Home Maintenance

How long have you been a homeowner? Whether it’s just a few years or many decades, making your house a home for a lifetime takes a lot of work. Even the most experienced homeowner may say “there’s always something that needs to be done.”

Research Findings

If you have any home maintenance tasks that could or should be done, you’re not alone. According to new research from The Hartford Center for Mature Market Excellence® and the MIT AgeLab, about half of all homeowners over age 50 surveyed (49 percent) said they have home maintenance tasks to be done.
The study found the top reasons were that:
  • home maintenance wasn’t much of a problem right now (43 percent)
  • homeowners couldn’t afford to do them right now (18 percent)
  • homeowners didn’t have time to fix them themselves (11 percent)
Interestingly, home maintenance experiences were different for those in their 50s and 60s than for those over the age of 70.
  • Sixty percent of homeowners age 50-69 reported that they have work that needs to be completed, compared to only 37 percent of homeowners age 70 and older.
  • The survey also found that home maintenance has become more difficult over time for homeowners age 50 and older, especially among those age 70 and older. Fifty-two percent of those age 70 and older say that their health makes it hard for them to do home maintenance or repairs.
Taking care of preventative home maintenance can be challenging at any age, especially during mid-life when homeowners may have competing demands for their time and money, and in later life as we may experience physical changes.

Experience With Home Damage

Understanding what needs to be done and preparing ahead of time can help prevent bigger problems down the road that may result in significant damage and stress for homeowners and their families. For example, a small drip may seem minor but it could ultimately result in bigger water or mold problems if it is not addressed.
A notable percentage of those surveyed already know what it’s like to have damage to their own home, including from: 
  • Water leak from a roof (27 percent)
  • Water leak from a hot water heater or pipes in their home (21 percent)
  • Weather or natural events (17 percent)
  • Insect, rodent or pest damage (11 percent)
Despite the fact that many homeowners have personally experienced a water leak, only 1 percent of homeowners surveyed owned a smart water shut off valve, and only 3 percent owned a water and/or mold monitoring system. However, when asked which technologies would be most beneficial for home maintenance, smart water shut off valves and water and/or mold monitoring systems topped the list.
As adults move into mid- and later life, plans for college tuition, retirement and healthcare are frequently top of mind, but it is equally important to take steps to maintain their homes. There are proactive steps homeowners can take to keep their home at its best and try to prevent damage.

Tips for Home Maintenance

When tackling home maintenance, The Hartford recommends that homeowners:
Research Methodology: The Hartford and the MIT AgeLab conducted focus groups with sixty homeowners age 50+ in Phoenix, Arizona, and Boston, Massachusetts, during June 2017. The MIT AgeLab also fielded a consumer survey with 1,022 homeowners age 50+ between September 11 and 18, 2017, using Qualtrics. Using a 95 percent level of confidence, the margin of error is +/- 5 percent. Additionally, nine homeowners over the age of 50 were interviewed in September and October 2017.
This information is intended to help individuals who seek information about home maintenance and smart home technology. It is not intended to be an exhaustive source or to relate to a particular product, service, individual, or living situation. Readers are advised to consult the appropriate professionals to assist them in analyzing their situation.

Here to Stay: Home Upkeep for All™

Here to Stay: Home Upkeep for All A website and free toolkit publication from AARP Foundation and The Hartford features seasonal and ongoing home maintenance and safety solutions. Among the offerings: an interactive home assessment tool and a directory of local resources for finding help with needs ranging from repairs to reducing utility bills and other home costs.
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