For first-time homebuyers, home maintenance can initially seem overwhelming. It’s often presented as a major caveat to buying a home: for those used to renting, this might be their first time caring for a property. Truthfully, there’s a lot to home maintenance, and it is important. However, it doesn’t have to be overwhelming, or even require you to become a handy, do-it-yourself genius. By breaking up everything that needs to get done throughout the year, setting an effective budget, and then prioritizing the most important projects first, you can make home upkeep a whole lot easier on yourself and your home.

To get even more ideas and inspiration for your home maintenance calendar, be sure to take a look at this new infographic from Reimer Home Services, a Buffalo heating and cooling company. It has upkeep tips for every season of the year!

Set aside a budget for home maintenance

There’s an old rule-of-thumb that homeowners should set aside at least 1% of their home’s value for maintenance, upkeep, and repairs. If your home is worth $400,000, that means you should save $4,000 annually. This isn’t an exact science: home value is connected, but not directly linked, to square footage, and many homeowners in less expensive areas could end up under-saving using this method. However, it’s a good starting point, and you can adjust your budget as the years go by and you get to know your home’s upkeep needs a little better.

Plan out the work by season

Realistically, you won’t be able to complete all your home’s maintenance projects in one season, and it doesn’t make sense to, anyway. Some upkeep work is a better fit for certain seasons: you probably won’t get much yard work done on the hottest days of summer, after all. Take everything that needs to be done in and around your home and break it up by season, taking into account the weather outside and other conditions. If you’re planning on working with a professional—such as scheduling your AC and heating tune-ups—book those ahead of time so that the work gets done before hot or cold weather arrives.

Remember: home maintenance isn’t an exact science, and nobody’s perfect. You might not get around to washing your windows in the spring, and that’s okay. If you’re pressed for time or money, just make sure you focus on the essentials: caring for your roof, pipes, foundation, and HVAC systems. Everything else, from yard work to painting the inside of your home, can wait until next season.

Save a rainy day fund

If and when you’re able, increase your home maintenance budget by another percentage point or two to start building a “rainy day” savings fund for your home. While preventative maintenance and thorough upkeep can help you avoid many, many problems in your home, you can’t plan for or prevent everything. But, if you have a reserved fund set aside for emergencies, you can at least reduce the stress that comes with a damaged roof, a leaking pipe, or a cracked sewer line.

Finances are only half the battle when it comes to preparing for a future home emergency. The other is fast action: most home problems only get worse as time goes on. After all, a leaking pipe isn’t going to fix itself! Our recommendation, in addition to saving ahead of time, is to vet out several experienced and trustworthy plumbers, electricians, HVAC specialists, and roofers in your area, so that you know who to call in a pinch. Take note of any that offer “emergency service”—generally, that means they’ll be able to help you on nights, weekends, and holidays.

Start by building your home’s maintenance calendar

While there are many season-by-season maintenance calendars out there, there’s no one-size-fits-all approach that is going to be an exact fit for your home. After all, homeowners in Southern California have very different things to think about than those in the Midwest or Northeast! We recommend you find a place to start and then make adjustments to maintenance depending on your community and climate.

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