September is upon us. Autumn is just around the corner, bringing with it the season of mists and mellow fruitfulness, according to the poet John Keats.
More prosaically – and no less important – autumn is also a time for ensuring that your home is properly maintained and ready to face whatever the oncoming winter might throw at it.
Why do it now?
Being prepared for the months ahead with a home that is well-maintained not only keeps you warm and snug but also avoids potential expense in the future.
The website Your Repair warns that if you need to call out a tradesman to make repairs or replacements of your kitchen appliances, attend to plumbing problems or fix the central heating boiler at a later time when he is already overbooked, he is likely to charge a premium for his services.
What needs to be done?
The DIY Doctor has published a comprehensive checklist of 25 separate projects to get your home in a tiptop state of repair in advance of the coming winter. Some of these might be well within the capabilities of the competent home handyman, but many may mean your calling in the experts to ensure a thorough job.
A more manageable check-list – and one that is more likely to be within the grasp of any homeowner or buy to let landlord is suggested by the Home Owners’ Alliance. This includes such fairly routine, but essential, tasks as:
- cleaning and putting into storage your garden furniture;
- once the leaves have stopped falling, make sure the gutters and drains are clear of the debris, sweep it away from external walls (to prevent damp building up), and ensure that all rainwater goods are securely fixed in place;
- any external pipes or garden taps need to be insulated against the freezing weather that might lie ahead;
- ensure that there is a clearance of at least 150mm from the ground to the level of your home’s damp proof course;
- examine your roof (by looking up from the bottom of the garden or from across the road) for potentially loose tiles or slates – it will be cheaper to have them fixed now rather than wait until tradesmen are out attending to a rush of emergency calls after the next blast of windy weather;
- if any part of the building has a flat roof, inspect it for damage and look out for the risk of rainwater failing to drain away and just sitting there;
- pay attention to external security measures, such as motion-detector lights, locks on sheds and outbuildings, gates secured and fences intact;
- get any chimneys you are using properly swept;
- as autumn rolls on and the first of the winter storms begin to brew, make sure to check for problems – such as rickety fences or falling branches – in good time rather than run the risk of them causing still more damage as the weather worsens.
Finally, if your boiler hasn’t had its annual service yet, this needs to be carried out by a Gas Safe registered engineer as soon as possible. As a landlord, you are legally obliged to have an annual boiler service. And as both as landlord and a homeowner, your buildings insurance policy typically makes it a condition of your cover you’re your boiler is regularly serviced and maintained.
By acting now and making sure that your property is in a good state of repair before the onset of winter, you are likely to keep yourself and any tenants warm, cosy and safe – and avoid inevitably more costly repairs during the height of winter.