PREPARE YOUR HOUSE FOR WINTER – simple steps to ensure that your property is well maintained and keeps dry over the winter months

Whilst driving to work this morning I saw a barn conversion with the roof and gutters covered in leaves as is extremely common at this time of year. A few simple tasks can be undertaken to prevent dampness and further deterioration to a building whether you are preparing your property for sale or just simply for your own peace of mind. Many of these works are easy to organise and inexpensive, yet can prevent much more serious problems if not attended to.

With any building, particularly in the winter, it is important to make sure that it is kept as dry as possible. Clearing leaves and debris from gutters, downpipes and drainage gullies should be undertaken and subsequently checked to ensure that they are not leaking. This is best done during a heavy rain shower to pinpoint the cause of any leak. Look for stains running down the building which is normally a “telltale” sign of a leaking gutter and of course check for any cracks or flaking paintwork in your render and windows.

It is worthwhile inspecting roofing slates to see if any are chipped or have slipped, together with flashings around chimneys, and any mineralised felt flat roofs including those on outbuildings and sheds. I recently noticed that the felt had perished on my own shed, despite not showing any signs of leaking internally and a relatively simple repair of replacing the felt will prevent any more serious damage to the timber of the shed and of course the contents.

A particular pet hate of mine is ivy on a building which can cause tremendous damage and my advice would be complete removal although sometimes this can be quite difficult depending on how long it has been there. If this is the case, cut it off near the ground and remove it once it has died off. Ivy can cause trouble to pointing, rendering and roofing if it is allowed to grow unabated. It is also worth repairing any loose pointing as again, a relatively simple repair can prevent a much more serious problem if dealt with early.

Trees are another issue and large trees should be kept away from your building and drainage points as roots can cause damage to driveways, footings and the structure of the property.

Finally, depending upon ground conditions surrounding your home, it is always worth clearing and tidying any weeds and making sure that water can run away from the base of your walls and drain into the garden rather than into your property.

Author: Jeff Cole MRICS, Chartered Surveyor and Director of Cole Rayment & White Ltd

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