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Health and safety

Don’t put off property repairs

Cash-strapped lessees are putting off essential maintenance works on their properties and risk creating a maintenance time bomb, says Michael New

been asked by lessees to delay essential repairs in the past 18 months, as they struggle to make ends meet. this means a backlog of jobs that could be turning from simple tasks, fixed quickly for small amounts, into major repairs costing tens of thousands of pounds. Worryingly, at a time when every penny counts, many of those spending


cash on their homes are shelling out on the wrong jobs that just paper over the cracks, instead of looking at underlying work that keeps the property standing. Landlords are keeping costs down by opting for cosmetic jobs

to make the property look attractive. A quick lick of paint and some wallpaper may give an immediate lift but without checking what lies beneath that could be an expensive mistake. There is an increasing trend for people to deal with smaller jobs them-

selves and put off bigger jobs. Looking after cosmetic things and finishing touches, rather than structural problems, is fruitless and could end up costing an awful lot of money. Water damage is a major problem. Leaving water running down the face of a property from a leaking roof or guttering can be catastrophic. It could cause moisture problems – and unattended that can generate dry and wet rot which will cost a fortune to put right.

Don’t be a DIY disaster

If you are carrying out repairs around your home, make sure you don’t put yourself in danger by following Flat Living’s simple safety tips. • Plan your DIY job before you start and allow enough time to get it done. Make sure you have the right tools for the job and don’t use tools that are broken or need repairing.

• Read the instructions and heed safety warnings, especially if you are using tools/equipment for the first time.

• Keep water away from power tools and electrical appliances and use a circuit breaker.

• Protect yourself by wearing appropriate clothing and footwear. Tie back long hair and take off your jewellery. Wear sensible shoes and never work in bare feet.

• If you are painting, or using any product that gives off fumes or dust, keep the windows open.

• Beware of old paint which can give off poisonous dust. Don’t burn off or rub down with dry sandpaper or a power sander. Always

wear a mask, keep small children away from the area in which you are working and clean up properly afterwards.

• Don’t forget that Artex and textured paint can contain asbestos – always wear a mask and take advice if you suspect asbestos is present.


necdotal evi- dence suggests that almost a third of property managers have

With water problems it is absolutely essential the affected area is dried out and treated properly to prevent it spreading and creating havoc.” A burst pipe or a flooded drain leaking into a roof compartment will

result in an average £1,450 worth of damage, but serious issues such as subsidence, damp and foundation problems can be caused just by water left gathering around a property over a period of time. “People may not notice a missing roof tile as they don’t often look

above ground level on their home. It’s a good idea to give your property the once-over or ask an expert for maintenance advice,” adds Michael. As well as ignoring important tasks, those looking to do things on

the cheap are tackling jobs themselves – often with disastrous results. For example, a Santander survey carried out in 2010 revealed that up to £331 million is wasted on DIY disasters each year. While hanging wallpaper upside-down or spilling paint on the carpet may be costly and irritating, there are some real dangers lurking. When it comes to electrics or major construction work, you really

must call in the experts. Regulations now mean it is illegal to carry out electrical work unless you are a government-approved electrician. The key is to nip things in the bud before they become serious.

Your home is the biggest investment you will make and it’s vital you maintain it. What you can’t do is simply hope that problems go away by themselves. Maintenance never sorts itself out without intervention. Always ensure the contractor you appoint to do work on your

property is qualified and insured to carry out the maintenance work you have contracted them to do. Most property managers should be able to recommend or help in this matter.

Michael New Operations Manager, ProTech Property Solutions

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