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The Australian Securities & Investments Commission’s Moneysmart guide advises that older homes or those with features such as a pool or extensive landscaping may blow out maintenance costs. Buyers should consider how much to set aside every month to cover emergency repairs as a home’s running costs will affect the buyer’s return on investment.
Homeownership should be about enjoying your home, not being locked into an endless cycle of fixing, dusting, mowing and weeding. So, if you are buying or selling, looking to renovate or just want to make home life easier, here are some ideas you may find lessen the ongoing pain of keeping your home in first rate condition.
Decluttering is a good place to start your low-maintenance, high-appeal strategy. Having fewer busy-looking ornaments and frilly knick-knacks placed about the home means less time cleaning and rearranging. Minimalism is a good approach if your intention is to sell, as potential buyers having a look-through won’t be put off by objects that may be hiding dirt or damage.
Grass is greedy when it comes to hydration. Downsizing your lawn means less of your time spent watering and caring for all that turf, and more time to actually enjoy your backyard! Walkways of square pavers or granite blocks embedded in the lawn can create a delightful garden welcome. Synthetic lawns are amazingly beautiful with their lush vibrant appearance and they often have the feel of real grass. Most need only an occasional brushing or light rinse to clean. For many people, outdoor spaces have become the new living room and so less grass, more patio space, means immediate high appeal to renters looking for functional outdoor entertainment areas.
Composite woods are an ideal low-maintenance decking material as they don’t chip, splinter or fade. They are great mimics of traditional timbers. Patios made of a durable material such as exposed aggregate concrete require very little maintenance other than a periodic resealing. Today’s decorative forms of concrete not only look great but are strong and durable. Concrete can be moulded into innumerable shapes and come in an almost unlimited choice in colours, designs, textures and finishes. Exposed concrete is a skid-resistant, low-maintenance surface ideal for driveways, garden paths, pool surrounds and garages.
Once sanded down, sealed or polished, the glossy decorative products can add a ‘wow’ factor to any indoor as well as outdoor area.
Avoid thirsty non-native plant species that need ongoing fertilizing. Choose plants that prefer your local climate and soil type. Look at ways you can arrange your trees, shrubs and flowers so that they successively shade each other. Closely spaced plantings discourage weeds from sprouting. Gravel, mulch, bark and wood chips excel at keeping weeds down. Ground covers grow outwards, not upwards and mass plantings can provide a dramatic sprawling effect.
If you want to avoid having to pick up a paintbrush every second weekend then don’t waste your time or money on inferior paints. These are usually cheaper because they don’t weather as well. Quality paints contain a higher volume of the solid binder materials and give better coverage, last a long time; they even feel thick and smooth as you daub them on. And better coverage means you can finish the painting job with two coats instead of three.
Whilst durable and stain-proof, a metal benchtop will show up streaks and fingerprints and can be easily scratched. Concrete counters are considered an excellent option for countertop design. Recycled glass, stone, sea shells or marble (or other natural materials the homeowner may desire) can be added into customizable moulds of concrete. New treatments prevent cracking. Fireproof and stain-resistant, a concrete countertop can be coloured or polished back to create a uniquely ergonomic look. Natural stone is considered by many homeowners to be the holy grail of kitchen materials. One or two applications a year of sealant will protect granite and marble countertops which, because they are porous and susceptible to food stains, are expensive to repair if damaged. Granite is a popular countertop choice but, as chameleons go, quartz is quite impressive and ideal for areas that get plenty of use and abuse.
An interesting finding of a Commonwealth Bank survey undertaken a couple of years ago was that 90% of home buyers confirmed a property’s low-maintenance rating, or how easy it was to upkeep, as being the most important factor influencing their decision on whether to pass or buy. A home that demonstrates it is easy to care for will hold strong resale value. Potential buyers may feel that it’s the low-maintenance qualities that make your low-maintenance home stand out from the rest of the street.