Home Maintenance – How To Prioritize And Get It Done

Anyone who’s ever owned, rented, or lived in a home knows that home maintenance can seem like an endless and expensive job. Don’t let it get on top of you, though. The trick is to make a plan. Sit down and prioritize that long, long “honey-do” list of household chores, deciding which ones you urgently want to turn into “honey-done,” which can wait a while, and which you can happily kick over to the “honey-don’t-bother” category. Here’s a handy way to go about it -- slot each item into the appropriate spot on our 5-tier ranking system: 1) urgent, 2) potentially urgent, 3) necessary, 4) recommended, and 5) fuggedaboutit. Once you decide just how important the task is, you’ll have an easier time getting it done (or letting it go).

1. Urgent

When you wake up on a January morning and the results of an overnight snowfall are blocking your front door, it’s obviously not the time to start on your basement decluttering project. Your priority -- shoveling a path to the street so you can get out of the house and get yourself to work – is crystal clear. Ditto if you find that your electric panel is suddenly shooting sparks or you receive a stern order from your homeowners’ insurance provider to remove the moss from your roof ASAP. Prioritizing these tasks is a non-brainer; they need to be tackled on the double.

2. Potentially Urgent

Pay attention to the drip, drip, drip (or ceiling stains, musty odor, or underfoot dampness) of a water leak. Whether it stems from rain coming through a hole in the roof, a crack in your house foundation, or a plumbing problem, a leak will never go away just because you choose to ignore it. Instead, it will get worse – sometimes frighteningly fast – causing water damage which may threaten not just your paint job, your bathroom tile, and/or your possessions, but the very structure of your house. Track down the source of the leak if you can and have it repaired it promptly.   

Another potentially urgent problem is trees and bushes that are dead, diseased, or simply located too close to your house. One good windstorm and bam! Your landscaping could seriously damage your house. Before that can happen, for heaven’s sake get them properly pruned.

3. Necessary

Every change of season brings along with it certain routine maintenance tasks, like a tune-up of your heating and cooling equipment … or carting the patio furniture out of storage. In addition, regular cleaning is important to keep your home a healthy and attractive retreat. These can be considered necessary but not totally top priority. Apart from that, there are a number of one-time home maintenance tasks that are important, though not immediately urgent. Here’s a “for instance”: you probably own more electronic devices now than your grandparents ever dreamed of. Yet if your house was built back in their day, chances are that your electrical panel is overtaxed and an electrical upgrade is in order. 

4. Recommended

To paint or not to paint? Well, painting a room or two of your home is not the type of decision that will shake the earth … but it might substantially improve your mood. (No more vanilla walls! Hurray!) Your personal comfort and sense of wellbeing aren't factors to be sneezed at. Other examples of the many, many home improvements which are not absolutely essential but certainly recommended might include: minor gardening to increase curb appeal for a home up for sale; creating window treatments for privacy and sounder sleep; installing child-height hooks to encourage your kids to keep their clothes tidy (and take some of the burden off you).

5. Fuggedaboutit 

This is an extremely flexible category, depending on you and your home style. Toss into it all the tasks that a long-ago neighbor of mine used to call “bleaching your corners” – whatever isn’t illegal, unsafe, or positively dangerous to your family’s health or happiness. Then feel free to forget about them for now, maybe forever.

Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.

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