During Home Inspections I frequently encounter major defects that obviously started as minor issues. If these issues had been corrected at the onset the owner could have saved a substantial amount of work, money and heartache. Something as minor as a loose plumbing connection at a kitchen or bathroom sink can lead to substantial damage if not corrected in a timely manner.
I always include in my reports the statement, “A house has numerous complex systems and components that must be monitored on a routine basis to insure that they are functioning as intended. It is recommended that you become familiar with how your house and its’ systems are supposed to function and then monitor for deviation on a routine basis.”
Basically, learn your home and how it operates! Look, listen and feel! Look for leaks, cracks, stains and any obvious damages. These symptoms could be indicators of structural defects or weather penetration of the home. Listen for abnormal sounds emitting from the HVAC system, continuously running toilets or well pressure tanks that seem to cycle when no water is being used. Feel for drafts or cold/hot zones in the house which could indicate loose or disconnected ductwork.
If an issue is detected it should be remedied as soon as possible. Minor issues can quickly become major problems. A small defect is not going to get any better on its own. That small stain on the ceiling that appeared following the last rain likely indicates an issue with the roof covering or flashing. If this is not properly repaired it will soon lead to large/expensive repairs. The best time to fix an issue is when it is first detected.
While the homeowner can make numerous minor repairs on their own you may lack the knowledge, skills, tools and time to perform the repair properly. I have had clients tell me they didn’t know how to make a repair but that they were sure they could find a video on YouTube. This is true, you can find videos on how to do just about anything. Unfortunately, however there are almost as many videos that demonstrate improper techniques as there are that show the proper ones. Use caution and seek advice from trained professionals prior to attempting any repairs. It is also recommended that any repairs to the electrical system, HVAC system, major plumbing and roofing be made by trained and licensed professionals in order to prevent injury to yourself or damage to your home.
It is also recommended that you have a Home Maintenance Checkup or Inspection on an annual basis. This inspection includes everything that is covered on a standard Home Buyer Inspection. This is a great way for those who are physically or technically unable to monitor their home for issues. While there are nominal costs associated with the inspection, substantial savings can be made if issues are detected and repaired in a timely manner.