Compiled by Cherry Ellis

Spring has sprung and it is a good time to look at your biggest investment – property.

Developers, social housing and non-profit organisations that are responsible for the upkeep of maintenance of affordable housing projects they are involved with should keep a close eye on their investment and encourage tenants to report problems as soon as possible.

In this edition of SA Affordable Housing we look at some tips on how to keep the maintenance of your investment up to date, which can lead to huge cost savings in the end.

Taps / faucets

The main cause of leaky taps or faucets is worn out washers. The washers inside of the tap handles are rubber and tend to wear out quickly. By replacing them as soon as it is reported can save water in a country that is already taking every measure to ensure that we save every drop.


In order to keep water flowing freely through your pipes, keep the following things in mind:

accumulating fats and oils are the main cause for clogs, so never pour fats or other oils down your drain. This includes oils that are not solid at room temperature.

Handing out safety tips, in the form of a brochure or newsletter, to your tenants can help to stop clogging drains, which include:

  • If you accidentally spill oils or fats down the drain, run hot water down the drain along with a healthy serving of dishwashing liquid.

The soap will emulsify the fat or oil and move it on down the pipe, preventing a clog.

  • Get a hair strainer for the bathtub drain. If fats and oils are the main source of clogs in the kitchen, hair is the primary culprit in the bathroom. If you have a strainer, make sure that you remove any accumulated hair from it following each shower. This reduces the amount of hair that finds its way through the strainer and into your plumbing.
  • Baby nappies and female sanitaryware should not be flushed down the drain. Draining systems are for transporting mainly liquids and these objects are not going to dissolve and is a huge culprit in clogging up drains.


There is nothing worse than a development that looks old and dilapidated. This can easily be fixed with a fresh coat of paint. Give your units a fresh new look and facelift by repainting the inside and outside. However, as repainting the entire interior of the units can be costly, save time and money by strategically touching up your paint job every so often. The maintenance manager can inspect the units on a regular basis and advise if painting or touch-ups are needed inside.

Drafty windows

Here the maintenance manager or sub-contractors who are appointed can periodically check the condition of the caulk line that holds the windows in place. If the caulk appears to be dry, cracked or weathered, remove the old caulk with a box cutter or sharp knife and run a new bead of caulk along the seam.


While gutters may go practically unnoticed when you look at a house, they are the main line of defence between your foundation and siding and the elements. Gutters are designed to capture water and debris runoff from your roof and divert it away from your foundation, and one of the main causes of water accumulation in basements is a lack of gutter maintenance and proper water diversion.

Sub-contractors are advised to clean gutters at least once a year by physically removing debris from the channels and rinsing them thoroughly using a garden hose.

They can also regularly check that gutters are properly affixed to the fascia boards and replace any sections that appear to be damaged or leaking.


By regularly inspecting roofs for damage costs can be saved. Damaged, discoloured or gravel-less shingles should be quickly replaced to prevent the need to replace the roof, water-damaged trusses or drywall when a leak is finally discovered. During the inspection of the roof, maintenance managers and sub-contractors must pay special attention to shingles that surround skylights, vents and chimneys, as these areas are the most leak-prone.