Routine Home Maintenance an Important Investment - U of I Extension

News Release

Routine Home Maintenance an Important Investment

This article was originally published on April 26, 2018 and expired on July 15, 2018. It is provided here for archival purposes and may contain dated information.

Retirement planning tends to focus on saving and investing your money in a diversified portfolio. However, don't forget that your home is also part of your asset portfolio. In the U.S., 63 percent of all households have equity in their own homes, and for many, it's the largest piece of their portfolio, according to U.S. Census data.

To keep the value of your home, be sure that regular maintenance and repair is in your plans. Maintenance may require time on your part — either doing the work yourself or hiring someone else. It's very likely to require money too! You may want to set aside money each month toward a home maintenance fund so that it will be there when you need it. The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau says a common rule of thumb is to plan to invest one percent of your home value in home maintenance each year. For example, if your home's market value is $100,000, then 1 percent is $1,000. Of course, depending on your home and needed repairs, you may need more money in a particular year.

Now that the weather has improved in central Illinois, it's time to walk around your home and decide which repairs are high priority this year. Don't forget to look at the side of the house that you don't tend to walk by in the winter. Is there any damage to the house's siding, trim or masonry? Are there any painted surfaces that need to be repainted? Check for damaged gutters or downspouts.

Keep in mind, doing small repairs can save you from large, costly repairs later. For example, small leaks in a roof can lead to significant damage in internal walls over time.

This is an especially good time of year to check vents, louvers and chimney caps for bird nests. I almost bought a new dryer one year before I realized that the reason the dryer wasn't working well was due to a bird nest in the dryer vent! This was a home maintenance problem that was cheaply and simply solved.

As you walk around outside, look up. Check the underside of your roof where accessible for water stains or dampness. Look for damaged flashing – the material used on your roof or walls to prevent damage from water seepage. Don’t forget to also check your roof for any damage that may have occurred over the winter.

If you plan to repair or renovate your home, government programs may make it easier for you to afford those home improvements. Visit to learn more about these programs.

As part of Money Smart Week, Habitat for Humanity of Champaign County and United Way of Champaign County are hosting a Home Maintenance Workshop on Wednesday, April 25, from 6 to 8 p.m. at Habitat for Humanity. Participants will receive a seasonal home maintenance checklist to help them keep track of needed chores and ensure that they are caring for their homes properly. The curriculum meets the National Industry Standards for Homeownership Education and includes home safety, preventative maintenance and improvements, as well how to reduce energy usage to save money. It should be fun and interactive.

If you’re thinking of buying a home, check your credit reports first! You want to be sure that all the information in your credit reports are accurate before you apply for a loan. Would you like help looking over your report or obtaining it? Money Mentor volunteers now hold office hours to answer questions like these. Call University of Illinois Extension at 217-333-7672 to schedule a time.

Money Mentor volunteer training session begins soon! Mentors complete 30 hours of training that includes financial education and coaching skills. To learn more about the program and to become a mentor volunteer, please visit our website at or call 217-333-7672. We are seeking mentors in Champaign, Ford, Iroquois and Vermilion counties to help community members who ask for help with their finances.

Source: Kathy Sweedler, Extension Educator, Consumer Economics,

Pull date: July 15, 2018