Would-be retirees, take note: If you own your home in San Francisco and plan to stay there for the long term, it’s critical that you budget for maintenance and repairs.
We have many older buildings in the city that require maintenance, seismic upgrades or major repairs. And let’s face it, contractors are not inexpensive. One way to get a grip on potential future repairs is by having general home and structural pest inspections. You can then set up a schedule and ballpark costs for larger-ticket items so you can make sure you’ll be able to properly maintain your home over whatever time horizon will apply to you.
Building components that need attention on a consistent basis are:
Roof. It’s fine until you notice the water or stains on the ceiling, most notably created by the most recent storms. If it’s been more than, say, 15 years since you’ve done any maintenance or repairs, you may want to have a roofing company do a check. Periodic maintenance extends the life of the roof and can postpone a replacement.
Water heater. Most people replace their water heaters as part of an emergency situation, after they discover a flood from a rotted-out, aging water heater. Be proactive and budget for a replacement if your water heater is 10+ years old.
Siding. If you notice dry rot, that means you have siding that needs attention. And it is easily $20,000+ to rip off siding, replace and repaint it. Get a handle on the condition of your wood throughout the building, and make sure you address that kind of maintenance in a timely manner. The worse it is, the more expensive it is to fix.
Front stairs. You can’t get around replacing front steps if they’re shot. $35,000 is the going rate for a flight of stairs to the average house in San Francisco. Make sure you seal any gaps in stairs that are exposed to the elements. And get a pest inspector’s opinion on the condition of the wood underneath terrazzo or concrete.
Foundation. Buildings can go years with below-grade foundations, or major foundation issues. But you have to deal with it at some point, especially if the foundation is brick and in poor condition.
Sewer line. If you have the original clay piping, it is a sound idea to have a reputable plumbing company do what’s called a sewer lateral inspection to determine whether there are any holes in the line. Because things like tree root intrusion can cause a sewer line breakdown—and a backup in your home.
Decking. Your structural pest inspector will examine your deck to flag dry rotted areas. Major deck repairs (or replacements) are expensive, so it’s good to keep up with what’s needed.
And of course, consult your financial advisor to make sure you’re setting aside sufficient funds to maintain your home. You’ll also be maximizing your property value, as buyers will typically be more willing to pay more for a well-maintained home.