Since you spend much more of your time at home inside your house than standing outside looking at it, you may not be as aware of exterior maintenance issues as interior ones. Winter can be rough on a house and a property. Some of the things that you should consider when budgeting for care of the outside of your house include:
- Replacement and repair of your roof and gutters
Obviously, an entire roof replacement can be very costly, but, beyond that, a small leak may be caused by missing shingles, improper or damaged flashing or overflowing gutters, Be sure to have your gutters cleaned 2-3 times a year as clogged gutters are the number one cause of roof leaks. Also, if you have skylights, be sure that any caulking or other water barriers are in good condition before the winter cold and snow sets in.
- Exterior sheathing–paint, siding, stonework (is power washing needed?)
If your house is painted stucco, does the stucco itself or the painting need attention? If it’s painted wood, is the wood in good repair? Is the paint cracking? If you have vinyl or aluminum siding, is everything firmly attached? Do you have a brick or stone home? Is it well-pointed? Any cracks allow water penetration which, in the cold, becomes ice and expands, making the cracks larger and threatening the integrity of the structure.
- Windows and screens
Before the cold weather arrives, make sure that there are no cracks in any of the window panes, that they all secure in the closed and locked position and that you don’t feel and air coming through. Any weather proofing or caulking should also be inspected. If the windows or frames are wood, also check the condition of the paint and look for rot or soft wood. Finally, a word about screens–while you won’t be using them in the winter, it’s not a bad idea to inspect them and have any repairs made during the months when you won’t miss them.
- Stone patios or walkways (and don’t forget the chimney)
Even if your house is not constructed of stone, you may have a slate walkway or a brick or flagstone patio. You also may have a brick chimney. Be sure to take a walk around and just look for any problems with the stone–remember, when water gets in the cracks, it makes them larger when it turns to ice and expands.
- Deck refinishing/repair
While you won’t repair or refinish a deck in the winter, the cold weather and snow can do a good deal of damage to the wood, so it’s wise to verify the deck’s condition at this point so that you are better prepared for what it may look like come spring and summer.
- Driveway resurfacing and plowing
Driveways require repaving or resurfacing every once in a while depending on your own taste. If yours is cracked or there are sunken areas or places where tree roots have created raised sections, you might want to get some quotes. Again, this project is not usually done in the winter, but the cold weather often speeds up the decaying process. As far as plowing goes, be sure to budget for a few visits each winter, unless you do your own or don’t need to have the driveway clear.
Sadly, this list is by no means exhaustive, but, rather, meant to be a starting point for thinking about general seasonal exterior maintenance. I hope it’s been helpful from a planning perspective.