He’s a bond trader. She’s a lawyer. They paid $500,000 for their house and send their two children to private school. On the outside, their lives look fairly ordinary, but the inside of their house is a mess.

This couple has completely failed to maintain their once-lovely home to the point where parts of the roof are in serious danger of collapse.

Outside, the home hasn’t been painted in 7 or 8 years. Paint has peeled away from the 80-year old windows, leaving the wood exposed. Caulk has cracked away and water has been seeping into the home.

What might have been a minor roof repair two years ago, turned into a structural problem when the roof over the attached porch started to collapse from rot.

For some reason, reports a friend of the couple who recently decided not to let her children play in their home, they can’t seem to get their act together enough to maintain the property.

If you do regular, ongoing maintenance in your home, the costs are relatively minor, contractors say. During the course of a year, you’ll want to: change the filters inside your central air system (or wash the ones in your window units); replace any caulk on the exterior of your home or in the bathrooms that looks as though it isn’t sealing properly; check out any strange stains or cracks that appear in your home (for water damage), clean your gutters, change your smoke and carbon monoxide detector batteries; make sure your landscaping slopes away from your house; clean the fan hood over your stove to eliminate grease build-up; and walk around your home from time to time, to make sure siding and roof shingles look like they’re on properly.

Regular and ongoing maintenance means tackling larger jobs from time to time. If your house has wood siding or shingles that are stained or painted, you’ll need to repaint or restain every 3 to 7 years, depending on the weather in your area.

If you fail to repaint or restain wood, you leave it exposed to the elements, which may rot the wood over a short period of time. If you don’t replace the caulk at the window joints, you could get water seeping in behind the window, running down your wall. This may eventually rot the wood framing on which your home is built.

While it isn’t mandatory to paint the interior of your home that frequently, you should paint over and then make sure to keep the paint surfaces in good shape thereafter. You should buff and rewax or repolyeurathane your hardwood floors every two to three years. And you should clean your carpet every year or two to prolong its life (vacuuming frequently goes without saying).

Should you discover evidence of pest infestation, you should immediately call a pest service. Carpenter ants can quickly consume a large portion of your wood framing. Termites pose a long-term threat to the structural integrity of your home. Rodents carry diseases that could be transmitted to human beings.

If you have a problem, like a small leak in your roof or under the sink, the easiest and cheapest thing to do is to take care of the problem immediately. Call a roofing professional or a plumber to fix the problem. Then, you can assess the other damage.

By failing to properly take care of your home, you could be setting yourself up for some expensive repairs. Repairs that would have been entirely unnecessary if you had maintained your home in proper condition.

Published: Feb 12, 2001