Family Magazine

Building Maintenance and Your Budget

By Peppertan


One thing first-time house buyers seldom consider is future maintenance cost. Not even the banks include it in their affordability calculations. Young couples are full of energy, and they are high on life. They do not think of such mundane things as leaking roofs and blocked drains when they are out house hunting.

More exciting things like an upmarket neighborhood and English bay windows are higher on their priority list.  At some point, things will start to break, and the starry-eyed couple will have to wrestle with the realities of homeownership.  

Let us take a closer look at some of the more common items that can potentially have an adverse effect on your budget and how to prevent them. (A sure way to reduce your maintenance bill is to prevent failures from occurring in the first place.)

Blocked Drains

The inevitability of blocked drains. It is only a matter of time before the shower or kitchen sink becomes stuffed up. With the right tools, you can unblock a greywater drain yourself. Do not even attempt to unblock a sewage pipe on your own. Use a professional, call a plumber. 


Not much can be done to prevent blockages. As a general rule of thumb, use a filter and try not to flush fat down the kitchen sink drain. Do not flush diapers down the toilet.

Leaking Roof

A leaking roof will most certainly damage other parts of the house if left unattended. Ceilings and painted walls are the most common areas to suffer resultant damage from a roof leak. Do not try to patch a hole yourself; use professionals like to repair it. 


Do a yearly roof inspection to identify weak areas where leaks may occur in the future. Repair leaks without delay when they occur.


Blown light bulbs and malfunctioning stove plates are the most common occurring electric failures. More serious electrical failures can occur when water comes into contact with electrical wire. Most often than not, the cable will be damaged from the resultant short. Replacing wiring can be a costly affair. In theory, the new wire must be pulled into place. But in most cases the old wire breaks in the pulling process. Then new conduit must be installed that can include cutting into plaster or removing tiles. It can be costly.  


Change your filament bulbs to LED bulbs. Although more expensive LED bulbs have a much longer lifespan. Attend to rising damp and leaking pipes urgently to prevent damage to wiring. Always switch stove plates off before removing the pot. The pot helps with heat dissipation from the stove plate and prevents damage.



Dripping taps and burst geysers are some of the plumbing failures homeowners most often encounter. Water damage to sink cupboards also happen frequently.


Not much can be done to prevent dripping taps and burst geysers. Make sure that the joint where the kitchen wall meets the sink top, is properly sealed. 

Structural Defects

The stuff of nightmares. A sagging foundation, leaning walls, and foundation cracks are costly and not easy to repair. Sometimes they cannot be fixed. Such a scenario will not only destroy your maintenance budget, but  it can potentially be a severe blow to your financial health. 


Do NOT buy a brick house built on clay or turf. Before buying, do a complete and thorough inspection. If you find any structural defects, walk away. Remove any trees that are growing next to brick walls.

Maintain it!

The One Percent Rule. Having finances in place when something needs to be fixed will make the process much less unpleasant and more stress-free. In general, one percent of the purchase price must be allocated each year for maintenance. For example, if your home cost $200,000, you should set aside $2,000 per year. Budget $166 per month for maintenance.

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