The list every homeowner needs

When Mel and Shan Hearse decided it was time to tackle 10 years of neglect around their heritage home, it was “The List” that made it happen.

When we bought our 1912 heritage listed cottage, it was in good condition – the paint was fresh, the main part of the roof new, the kitchens and bathrooms in good working order with a relatively modern look, and the lawns and gardens were flourishing.

Fast forward 10 years, two kids, four dogs (not all at the same time) a lot of entertaining, part-time jobs, launching a business and generally just getting through the early years of raising children, maintenance had fallen through the cracks, and it was starting to show.

The fence needed paint and nails, the exteriors needed painting, the lawn replaced (two of the four dogs loved to dig.) Indoors, we needed to paint the walls, repair the ceiling where an earlier neglect to empty the gutters saw water flood into the living room ceiling. We had remodelled the bathroom at one stage to allow for the growing family, but even that needed some work with a faulty ceiling light and loose tap to fix. None of it was urgent, but there was a lot of it, and it was getting worse, not better.

One weekend we decided it was time to dig in. We spent three hours achieving very little and felt overwhelmed. On Sunday evening, we were sitting on our porch talking about the size of the project and realised we needed to write a list of every teeny tiny fix that was required. Front gate to back. No detail too small.

Once completed (four pages if you’re curious), we argued once more – how do we organise it? I thought room by room was important, as was the estimated cost. Shannon thought it better to organise it by project size and trades involved, versus DIY. In the end, we opted for a spreadsheet we could sort by whichever criteria was most important at the time (for example – pulling a list of tradie jobs together so we could organise a few jobs in one booking was a money and time saver, while being able to tackle a 10-minute job here and there after school was also useful.) We could also see at a glance what big jobs we planned to DIY and could make sure we had the tools and materials required ahead of the weekend.

We also set a goal. Six months later marked our joint 40th birthdays, so we decided to have as much knocked off the list as possible for the party at our house. It gave us a way to break the jobs down again to make sure we’d achieve it all in time.

The experts agree

There can be significant savings in making sure you have created a complete scope of work, says Chad Loxsom, spokesperson for Hipages and Just Screw It. “It allows you to prioritise the things that are most important to you,” he says.

It can also help motivate you through the beginning – and daunting stages. “There might be a number of smaller items that don’t cost a lot but will bring big results. Getting these items out of the way will give you a sense of accomplishment without spending a fortune,” says Chad.

A master list also means less call out fees from tradies if you group similar jobs and planning ahead can also mean avoiding lengthy delays. Most trades are really busy, and Noelene Cason, from Interiors by Cason says being able to plan ahead and book in blocks means avoiding paying more for travel and waiting on availability.

We still keep the list going

Even though we met our deadline in the nick of time and everything looked all shiny and fabulous at the party, we’ve since kept the list going to avoid having it build up to the same degree again.

“By staying up-to-date with normal maintenance, you save money in the long run by not having to do major renovations because of unattended leaks, rotting timber, neglected painting – the list goes on,” Chad says.

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