould and burst water pipes are just some of the woes that property owners can experience during the harsh winter months.

Given that homes are the largest investment for many South Africans, and that it can be extremely costly to repair cold weather damage, it makes financial sense to invest some time and money in preventative measures.

Shafeeka Anthony, marketing manager of personal finance website, says: “Houses can take a real hammering during the winter.

Whether rain, harsh winds, hail or frost occur in your area, it’s best to undertake any outstanding maintenance sooner rather than later.

“Start by checking the property exterior, then progress to the interior. This will not only help prevent expensive repair bills down the line, but will help ensure that you and your family are snug and cheerful during the cold months.”

JustMoney offers the following ten property maintenance tips:

  1. Cut back vegetation: Overhanging trees can drop branches and leaves on your and your neighbour’s roof and prevent sun from warming your home. Check the health of your trees and trim branches back if needed. Sweep walkways and pavements to prevent slipping.
  2. Clear rain gutters: Autumn leaves can pile up in gutters, so clear them and ensure they function properly. While you’re on the roof, look out for any missing or cracked tiles or shingles. Add downspout extenders to your gutters if necessary to prevent water from pooling at the foundation.
  3. Inspect windows and doors: Check for cracked, chipping or peeling paint. Insulate any draughty openings to keep cold at bay and decrease heating costs.
  4. Prepare your pool: Inspect and shut down your pool system. If you discover problems, autumn is a good time to schedule repairs as pool contractors are less busy.
  5. Adjust your irrigation system: Adjust water times and check for broken lines to avoid wasting water.
  6. Check outdoor lighting: Ensure that outdoor lights are operational to optimise visibility during early morning departures and late arrivals home. A well-lit exterior will enhance both your personal safety and home security.
  7. Heat your home: Check ceiling insulation, and clean your chimney. Ensure that oil, gas or underfloor heating systems are operational. Cut and stack garden wood, or place your order for a delivery of firewood. Store it in a clean, dry location.
  8. Make an entrance: Place dirt-trapping, rubber-backed door mats at main doors. Install hooks or a rail to hang wet, heavy coats.
  9. Add layers: Installing thick, lined curtains, and placing rugs on the floor will help keep surroundings cosy. Fragranced candles, textured throws and additional cushions add comfort. Don’t forget your pets. Ensure they have sufficient clean, warm bedding, and consider a bird feeder in the garden.
  10. Fund repairs wisely: Some preventative measures require only a layer of varnish and a few nails. Other repairs are expensive and call for the services of a professional, for example a tree cutter with the appropriate horticultural training and insurance. Ask friends for recommendations and shop around to ensure you get the best value for your hard-earned money.

“The cost of property repairs is a timely reminder of the importance of building up emergency savings,” says Anthony. “Ideally, you should have sufficient funds to cover your costs for six months. It’s also a good idea to check whether some repairs might be covered under your insurance policy.”

Repairs could also be funded via your home loan if you have built up sufficient resources. Your mortgage bond is generally the lowest interest loan you will ever get.

“Alternatively, you may have to fund repairs by taking out a personal loan. It’s vital to be fully aware of the type, purpose and conditions of any debt before taking it on. Only apply for a personal loan if you are confident that you can make the repayments comfortably,” says Anthony., established 15 years ago, is a trusted voice within the personal finance sector. The JustMoney website offers articles, money management tools and a wide range of financial products and services. Over 200,000 South Africans subscribe to the newsletter to stay informed and become financially savvy. Find the website here.

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