Useful Tips for Property Care and Maintenance (Part 1)

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We understand as an insurance company that your property is an important investment. We have put together a property maintenance guide to give you some handy tips on how you can take better care of your property, and avoid unnecessary inconvenience.

It is important that you inspect your property on a regular basis and look at for any signs where items may need repair or replacing. If you carry out regular inspections it is a great way to look after your investment. You should be looking at the roof, security locks, drains, piping, bathrooms, ceilings, walls, floors, electric & gas, stairs, gardens, windows and doors as well as outbuildings.

The roof is an essential part of the property and should be checked at least once a year.

Guttering on the roof is always susceptible to certain blockages such as debris, leaves and moss and should be cleared on a regular basis.

Roof flashings to joints should be maintained and also inspected. You will find in most insurance policies that roofs are communal referred to as a standard construction, which is normally tiles, slate or concrete materials. All other type of materials are considered on a policy as nonstandard and you might find that restrictions apply. This may normally be a flat roof where there is asphalt.

You should make sure that you check for all blockages in your rain water pipes. Any gutters that have debris in should be cleared out immediately. You should inspect the flashings and joints around the chimneys, vents and skylights for any signs of loosening, separation or danger of leaks. You should also look out for holes, broken, cracked, lose or missing tiles or slates. When checking the guttering, also make sure you check to see if the roof is depressed i.e. has any form of sink in it. A roof over a period of time deteriorate so it is important that you check this. One slightly displaced tile or slate might look minor but it a good sign that the roof might need some form of maintenance.

All roofs must be checked often for any signed of damage or ‘wear and tear’. Some roofs are more susceptible to this than others such as flat roofs, thatched and timber, corrugated or galvanised iron.

This is extremely important when it comes to flat roofs that are often valuable to leaks and even total collapse. These should be inspected often and any repair should be carried out as a matter of urgency. During the winter the weight of any snow build up is important on these types of roofs. It is recommended that professional inspection takes place at least in every 3 years. This condition is often a requirement from your insurers, please see your policy.

When checking the roof you should look out for moss growth or any other signs of dampness on the roof its self.

It is often a mistake for property owners to avoid for maintenance unless a leak occurs. Leaks are a virtual certainty on neglected roofs and can cause significant damage before they are discovered. It is the property owner’s responsibility to maintain the roof in a good working order. You may find that insurers are reluctant to pay claims for leaks that appear as a result of a roof being in a poor state of repair. It is therefore important that you check these.

Attics and Lofts.

You should make sure that an attic/loft is well ventilated to prevent the appearance of any mould, fungus, moisture or dampness. Ventilation and insulation are important considerations.

Ventilation is all about your property being able to draw in warm air from the living space below. Then allowing this air to pass out through the loft. A combination of vents from living spaces into the loft, then a vent leading out of the loft, will help create an air flow. This will prevent your property becoming damp. Look out for condensation on a roof in the attic, this could be a sign of poor ventilation.

Insulation may already be in the loft but is a critical importance. If it has been a long time since you last checked the state of your insulation, or it you have not checked it since purchasing your property then you should do so. Pipes or tanks exposed in winter where the temperature is low in the attic are vulnerable to freezing and bursting. This could cause untold damage throughout your property. If you have pipes and tanks in the attic, it is advisable that you insulate them from the freezing temperatures. This can either be done with insulation in the roof around the pipes or tanks. Or with insulation in lagging applied directly.

Walls are or usually of a standard construction mainly of brick, stone or concrete. You will be asked to identify this when dealing with your insurance policy. Cover is available for all types of construction and these should be checked with your insurer as there may be more specific requirements or, terms and condition associated with them. Please don’t hesitate to contact us in this regard.

Damp stains, rising damp, white salt on the walls, flaking paintwork, mould, rot and fungus are all signs the property is in need of repair.

You should check for dampness in the walls, signs of mould, condensation in the air and the smell of dampness. Look out for lines or damp stains along the skirting board, rising damp, rotting skirting’s or floor boards, white salts on the walls, or paint work that is flaking.

You should be wary of any damp patches that might appear regularly, but are not constantly there. Or visible dampness with water on the walls. Should cracks appear in the mortar, bricks and joints or anywhere across the walls, this might indicate subsidence. You should speak to your insurer in this regard.

It is important that any problems are rectified furtherly before any redecoration takes place. Simply decorating on top of the problem area could make things worse in the long term.

Floors and Skirting Boards.

The most common types of flooring found in properties are lino, vinyl, wooden, tiles, concrete, carpets, ceramic flooring, stone and glass, tile, marble and laminate.

All these are susceptible to moisture and damp build up under them. You are recommended to look out for any rising floors, damp smells, wood worm and any termite damage as well as broken or lose floor boards.

Doors and Windows.

Rotten windows, door frames and door edges are all common problems of traditional doors and wooden sash windows. You should be sure to check these at least once a year for any signs of damage from the elements. Any cracks should be dealt with immediately to prevent water and cold air getting in into your property.

Damaged doors and windows might also become and invitation for vermin to get into the property and often creates a security risk. You should make sure that all hinges are securely tighten on all frames.
Security.

It is an important condition of all insurances that you take all reasonable steps to avoid any loss or damage to the property. You should follow basic security guidelines.

You should ensure your tenants do not leave keys under mats, inside letter boxes or anywhere else they can be easily found. They should use door and window protections when they leave their home unattended, day or night, and remove the keys from the locks.

Any tenants and permitted occupants should be advised on security measures. They must take measures for basic protection of the property.

All opening sections of the basement, ground floor or easily accessible windows, which can be entered without using ladders or props, should be fitted with key operated locks.

Locks identified as being suitable for external use must be fitted at all times. Recommended types of locks are such as;

5 Lever Mortice Deadlocks
‘Hook’ Bolt lock or Patio Anti Lift device
Night latches, also refer as yale locks, should be used in connections with deadlocks
Multipoint locks

The same can be said for window locks as follows;

UPVC/PVCU locks
Locking handles
Sash Jammer lock
Dual screw lock
ERA Transom lock
Aluminium Casement lock
Snap lock and Swing lock
Multipurpose Bolt

Please click here for Part 2.

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