Consider maintenance and running costs in looking for a property

The cost of maintaining and running your new home is something that needs to be considered, and could add or reduce the number of dirhams on your monthly bills. Ahid Shaikh of Déjà vu Properties tells us a little more about those not-so-obvious costs of moving into a new home.

Assessing maintenance costs – what matters
One of these costs is the wear and tear of water heaters and water tanks in villas and apartments. These can cost up to Dh1,000-1,500 to replace, and need regular service and replacement. Many tenants and new owners have to often replace these in the first few months of occupancy. Water damage from leaking water tanks and servicing of air conditioning units can further add to the high costs of maintenance.

Apartments cost less to run and maintain
Villas tend to have more maintenance outlay as they have gardens and swimming pools which can cost a considerable amount to maintain. Water pumps and pipes for swimming pools are an added cost that can be avoided by investing in apartments. Also, air conditioning units are set individually for villas and, hence, more expensive to maintain in case of a breakdown.

Apartments, on the other hand, have a common air conditioning unit; hence, the maintenance is not the responsibility of the tenant or the individual owner. Regular servicing of the air conditioning ducts can prevent and save thousands of dirhams in this regard.

Ensuring that the property has a maintenance contract from a professional company can help you make the right decision. Maintenance contracts ensure that the properties have had regular check-ups, and issues would have been fixed early on.

The early detection and fixing of water leaks, air conditioning servicing, etc., can save a lot of hassle and money in the long run. Service costs within developments are directly related to the amenities offered. For example, swimming pools and gymnasiums, landscaping and buildings with basements usually means higher maíntenance costs.

Older buildings may not necessarily equate to higher maintenance costs
The older a property is the more upkeep it requires anywhere in the world. Although this is not always the case if the property has been properly maintained throughout the years. It is important to consider the management company and developers of the project or building in this regard.

Reputable developers have proper systems in place for regular maintenance issues, and these are usually tackled as and when they arise. This ensures that regular major issues don’t crop up often and disturb the tenants and owners of properties. Also, good quality developments have been built by reputable contractors. Research on the contractors can also help you make the right decision.

Keep your eyes open when inspecting new property
It is often quite easy to tell by looking at a property how well it has been maintained through the years. Large wall and ceiling cracks, and evidence of water damage are definitely the ones to keep in mind. Enquiring into these will help you figure out if there might be a chance of major maintenance issues cropping up in the near future. It is important to make sure that these issues are appropriately fixed and will not lead to major costs over a period of time. It is advisable to hire an expert to survey the property before proceeding.

Service charges will always vary
In Dubai, areas like Palm Jumeirah, Downtown Dubai and Dubai Marina are areas with higher service charges.

Service charges are used to cover the cost of maintaining a development. Factors that lead to higher service fees are the quality of the development, the quality of services provided (for example the swimming pool, gymnasiums, etc.), the infrastructure within the development, and other value-added features like retail stores, restaurants and other amenities.

What to look out for in a property
• Check for signs of water damage and plumbing problems in the form of leaky taps, an inefficient toilet flushing system, etc. Look up at the ceiling too if there are any signs that the unit above you had a leak as there will be spots indicating this.
• Electrical outlets must be in good working condition; look out for exposed wiring, and ensure all light switches are working properly.
• Air conditioning system should be working at optimum level. Have the filters checked and cleaned if needed. Don’t forget the water heater as you will be needing it for the winter

Source: Nicholas Baker, Special to Freehold


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