New Home Maintenance Timeline

How fast does a new home deteriorate?

The answer is much faster than you think!

Your new home needs maintenance
Welcome to your new home! Now get to work…

A brand, new home is truly a wonderful thing. It’s all yours! No other human has ever lived there. Everything from the kitchen to the garage is fresh and clean and shiny. Doors and windows work smoothly, and the paint is still clean and free of marks. Even the cabinets are empty and waiting for your things to arrive.

False security: New homes need maintenance too!

Along with a fresh smell, the new house also brings to the new owners a fresh feeling of confidence and security. Like a new car. You are certain nothing can go wrong now. After all, everything around you is new. And it has a warranty. Right?

Actually no!  This line of thinking is a big mistake.

Deterioration starts early

Your new home is largely an organic entity, so even before it was completed things were starting to go south.  Wood was beginning to lose moisture and shrink. Some timbers were beginning to twist or crack. More than a few bugs, including termites and other organisms were already finding a home in your new structure.

How do I know that? I know these things because this is my business. I witness these goings-on all the time. But rather than lecture you with anecdotal truths, I’ve decided instead to document and report the deterioration of my own “new home”. A kind of case study in attrition and chaos theory.

A case study 

To document how even a new home needs maintenance, I’ll perform regular inspections and record all the things that I find going wrong. I’ll then report them to you by posting them on this website. I’ll include images and even tell you the things that went right. In addition, I’ll also report on why it happened, describe the various repairs needed and report the cost in both time and money.

We finished our new custom home in October 2017.  Me, my wife, and our dog Bella moved in just in time to have our first Thanksgiving dinner in the home. We were ecstatic to say the least… especially after two years of planning and construction.

At this point, I think some context about the construction of my home is important.  First, I built my house with durability in mind. I hired the best contractor and designer in the area. They in turn hired and supervised the best support team and subcontractors. We also used top quality materials. Not exotic materials, just top quality. Then we carefully selected where to use them to maximize durability and ease of maintenance.

Quality and durability

 Everyone on our build team did their best to produce a home that would last for ages. And the completed home is a jewel. It has won a number of awards for excellence including the Peoples Choice and Best Home awards from its entry into the home builders show in 2018. It also won an award for the best driveway paving in the state of Oregon for 2018.

I think you will be as surprised as I have been at how many things have needed attention despite all the planning and effort. Some fails were quite major and expensive. Also notable is that the first twenty six items all occurred in the first 22 months that we lived in the home. I think it will be an interesting study.

Follow along

If you are already signed up with www.homepreservationmanual.comto receive our checklists or newsletters you will get automatic notifications as more items are found. Please sign in if you have not done so. Or simply check back often to see how things are going! 

…and DON’T ignore your home every. Even a brand new home needs maintenance!

Chronology of issues:

Move In

October 15, 2017

Move In

Inspection discovers a stucco crack

January 15, 2018

Inspection discovers a stucco crack

The first thing to fail was a large 6’ long horizontal crack in the stucco on the front of the home. We reviewed construction photos and found no reason for the crack. The contractor removed the entire area of stucco and redid the work. It has been fine since. N/C

Roof protection tape

January 25, 2018

Roof protection tape

New metal roofing comes with a blue protective plastic coat to keep it from scratching during installation. By the time the material for the barn was installed it had been sitting for nearly a year. When the clean-up crew tried to remove the protection, it would not come off.  Half of the barn roof was replaced N/C

Inspection discovers a failed IGU

March 14, 2018

Inspection discovers a failed IGU

During the first winter we discovered that the insulated glazing unit (IGU) of the center kitchen window had failed. Pella replaced the unit at no charge.

Inspection discovers the main line from septic tank to leach field has failed

April 24, 2018

Line appears to have had a weak glue joint in the line. This would not have been found without an inspection that noted the excessive moisture on the ground. Original contractor makes repair at no charge.

Change air filters

April 24, 2018

Scheduled change of filters 2x/year for two furnace air-handlers. Cost: ½ man hour plus $75 for four filters.

Housekeeper reports problem with vacuum hose:

June 15, 2018

Housekeeper reports problem with vacuum hose:

Hose will not retract into the wall as designed. Turns out this was caused by housekeeper not understanding how to work the system properly. Subcontractor trains housekeeper and makes repair at no charge.

Window cleaning difficulty

June 20, 2018

Window cleaners report that high windows require scaffold to clean safely. We strike a deal with the window washing firm to clean/dust/inspect the entire upper ceiling area (exposed beams, large fan, window-sills, etc.) at same time that windows are cleaned in order to get full use from the scaffold cost. Upper reaches of the home would not otherwise get needed attention. The first inspection reveals peeling paint, spider nests and webs and heavy accumulations of dust. The peeling paint was touched up by original contractor at no charge. Cost added for scaffold and other cleaning: $350

Change water and air filters

October 24, 2018

Scheduled change of air filters 2x/year, and water filters 1x/year. Cost: 1.5 man hours and $251 for filters (one of our water filters is expensive)

Inspection finds batteries missing in the fireplaces

February 26, 2019

Inspection finds batteries missing in the fireplaces

An extended power outage left the house without heat. Attempts to start the fireplaces failed and it was discovered that the back-up batteries had not been installed. Cost: ½ hour labor plus eight AA batteries $6.

Snow Damage

February 27, 2019

Snow Damage

Inspection finds snow collapsed a tree onto the wood fence shattering a post and breaking four redwood fence boards. New boards were installed by homeowner. Cost: 3 man hours and $100 fence rail material

Snow bends the gutters

March 3, 2019

Unusually heavy snowfall had accumulated on the roof for a week. As it melted and slid off, parts of the perimeter roof gutters were damaged. This has not yet been repaired.

Inspection reveals that snow/cold has killed three cacti in the landscape

April 15, 2019

These will not be replaced as we will have cold weather again and feel this particular  plant would not hold up well.

Inspection finds that the main barn sliding door is stuck

April 15, 2019

Inspection finds that the main barn sliding door is stuck

Homeowner adjusted the door hardware and to prevent dragging and door works fine. Cost: 2 hours labor

inspection finds that one of the window frames in the kitchen is delamination on the exterior

April 17, 2019

We reported this to our contractor who determined it to be a factory defect.  The window manufacturer has agreed to repair. Unfortunately the window is a small cost as the window will need to be ordered (six weeks), the old window must be carefully removed and the new window installed with patching to blend into existing finishes. This is no easy job as the existing window abuts to marble in the interior and is surrounded by stucco on the exterior. Heavily inconvenient, we have no cost data yet.

Change air filters

April 24, 2019

Scheduled change of filters 2x/year for two furnace air-handlers. Cost: ½ man hour plus $75 for four filters.

Window cleaning firm finds spiders up high in beams on both interior and exterior

June 15, 2019

Window cleaning firm finds spiders up high in beams on both interior and exterior

These are difficult to see or clean from below. Contractor agrees to clean and dispense a spider insecticide. Cost: $150

Inspection finds that hall closet shelves have collapsed

June 30, 2019

The pins holding an upper shelf came out of their pockets and allowed the top shelf to fall onto the shelf below starting a chain reaction. There was nothing stored in the closet yet and no damage was done. Contractor has agreed to repair at no cost.

Inspection discovers that the stain has failed at entry exterior wood beams structure

June 30, 2019

Inspection discovers that the stain has failed at entry exterior wood beams structure

This area takes full sun most of the day. The beams are equipped with metal top shields to prevent rot and damage from above. Failed stain means the expensive wood material is susceptible to deteriorating sun and rain damage. The entry beams were recoated with several coats of matching stain. Cost: $3500

Inspection discovers that the dead cactus reported earlier has come back to life and is sporting new growth!

June 30, 2019

Inspection reveals that an LED downlight had quit working in the entry beam system

June 30, 2019

This has yet to be replaced. We estimate an hour of electrician time and a new fixture approx. $250

Inspection revealed that the runs for the three horse stalls are not draining properly

July 15, 2019

Inspection revealed that the runs for the three horse stalls are not draining properly

An analysis of the material shows us that the wrong type sand was used. We had specified a large grain, washed, river sand. The material delivered was a crushed, softer material that breaks down quickly under horse pressure and clogs up the drain system.  We do not know who caused the mistake. The sand was removed and replaced with proper material.  Cost: $4200

Inspection finds that mites have killed a small tree planted a year earlier as part of the landscape project

August 16, 2019

Inspection finds that mites have killed a small tree planted a year earlier as part of the landscape project

The tree was removed immediately to prevent spread of the mites. A new tree will be found for the spot. Cost: Labor 1.5 hours plus tree budget of $250.

Inspection finds that the finish has failed on half dozen exterior sconce lights

August 16, 2019

These are out of warranty and will need to be replaced. Cost: $1200

Inspection reveals that the horses have chewed on some posts in their stall runs

August 16, 2019

Note: All posts and wood surfaces have been protected by aluminum angle iron. In these areas the clever horse has found a way to get to the back side of two unprotected areas.  A long reach. The repair is minor and will leave as is in honor of the great effort expended to get to this exposed wood.

Inspection notes that caulking has failed along trim areas at the barn siding above and below the large side windows

August 16, 2019

Inspection notes that caulking has failed along trim areas at the barn siding above and below the large side windows

If not found early this is an area that could develop rot. Any failed caulking must be replaced immediately while the weather is hot and dry. Cost: 2 hrs labor and $45 material.

Inspection shows that the paint/stain on the big rear patio beams has failed just as it did earlier on the front beams

August 16, 2019

These are under a roof protection so they have lasted longer than the front entry stain, but will still need to be done soon.


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HomePreservationManual.com is the place to visit if you want information on

  • maintaining your home
  • how to improve air quality
  • ways to improve the real value of your home
  • what are the best housekeeping services
  • the problems with handymen services
  • how to plan and execute home renovation and home improvement projects
  • tips for spring cleaning; tidying up a messy house
  • and generally how to be a better homeowner.

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