A man replaces the silicone joints on a bathtub.
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Renovating

Home maintenance: how to maintain property value

Arne Schätzle

It’s partly up to you as the owner whether your property remains in good condition for a long time or becomes run-down prematurely. In order to maintain value and functionality in the long term, regular maintenance is important – on both new buildings and existing properties. We help you keep an overview of building maintenance with our checklist.

In this article

Maintenance: register damage, maintain value

Careful building maintenance pays off: maintenance includes all the measures that are needed to maintain the original condition and functionality of a building. Building maintenance includes the following steps:

  • Upkeep
  • Inspection
  • Repair
  • Improvement

In principle, the earlier you detect damage, the lower the risk of it spreading unnoticed. And, as a rule, the costs for repairing the damage are also lower. In other words: regular inspections and upkeep as part of your maintenance program are a prerequisite for ensuring a long service life for your house and its technical installations.

A house that has constantly been maintained is also easier to sell. If it has few defects thanks to regular upkeep, it is more attractive to potential buyers than a house with a repair backlog. In short: you can maintain or even increase the value of your property by means of upkeep, repairs and modernizations.

The renovation fund: a financial cushion for repairs and modernizations

Maintenance costs include all the costs incurred for upkeep, inspection, repair and improvement work. In other words, any necessary repairs are also included. However, while the expenses for taxes, operating costs, inspections and upkeep are calculable, the costs for repairs are usually unexpected.

As a forward-looking homeowner, you should be financially prepared for this and always have a budget available for maintenance costs – a renovation fund. By setting aside certain amounts, you can be sure that you will be able to act if, for example, the boiler breaks down, moisture penetrates the roof, or the sanitary facilities need replacing.

Renovation fund: amounts to set aside

Peters’ formula is often used to estimate the amount of the annual renovation fund needed for residential buildings. According to this method, you multiply the pure production costs, i.e. the material and manufacturing costs (but not the land or development costs), by a factor of 1.5 and divide the result by 80 – this then gives you the amount you should pay into your maintenance account each year. If you multiply production costs of 400,000 francs by a factor of 1.5, the total is 600,000 francs. Dividing this by 80 gives 7,500 francs, which is the amount you should pay into your renovation fund each year. Peters’ formula is based on empirical values. Other calculation methods estimate a renovation fund of one percent of the new building value per year.

In order to identify what repairs need to be carried out in and around the house, you as the owner should carry out an inspection or, for technically complex parts of the building, arrange for regular upkeep. The best way to do this is to use a checklist showing exactly which task needs to be completed when. This way you won’t forget important control points and dates.

Service life of material and components

Different lifetimes apply to the different components and materials of a house. Under normal use, the technical service life of a house is thought to be at least 80 to 100 years. However, the average replacement dates for individual components and materials vary:

Close-up of a wooden floor where the annual rings and knotholes of the wood are visible.

What to expect: a floor has an average life span of 5 to 15 years.

Replacement period: 5 to 15 years

Coats of paint, wallpaper, floor coverings, exterior coatings on facades, windows, roof coverings on flat roofs, open wooden structures, pumps and oil burners.

Replacement period: 15 to 30 years

Roof gutters, downpipes, zinc sheet metal cladding, sealing of external components with jointing material, external glazing, oil tanks, boilers and heating systems, electronic control devices, external tile coverings and internal plastic coverings.

Replacement period: 30 to 50 years

Chimney heads, roof coverings, lightning protection systems, exterior windows and doors, exterior plaster, exterior stairs, sanitary pipes, electric sockets and switches, kitchen and bathroom equipment and interior tiling.

As the service life depends on a variety of factors such as the quality of the material and workmanship, environmental impact and stress, the best way to prevent unplanned maintenance measures is by carrying out regular visual inspections. But what should be inspected and when?

We have compiled the following list as a guide. Different intervals are recommended depending on the component and material:

Inspection intervals for regular maintenance 

  • Component
  • Inspection interval
  • Roof drainage
  • half-yearly
  • Roof connections
  • yearly
  • Open wooden constructions
  • yearly
  • Chimney head
  • every three years
  • Roof construction
  • every five years
  • Bitumen sheeting roofs
  • every three years
  • Outdoor plaster
  • every three years
  • Outdoor paint
  • every three years
  • Outdoor walls
  • every thirty years
  • Wooden windows and doors
  • every three years
  • Plastic doors
  • every five years
  • Basement walls
  • every thirty years
  • Light shafts
  • every ten years
  • Boilers
  • yearly
  • Radiators
  • every five years
  • Pipes (gas, water, plumbing)
  • every five years
  • Indoor plaster
  • every ten years
  • Light walls
  • every ten years
  • Tiles, ceramics
  • every ten years
  • Parquet flooring, planed boards
  • every ten years
  • Attic
  • every thirty years

Checklist for inspections

This checklist will help you with your inspections in and around the house.

Close-up of a gutter on an older house roof partly covered with moss.

Gutters should be checked regularly – preferably every six months.

1. Roofs and gutters

  • Are the roof tiles complete and correctly positioned?
  • Are the snow guard grilles, sandstones or the walkway grid for the chimney sweep secure?
  • Are there any anomalies on connections and openings (ventilation pipe, aerial)?
  • Is the roof drainage OK?
  • Is the wooden roof construction, including ceiling beams and beam heads, free of fungal and pest infestation?
  • Are there stains on the inner cladding of the roof or the underside of the flat roof that indicate moisture?
  • Do the sealing membranes of flat roofs show bubbles, cracks or damage?
  • Are the gutters and downpipes free of leaves, dirt and plant growth?
  • Are there rust stains or leaks on the downpipes or gutters that could be the cause of damp masonry?
  • Does the chimney head show cracks or damage to masonry joints, or are there cracks in the chimney surround that could be responsible for the penetration of moisture?

2. Windows and doors

  • Are the window and door seals intact?
  • Are windows and doors close to the frame so that drafts are prevented?
  • Are the window and door fittings functional or do they jam?
  • Do the wooden elements need a new coat of paint?
  • Is there any indication that glazing is letting through air, making a window “blind” and causing it to lose its insulating effect?
  • Are the elastic joints between the masonry and windows/doors still intact?

3. Facade and wall bases

  • Are there any slivers or sanding on the plaster that indicates the penetration of moisture?
  • Are there any cracks on the plaster, and if so, what are they caused by?
  • Do paint and coatings adhere well?
  • Is rising damp visible on the facade?
  • Are there any obvious slivers at the masonry joints?
  • Are the wall bases protected against splash water?
Climbing plants creeping up to the roof of a building.

No matter how nice it looks, long-term damage can be caused by plants creeping up a house facade. They should be removed in the course of maintenance.

4. Balcony or terrace

  • Are the drains free of dirt or leaves?
  • Do the tiles or stone slabs have cracks that can cause the substructure to become damp?
  • Are the connections to adjacent building components or to the house facade intact?
  • Is there any damage to the parapet or railing?

5. Base plate or basement

  • Does a musty smell indicate that moisture is entering the basement?
  • Are there discolorations on the walls, floor and ceiling due to moisture?
  • Are the basement rooms free of fungal infestation?
  • Are cracks appearing on the wall or floor? Are the basement windows intact, could they need a new coat of paint, are there cracks between the window and the brickwork?
  • Are the light shafts free, is the water drain functional?

6. Heating and hot water production

  • Are the radiators, water and wastewater pipes free of calcification?
  • Do the pipes have sufficient thermal insulation?
  • Has regular upkeep of the heating system been ensured by a specialist?
  • Are there any anomalies on pipe connections?
  • Do the fittings function properly, do they drip or are they calcified?

In Switzerland, chimney sweeps are responsible for checking and ensuring the upkeep of heating systems. Real estate owners have the obligation to arrange for any installations that are subject to sweeping and inspection to be cleaned and checked at specified intervals.

Conclusion: inspect regularly, act quickly, maintain value.

If your inspection reveals any need for repairs to your house, you should act quickly. If you postpone repairs, they can become much more expensive later on. And your house loses value with every missed repair.

Our checklist represents an excellent guide to talk you through the regular inspection of your home. And in many cases, you can claim back any maintenance costs incurred against tax. We hope you can use this information to make the most of your property.

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