Property repair forecasting

Geoff Roberts

Published on December 14, 2009

No matter how meticulously you look after your property, there are certain long-term maintenance items and repairs that are inevitable. Sure, by staying on top of things you may be able to stave some of them off for a bit, but some things are impermanent by nature and are going to have to be repaired or replaced sooner or later, no matter what you do.

A savvy property owner will always keep these items in the back of her head because the big repairs are almost unfailingly also the expensive repairs. In order to avoid being submerged in massive expenses all at once, be sure that you keep the following long-range maintenance items and repairs in mind, stash savings away, and know how up-to-date you are at any given time in order to better project just when these expenses may come due.

Price tag: $10,000 or higher

How frequently you have to replace your roof depends on a variety of factors, including the type of roof you have and the sort of climate you live in. For example, shake or wood shingles will last from 20 to 25 years; composition shingles will last for 12 to 20 years; rock roofs will last for 12 to 15 years, and metal roofs will last for 50 to 75 years.

Even though most of these time spans are rather lengthy, it’s important that you always know exactly how old your roof is so that you can forecast inspections and, ultimately, replacement. The lifetime of a roof can be extended to the longer end of its expected lifetime by religiously cleaning gutters and checking for leaks, exposed areas, and loose shingles. When it does come time to repair your roof, make sure you search long and hard to identify a quality roofer. Although you may pay more up front, you will save in the long-term when you consider the fact that thickness and quality of installation can significantly add to the lifetime of your roof.

Price tag: $3,000 to $5,000

Heating systems were not built to last forever. On average, a furnace will last from 14 to 20 years although, again, its lifespan is expanded or contracted based on the quality and frequency of repairs and general upkeep.

Having your furnace inspected once a year and diligently changing your air filter (up to once a month in climates that experience cold winter weather) is a great way to put off that furnace replacement for as long as possible. Taking these measures also saves you money in the short term (which can be stashed away to save up for that eventual replacement) by increasing energy efficiency and, thus, lowering heating bills.

Price tag: $350 to $2,000

Particularly if you own multiple units, appliance costs can add up quickly. When it comes to appliances, unfortunately you cannot really control how tenants treat them on a day-to-day basis. Because this is out of your control, be sure that you perform a thorough inspection of refrigerators, stoves, dishwashers, and (if applicable) washers and dryers every time a unit switches tenants. Should you identify necessary repairs, be sure to fix them, no matter how small they may seem.

While all of these appliances separately don’t necessarily represent a massive expense, should you find yourself in a position where multiple appliances have to be fixed at once, you certainly will feel the pressure. And because appliances (particularly refrigerators and stoves) are such an integral part of tenants’ daily lives, chances are if an appliance does need to be replaced, you’ll have to take care of it immediately. With that in mind, be sure that you always have funds stashed away and at the ready should a spur-of-the-moment appliance replacement become necessary.

Although all of the items mentioned in this blog will have to be replaced sooner or later, as a general rule of thumb, a formal or informal inspection of their status on an annual basis will extend their lifetime significantly. But, just in case, be sure that you always have a stash of funds set aside for when the day comes that replacements are necessary.


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Geoff Roberts

Geoff is a marketer, surfer, musician, and writer. He lives in San Diego, CA.

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