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Building and Property Maintenance

Avoiding Ongoing Maintenance Problems

Maintenance of buildings is an important consideration if you are building, buying or renting a building.

By careful design and the use of low maintenance principles ongoing maintenance costs can be kept low.

If you are going to rent you need to consider that the landlord may well not want to pay for the upkeep. Here we will give you a list of things to check before you rent.

Maintenance of Buildings

Maintenance of buildings is a serious matter and can, of course, be very costly. If you are building or buying property you will, of course, have to pay for any repairs or maintenance yourself.

Some people might be thinking that they are renting property and so maintenance isn't their problem but don't be so sure, you may find later that the smiling face that rented you his "palace" for the next 20 years never had any intention of paying for any maintenance no matter what the lease agreement might say.

Maintenance issues to look out for when buying or renting

When looking for a property here are some things that have a distinct odour of maintenance about them and you might like to avoid:

1. Damaged roof tiles
2. Worn alang alang roofs
3. Plastic roofing (it won't last long).
4. Asbestos (gives you a nasty cough).
5. Cracks in walls larger than 3mm wide.
6. Water damaged ceilings.
7. Broken wall and floor tiles (you will have trouble matching them).
8. Termite damage.
9. Rotten woodwork.
10. Tired or peeling paintwork.
11. Low cost plumbing and electrical fittings.
12. Complex water systems.
13. Leaking and broken taps.
14. Wooden external areas exposed to the weather such as decks, staircases and ballustrades.
15. Swimming pools (unless you are fully aware of the work and cost involved in maintaining them.)

There are many ways of reducing the ongoing costs of maintaining property. Housing authorities are experts at low maintenance house design however their buildings tend to have about as much appeal as a public toilet in a football ground. Ballustrades and stair rails tend to be galvanised steel, window frames are aluminium, door frames are steel, roof gutters and downpipes grey PVC. Often the only vestige of taste left is the front door which these days is often plywood painted in the colour of your choice.

Low maintenance building design and material choice

Not much to get excited about is there? Sadly many of the materials that give a building aesthetic appeal mean maintenance work along the way.

For example we all love thatched "alang alang" roofs but to meet demand methods of cultivation have been "speeded up" which means a roof that used to last 12 to 15 years can now only be expected to last 5 to 8 years.

Beautiful wood for floors, doors, staircases, window frames and wall lining is becoming more and more scarce and expensive. Cheaper wood is being substituted and this can only mean more maintenance headaches down the track.

If you do want to live with the beauty of natural wood, bamboo or alang alang around you it makes sense to accept that every once in a while you will have to pay to keep it up to scratch.

There are, however, some materials that are low maintenance but do have aesthetic appeal such as stone, terracotta, marble and ceramic. In western countries such materials are prohibitively expensive these days but here in Bali we have the advantage of very reasonable and there are some very capable craftsmen around to get the best out of them.

When using such materials it is wise to give it a bit of thought first. That beautiful natural white palimanan stone floor looks stunning until some drunk at a dinner party spills a glass of red happy juice over it and you have a stain that will be harder to remove than Robert Mugabe's dog. You might also, in one of those times of rash thoughtlessness, decide to paint that maintenance free red brick or natural stone wall only to realise later that, once painted, it is no longer maintenance free and you will have to keep on painting it for ever.

So when taking on a building, owning or renting, allow a budget for annual maintenance and make sensible decisions in the first place. The size of the budget should be commensurate with the size and style of the building. When deciding on materials and fittings don't go for the cheapest option, go for the best option. For example external woodwork will last longer, even if you don't take care of it, if you use a high quality hardwood. Regular care can make it last a lifetime.

Copyright © Phil Wilson June 2014
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