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Top tips to winter-proof your properties

With the weather taking a turn for the worse in recent weeks, buy-to-let landlords would do well to ensure their properties are winter-ready before temperatures potentially plunge to levels much colder and snowier than average for this time of year and to avoid further costs.

Given that landlords have a duty of care to tenants and a responsibility to ensure their properties are weather-proof, here are some top tips recently released by tradespeople comparison, HaMuch.com. 

This advice is designed to provide key steps enabling you to winter-proof your properties and save money in the process.

Servicing your boiler

Your boiler is your friend during winter, so top on your list should be giving it a service, which costs between £50-£100. If you need to carry out maintenance or repairs you’re looking at £80-£200.  

Meanwhile a power flush, where you remove rust and debris to clean your boiler, costs between £200-£400.

These measures are cheap as chips compared to replacing a boiler or a major part of it. In such a circumstance you could be looking at a bill of £1,750-£3,000.

That would put you off your Christmas pudding.

Check the roof

It’s also important to ensure your roof is in good shape before the cold comes in. You want to check for cracked or missing tiles, as well as other parts of the roof like the facia or soffit for damage.

Paying a professional to inspect the roof for you would cost £100-£200, while a minor roof tile replacement would only cost £50-£100. 

The worst-case scenario is cracked or missing tiles letting rain into the roof, causing damp and rot.

If that happened, you could be looking at anything from £50-£100 for a minor roof repair to £4,000 to replace the whole roof.

Clear gutters and drains 

Things like leaves and plants can clog gutters and drains and then lead to water damage, so a clear out before winter can be vital. Clearing debris costs an estimated £5 per metre. 

If you let it build up the blockage could lead to water damage and damp. 

In terms of replacements, in that situation, you’d be looking at £30 per metre for gutters or £25 per metre for downpipes.

The combination of repairs could amount to £200 upwards.

Inspect and insulate water pipes

It’s worth ensuring downpipes are not cracked or split, while you could insulate pipes to stop them from freezing, getting blocked, or busting. Adding insulation by fitting pipe jackets would cost you £50 and up.

If they ended up freezing or cracking you’d suffer leakage and water damage.

To install new pipes you’d be looking at least £200 while redecorating due to the water damage could cost you between £375-£500.

Check windows and doors

It costs around £150 for a general inspection of your windows and doors. You’re checking whether they are in disrepair, while woodwork outside should also be checked to ensure there’s no rot or damage.

If you run into a problem over winter you’d need to replace damaged or unsealed windows.

Paying for a double-glazing replacement would amount to £300 (for a 1xm1m window).

Review insulation

It’s worth checking your insulation, as the loft can lose a quarter of the property’s heat if the roof is not properly insulated.

Other forms of insulation to look at include cavity wall insulation, as well as the insulation of water tanks and pipes.

For a blanket insulation replacement, you’d be looking at just £80, which could save you money in the long run. Indeed, it could save you £250 a year if you improve the energy efficiency of your home.

Installing a full loft insulation costs between £275-£500.

Radiator checks

It’s worth checking your radiators are working, while it costs just £80 to have a plumber bleed (remove excess air from the pipes) 5-10 radiators. 

This could increase the efficiency of the radiator and remove the need for a replacement. Buying a new radiator costs around £180-£200.

The chimney

It’s worth cleaning out any obstructions or blockages with your chimney if you have a fireplace, which costs £50-£90.

Leaving it alone risks chimney fires, which can be costly and dangerous.

Owing to the varying severity of a fire it’s hard to put a figure on how much it would cost you – though it’s clearly an issue you’d want to avoid.

Tarquin Purdie, founder of HaMuch.com, said: “Prevention is so much better than a cure. 

“At this time of year it’s wise to think about mitigating the things that so often go wrong as boilers are cranked up again, fireplaces stoked, and bare pipes exposed to the rigours of winter’s elements.

“Our suggested measures are sensible precautions that householders can carry out for themselves in most instances, although you may be surprised how little a professional might charge you to carry out the checks quickly and properly. Either way, it will certainly be at a lower cost than waiting for a leaking tile or burst pipe to ruin your week and your bank balance.” 

Preventative measure Information Estimated average costs Worst-case scenario if measure not taken Potential worst-case scenario average costs

Sources

1. Boiler service Annual service and safety check Boiler service check = £50-£100; Maintenance / service repair = £80-£200; Power Flush = £200-£400 New boiler / major equipment replacement £1750 - £3000 Link Link  
2. Check roof Check for cracked or missing tiles, as well as damaged facias or soffits. The safest method for inspection is to arrange for a professional to inspect the roof for you. Roof inspection = £100-£200;              Minor roof tile replacement = £50-£100 Cracked or missing tiles can let rain into the roof, potentially causing damp and even rot. Minor roof repair = £50-100;                 Small roof repair = £150-200;                Large roof repairs = £300 per day;       Facia / soffit replacement = £1750;       Full roof tile replacement = £4000 Link Link  
3. Clear gutters and drains Leaves, plants, and other debris can clog gutters and drains, which can lead to water damage. A clear out before winter is vital. Cleaning debris = £5 per metre Build up of water due to blockage can lead to water damage and damp Replacement gutters = £30 per metre; Downpipe replacement = £25 per metre; Combination of repairs = £200 upwards Link    
4. Inspect / insulate water pipes Ensure downpipes are not cracked or split. Insulate pipes to stop them from freezing and avoids blockages and burst pipes. Insulation / fitting pipe jackets = £50 upwards Frozen pipes and cracking, thus leading to leakage and water damage New pipes / plumbing = £200 upwards; Redecoration due to water damage = £375-£500 and upwards Link Link  
5. Check windows and doors Doors and windows that are in a poor state of repair can let in cold air and rain water. Woodwork outside should also be checked for rot and damage. General inspection / survey = £150 Eventual need for replacement of damaged / unsealed windows Double glazing window replacement = £300 (average for a 1mx1m window) Link    
6. Review insulation Appropriate insulation can reduce heat loss, thus conserving energy and reducing energy bills. The loft can lose a quarter of heat through the roof if it is not properly insulated. Other forms of insulation to consider include, cavity wall insulation, as well as the insulation of water tanks and pipes. Blanket insulation replacement = £80 Heat loss - higher household energy bills - lower efficiency (potential saving of £250 on annual energy bill) Full loft insulation = £275-£500 Link    
7. Check radiators Check radiators for any leaks and bleed them to ensure efficiency Radiator check and bleeding by plumber = £80 (5-10 radiators) Radiator inefficiency / the need for replacement Replace standard radiator = £180-£200 Link Link Link
8. Inspect / clean chimney Clear out any obstructions or blockages - ensure the good running of fireplace - annual check and service Clean chimney = £50-£90 Risks of chimney fires can be costly and dangerous Fire risk / damage = £ unknown Link    
 

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