ONGOING, ONGOING, ONGOING . . .
Having grown up in the hot delta valley, and having spent summers baking in the sun (in an era when the application of baby oil was the preferred method of tanning), my aging skin has paid the price. Consequently, every few years, I'm forced to address the damage with professionals in a series of procedures that are not only extremely uncomfortable but expensive to boot. ("Yes, that hurts!")
Inevitably, the older I get, the more involved the maintenance seems to become. (Are you picking up the thread?)
This is also the case when it comes to our homes; the longer they've been standing, the more maintenance they require. Here in Piedmont, many of our homes have crossed the centennial mark. Consequently, it shouldn’t really shock any of us when unwelcome issues emerge, break, or burst that need our immediate attention and correction (not to mention our pocketbooks).
Currently, I'm replacing a kitchen light, waiting on an appliance repairman, and collecting bids to repaint the front porch - a job that's repeated every few years, irrespective of the weather - it's wood, the paint chips . . . and so it goes.
On Tuesday, Jill and I aggressively tackled my garden, and next up on my "To- Do" list, is the unavoidable but necessary replacement of ALL of the defective PEX pipes throughout our house, despite the fact that the plumbing was replaced entirely when Cliff and I gutted and renovated the property in 2014.
In what's become the "nightmare scenario," the faulty plastic pipes have begun to form micro-cracks which create spontaneous leaks between the walls. (I think I'm forming micro-cracks.) Unfortunately, we aren't aware that a leak has occurred until it's saturated the insulation and soaked through the dry wall (now "wet wall") at which point, it's not just the leak that needs addressing, but the ceilings as well. (I did say "nightmare scenario," right?) Meanwhile, the contractor who oversaw the work has moved back to Ireland.
While the replacement of my home's pipes is unavoidable, too often, homeowners ignore such red flags, which ultimately exacerbates any problems and creates MUCH bigger issues down the road. (Don't do that!)
Years ago, Jill and I helped a Seller who had blindly and blissfully lived in her home for a decade while simultaneously managing to ignore a leaking pipe that, unattended, had quite literally rotted out the kitchen-sink cabinet, AND the joist beneath it. Even more concerning was the troublesome decay in the living room floor-to-ceiling windows due to a failing second-floor Juliet balcony. What should have been a routine job by a licensed plumber or contractor ultimately resulted in extensive and expensive repairs.
In truth, I've yet to meet the house (or the aging person) that didn't require continual maintenance, although Sellers often waive off such considerations. Even if your annual chores are nowhere near as extensive as the work described above, EVERY house has ongoing maintenance requirements: cleaning gutters, clearing drains, washing windows, patching roofs, changing furnace filters, repairing broken windows, replacing sprinkler heads, straightening leaning fences, or scheduling periodic painting, just to name a few. You simply cannot live in a house for years and years without caring for it. (Correction: you can, but you shouldn't.)
Thus, when filling out the Seller Disclosures, Homeowners should absolutely state their "ongoing maintenance" routines. In other words, if Roto-Rooter is on speed dial, say so. Every responsible Homeowner knows that some portion of the weekend is going to be dedicated to changing lightbulbs, raking beds, and cleaning out the storage room (or maybe that's just me); it's when Buyers are left to discover hidden conditions that sparks begin to fly. (Buyers HATE surprises.)
So when selling, the rule of thumb is to disclose, disclose, DISCLOSE and let the informed Buyer come to their own conclusions. But absolutely, do NOT assume that they won't discover the items you've left off the list. (They will.)
With that in mind, I'm off to the store to buy sunscreen with an SPF of 30 - as directed. Although the damage has apparently already been done, the nurses routinely caution me that there's no reason to add to the repair work already in progress. (Sigh.) That goes for houses, too.
Zap away. (Ouch!)
How can we help You?
PS - Happy Mother's Day to all the self- sacrificing, embattled, exhausted, loving, and "I'd step in front of a freight train to save my child" moms out there (you know who you are). I hope your kids send you oodles of love come Sunday - you've earned it. (Case and Tristan, consider this your reminder.)
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Julie Gardner, has been writing The Perspective for 18 years and has published more than 670 essays on life and real estate.