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Logs Are Not Just For Fires

If you have ever had to complete a medical questionnaire, you’ll know how difficult it is to remember all the details. For example, were you six or seven when you had mumps, how many times have you had tonsillitis, was it your left or right arm that was broken on that skiing trip. When it comes to prescribed medication, you’re bound to miss out the odd course of antibiotics or anti-inflammatories. Fortunately, your doctor’s records should have your complete medical history so you can access this information if required.

In the same way, your car has a service history and manufacturers even provide a little book that can be stamped each time a service or oil change is carried out. Most garages also keep computerised records which can be invaluable when selling or buying a used car. In the home, some appliances follow this example. Boilers need servicing and, in rented accommodation, all gas appliances must be tested, passed and a valid certificate issued and retained. Similarly, intruder alarms have record books showing when they were tested, batteries replaced etc. The same goes for pest control services.

Astonishingly, however, there is no such log book for the home itself. After all, this is the biggest investment that most of us make yet we’re not too good at remembering when our home was rewired or altered, when changes to the plumbing or heating installation were made, when redecorating was carried out, when locks were changed or when windows or doors were replaced. We tend to rely on our memories and all too often these are unreliable. Just try asking neighbours (or yourself) how many times redecorating has been undertaken: chances are that the reply will be wrong. You would think that the high price of a kitchen or bathroom replacement would be readily noted but often you have to look back at bank statements or credit card bills to find out exactly when the work was done and how much it cost or just have an argument about which year the work was carried out.

Generally speaking, when it comes to household repairs, time passes more quickly than we think. Recalling when works were carried out becomes distorted. You didn’t plumb in that new washing machine three years ago! Actually it’s been in use for over seven! Your patio wasn’t laid five years ago – it’s close on ten!

The recent floods have meant that many insurance claims forms have had to be submitted and most of these have needed the sort of information that could have been readily and far more easily available if it had been logged with key information. Exactly when things were purchased and added or when works were undertaken, their cost and specification. This would also be useful information for any potential purchaser of a home and could include diagrams of pipe runs or wiring, details of damp proofing, tanking out cellars or building porches and extensions and so on. Of course, this could also be all too revealing and highlight problems that could raise warning bells in a potential buyer’s mind but this could also save lots of time and money in the buying process. On the other hand, this information could also show just how well looked after a property has been which could add significantly to a home’s selling points and therefore value.

In these days of digital record storage where our shopping habits are regularly analysed by stores, banks, marketing organisations and credit card companies, it is a real wonder that we are in the dark about how much it really costs to keep and maintain a property. We tend to be well aware of our monthly mortgage payments or rents but if you want a really depressing time in these wet, early months of 2016, just sit down and start adding up all the household bills that cover the cost of running a home. Not just council tax and utilities but things like looking after the garden, window cleaning, repointing, replacing carpets, curtains and furniture, insurance, light bulbs and fittings.

A domestic log would help us to know exactly how much a home costs to run in the long term. This could not only help us to prepare for large expenditures but also may partially explain why property prices have increased steadily in real terms over the past few years.