A springtime check-up for the house

When spring arrives, every home owner should make a habit of checking that the railings are safe and the paintwork intact, and then carry out any necessary repairs.

Over the course of the winter, frost and storms pose a real risk to buildings. Now is the right time to identify any possible damage and safeguard the long-term value of your property.

Many home owners will still be having sleepless nights thinking about “Kyrill”. This was the name of the cyclone that swept across Europe in 2007, leaving a trail of destruction in its wake. Although we were fortunate enough to be spared such hurricane-force winds this winter, areas in the southern part of Germany had to deal with massive amounts of snow that threatened the stability of roofs. The affected households must now be wondering whether their tiles, gutters and seals still remain completely intact.

But weather doesn’t need to be extreme as this to harm our homes: structural damage can result from the normal temperature differences between summer and winter, or from simple exposure to wind, rain, moss and leaves. It only takes a few hours of inspection work at the weekend to ensure that a small crack doesn’t lead to serious water damage, or that a clump of leaves in the gutter doesn’t cause it to overflow. There are the areas you need to be looking at:

Roof: Have any tiles been lifted or moved by windy weather? Is the metal flashing around the chimney or dormer in a satisfactory condition? Are there any cracks in the roof cladding? This can usually be checked with the aid of binoculars. If any areas are difficult to access, however, it’s advisable to have these inspected by a roofing contractor. On flat roofs, examine the felt carefully to identify any cracks. Remove any moss you may find, and that goes for the garage roof as well.

Lightning conductor: Is it still securely attached to the ridge of the roof or dormer?

Gutters and downpipes: Remove leaves and dirt and check for damage or rust.

Façade: Are there any cracks in the plaster? Do any areas sound hollow when you tap on them? Is the paint peeling off anywhere? Is the mortar deteriorating in facing brickwork? These are danger signs that require inspection by a building professional. Are there are marks to indicate water is running down the façade? These can point to roof or gutter damage.

Solar and photovoltaic panels: Clean the panels to allow them to operate more efficiently.

Windows and doors: Check for cracks, and pay special attention to the seals on the weather-facing sides. Repair any small cracks in the paint to ensure they don’t spread.

Rolling and folding shutters: Examine the guide tracks and seals. Oil any hinges.

Railings: Shake balcony or patio railings firmly to check their stability. Examine the paintwork and, if possible, make any repairs immediately.

Cellar wells: Clean and ensure they remain secure against intruders.

Patio covering and garden paths: Inspect for raised edges and remove any moss.

Trees: Check for possible storm damage. Remove any cracked branches (or ask a professional to do so).

If you perform a regular springtime check-up and fix any damage immediately, you won’t face a backlog of renovation work (and higher repair costs) further down the line. Should you identify more extensive damage, it’s a good time of the year to get an estimate from a professional contractor (or several comparison bids). It leaves enough time to have the repairs completed before more severe weather returns in autumn.

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