Keeping track of interior and exterior home maintenance schedules, landscaping, and emergency contacts for repairs can be overwhelming, especially for new homeowners. Even for experienced owners, help with organization and a centralized place to keep information can be a struggle—and no one wants to be digging in a desk drawer or searching through a file cabinet for a repair history when you need your homeowner’s insurance information for an emergency repair. But creating a well-organized system to keep records and information handy is as simple as starting a maintenance binder.
In your binder, you should have sections for indoor, outdoor, and emergency information, keeping track of any work done on your house in each section. If you’re not sure where to get started, begin by taking stock of your household systems. You’ll need sections for HVAC, electrical, appliances, plumbing, roof and gutters, landscaping and garden, and exterior checks like vent covers and chimney caps. You should also include contact information for your favorite repair companies and emergency calls for things like roof or plumbing leaks. You can also include service numbers for your homeowner’s insurance and any companies you have warranties with.
Heating, air conditioning, and ventilation—including furnaces, AC units, heat pumps, vents, fans, built-in humidifiers and dehumidifiers, and any other equipment related to these systems—should all go under HVAC. Record when annual maintenance is done either by you or a professional when filters are changed, when vents get cleaned, and any repairs you have done by date in this section of your binder. Make a list of maintenance and how often it needs to be done, checking off and dating it as you go.
Anytime you have any updates done to outlets, lighting fixtures, or to any other part of your electrical system, you should record them in the electrical section of your binder. You can also include your monthly meter readings, and keep track of any repairs you have done or major renovations to the system, such adding solar panels.
Any plumbing work beyond a simple clogged drain should be kept in your plumbing section. This includes your sinks, showers, drains, and any appliances that are connected to the water supply. If you have a septic system or a water-filtration system, these should definitely be included in your binder. Any time you replace fixtures, add new drain pipes or water supply pipes, or have any of your drains inspected for root damage or other debris, you can record this in your binder.
Keep all of your appliance information, including when and how often maintenance tasks like defrosting, filter change or cleaning, and hose inspection should be done. Make sure to check these off and date them as they are performed, and include notes on any repairs. This is a good place to keep receipts in a folder pocket to make sure any warranties are kept up-to-date and you can find the information when you need it.
Cleaning gutters and clearing downspouts, as well as inspecting them for damage, should be done once or twice annually and recorded in your exterior maintenance log. You should also inspect your roof once a year and after any major storm or wind events. Landscaping like reseeding your lawn, replanting your garden, and any larger scale projects like regrading or repaving a driveway can also be kept in this section. Also track any time you have repairs done to your roof or exterior of your home.
Having all of this information written down in one place will make it simpler to remember what needs to be done, which professionals you prefer to hire for the task, and when work was done by who, not just for you but also for insurance and warranty companies. While you can have an electronic back-up, remember that if you’re trying to find information in an emergency, you might not have access to the internet or even electricity. Keeping a paper copy of these documents in a safe place will give you some added assurance that you can get the help you need quickly when you need it most.