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Housing

Home Maintenance - Advice and Guidance


Your home is your greatest asset - don't take it for granted!

Your home is out in all weathers, 24 hours per day.  Buildings get old and components wear out. Regular maintenance will help you keep your home in good shape.

3 Steps to looking after your home:

1. Get to know your home:

  •  What type of building is it?
  • What kind of roof does it have -- pitched or flat? Does it have slates or tiles?
  • Do you know where the stop cock is in case of flooding?
  • Where is the fuse box?

2. Check your home regularly for defects:

  • Keep an eye on your house at all times - identifying a problem early can save you time and money.
  • Do regular maintenance checks of the building, especially in spring (this gives you all summer to do any work needed) and in autumn (to make sure your home is protected against the winter weather).

3. Do regular maintenance and tackle repairs before they get serious:

  • You don't have to do all the work at once, but repairs to the chimney and roof and any faults which are causing damp patches should be dealt with urgently.

Here are some areas you should check:

Outside

  • Walls
    • Look for cracks in brickwork, stonework and rendered walls such as pebble dash, as well as crumbling bricks or mortar. Major cracks and large areas of damaged wall need expert repair.
    • Make sure airbricks are kept clear of earth and leaves. Earth or paving should be at least six inches below floor level and should slope away from the house.
  • Doors and Windows
    • Look for missing mastic or cement seals around windows and doors.
    • Look for rot or corrosion, missing putty and flaking paint, particularly in window frames (gentle prodding with a knife blade or screwdriver). Wood repair may need skilled carpentry.
  • Chimneys
    • Look for broken chimney pots, cracked or worn brickwork, loose or missing pointing (the mortar between the bricks), loose flashings (the lead or zinc strips or cement sealing the joints between the chimney stack and the roof)
  • Roofs
    • Look for missing, slipped or broken tiles or slates, and damaged or torn coverings to flat roofs.
  • Gutters
    • Look for blockages (which you may be able to clear yourself), and cracks in the gutters.
  • Pipes
    • Check for leaks in pipes and hopper heads. Particularly check for holes and cracks behind pipes - these may not be very noticeable, but they can be a cause of damp walls inside the house. Deal with dripping overflow pipes.

Inside

  • Central Heating
    • Check radiators, release air if necessary. Clear out air grilles. Boilers should be serviced by specialists every summer.
  • Electrics
    • Check for damaged or loose cables. If fuses fail often or if a plug tops feel hot, call in a qualified electrician. Arrange for your house wiring to be tested every five years.
  • The Roof Space
    • Look for signs of leaks through slates, tiles or roof lining (if there is one). Make sure that timbers are free from damp and woodworm; check that pipes and tanks are fully lagged. Loft Insulation should be at least 300mm (12”) thick.
  • Floors
    • Check for undue springiness. This could mean rotting or weakened joists. Check skirting for rot or woodworm.
  • Damp Patches
    • Patches of damp on walls or ceilings could have various causes.
    • Look for:
      • Leaking tanks, radiators, or pipes in the roof or floor spaces
      • Leaking rain water pipes and gutters, cracked, loose or missing pointing in the bricks outside.
      • Condensation -- do bathrooms and kitchens have good ventilation?
      • Rising Damp -- a low level tide mark may indicate a defective damp proof course, low level patches may mean that the damp course is covered by earth outside.
  • Windows and Outside Doors
    • Make sure they open and close properly. Check draught excluders and locks and catches

Getting Advice

  • Money
    • You may be eligible for financial assistance for property repairs – contact Housing Services or see our web page on Financial Assistance for Property Repairs or contact the Revival Home Improvement Agency for more information. Otherwise, talk to your Bank or Building Society.
  • Finding a Good Builder
    • Finding a reliable contractor to carry out any work is vital - or your home and your wallet are likely to suffer the consequences.
    • Finding good builders may not be easy. Finding someone to do smaller jobs may be especially difficult.
    • Ask friends and neigbhours.  Look in the Yellow Pages under the National Council of Roofing Contractors, the Institute of Plumbing and the National Inspection Council for Electrical Installation Contracting.
    • To find a member of the Federation of Master Builders, visit their website at www.findabuilder.co.uk
    • Staffordshire Trading Standards have set up a ‘Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent Trader Register’ and can offer advice and support in selecting a suitable contractor.  You can visit their website at www.traderregister.org.uk  or telephone 01785 330888
  • Avoiding Cowboys
    • Be wary of doorstep salesmen who claim to have noticed a problem and offer to fix it for a very cheap (often cash) sum.
    • Headed paper which displays no address or land line telephone number - only a mobile - is another tell-tale sign.
    • Try to get at least three written quotes or estimates - this will give you a good idea what work is involved and how much it should cost.
    • Never make ‘up-front’ payments.

If it is a Bigger or More Serious Project

  • You may need an architect or a surveyor to help you.
  • If you don't know of one, ask the Royal Institute of British Architects or the Royal Institution of Chartered Surveyors

Further advice

You can get advice on home repairs and maintenance from the:

  • The Council’s  Housing Services team - Telephone 01782 742543
  • Revival Home Improvement Agency & Handyperson Service - Telephone 01782 749202
  • The Citizens Advice Bureau at Newcastle - Telephone 0870 126 4049
  • Staffordshire & Stoke on Trent Trader Register -  Telephone 01785 330888

 A leaflet is also available from the Council offices

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