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Maintaining a holiday home

Whether a primary residence or holiday home, upkeep is a vital aspect of homeownership, says Adrian Goslett, Regional Director and CEO of RE/MAX of Southern Africa.

“Maintaining a property assists in ensuring that the home holds its value over time and that it remains in a livable condition,” says Goslett. “However, for many owners there is often the dilemma of what work needs to be done on the property and what they can actually afford to do when owning a second property.”
 
He notes that when a homeowner is at their holiday home enjoying their time off, the last thing they will feel like doing is thinking about what needs to be done around the property to prepare it for the months when they are not there. However, just like their primary residence their holiday home will need to be taken care of. 

“The grass grows rapidly during the rainy season, leaves fall from the trees during the autumn months and the swimming pool turns green. These are just some of the aspects that need to be considered and addressed by those who have holiday homes. It is also important to remember any large-scale maintenance projects should be booked well in advance, as experienced, reliable contractors are often not working during the holiday season,” says Goslett. “When selecting a contractor get at least two quotes for work that needs to be carried out on the property. It is surprising how different the range of prices can be from one contractor to the next. It is also advisable to ask for contactable references.”
 
Goslett adds that if the property is going to be left empty for long periods of time during the year, there are several things that holiday homeowners can do to ensure that their property is kept in a good condition:
 
Exterior Maintenance:
 
Exterior walls – Check for any cracks in the exterior walls and carry out the necessary repairs. Cracks in the walls could lead to damp problems, which can be costly to fix. Early detection and maintenance will prevent larger repair outlays at a later stage.
 
Door locks – Ensure that all door locks are in good working order and where necessary replace faulty lock barrels. This aspect cannot be over emphasized as it will assist in keeping the home safe when no-one is around. Remember to also have a look at the locks on any outbuildings such as sheds. 
 
Gutters and downpipes – debris can cause blockages in gutters and downpipes, which could result in penetrating damp and damaged fascia boards. Holiday homeowners should clear any leaves or foreign items out of their gutters at least once a year.  It is also advisable to replace any damaged gutter sections and seal joints.
 
Drains - If possible, jet wash any accessible drainage points. This will prevent blockages from forming and ensure the integrity of the drain.

Window and door frames – wooden frames will require regular maintenance, especially if the home is located at the coast.  Wooden frames should be inspected for rot and treated with a weatherproofing solvent at least once a year. Although it might be expensive at the onset, replacing wooden frames with aluminum will reduce the need for maintenance and will be a cost effective solution over the long term.
 
Patios and terraces –
Wash down the patio or terrace to remove any dirt and see whether any grouting is missing and needs to be replaced. Remove and repair any damaged grout to prevent frost damage over the colder months and to ensure good surface drainage.
 
It may also be worthwhile to consider getting the lawnmower and garden equipment serviced.
 
Interior Maintenance:
 
Geysers – The geyser is the most power-hungry component in a home. Ensure that the geyser is turned off over periods when the property is not in use.
 
Water Mains – The water should be shut off at the mains. Once the water mains have been shut off, open up all the taps in the basins, sinks and showers to drain all the water from the pipes. This will prevent the water in the pipes from causing rust.

Plugs - If possible, remove all plugs from wall sockets to prevent electrical equipment being damaged during thunderstorms.
 
Fridge and freezer – The freezer and the fridge should be thoroughly defrosted and the doors should be left open to prevent mold from forming inside the unit.
 
“A property that is well-maintained will retain its value and will be a pleasure to those who make use of it. Taking care of the property and fixing  problems as soon as they arise, will ensure that small issues don’t become major complications,” Goslett concludes.


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