WINTER storm damage can wreak havoc on even the most organised home owner’s monthly budget, forcing you to live with temporary repairs, dip into your savings or borrow money to effect repairs. But simple routine maintenance, such as cutting down rotting or precariously leaning trees, fixing loose roof tiles, cleaning out gutters and installing drainage in areas that flood easily can help prevent common winter woes. “Sometimes there isn’t sufficient storm damage to warrant an insurance claim. Even if the damage is severe enough to make a claim it may take time to process and you will still have to pay the excess,” explains Direct Axis’ head of marketing, Gavin Moir. This is why it’s sensible to take some basic precautions to try to tackle the most obvious problems, even if you do need to spend a little money to avoid having to spend a lot later. “Whether you’re into DIY or prefer to hire a home handyman to help you, it’s a good idea to budget a little each month for routine repairs.”Another tip is that if you are doing some renovations get the builder or handyman to fix any nagging repairs while they’re on site. This will generally be more cost-effective than calling someone in when the rain’s pouring into your lounge. Besides maintenance and emergency repairs, putting some money aside into a home improvement budget also gives you the flexibility to make your home a more comfortable winter haven. You may decide to install an indoor fireplace, build a games room or save on heating costs by insulating the roof. An indoor fireplace is a relatively inexpensive addition and besides the warmth it provides can add a great deal of atmosphere to a room. But unless you’re a seasoned DIY expert, don’t be tempted to do it yourself or cut corners by getting a friend’s friend to do it on the cheap.“Rushed or badly built renovations can end up costing more in repairs and can detract, rather than add to the value of your house. It’s much better to pay a little more to get the work done by an expert. After all for most people their home is their most valuable asset.”If you’re planning more ambitious alterations such as a warm winter entertainment room, first consider if it will really add value to your house. Is it the sort of feature that a potential buyer would pay a bit more to have?Before answering consider the demographics of your neighbourhood, the style of housing and the sales price of similar homes in the area. This should give you a good idea as to whether you will be able to recoup the cost of the renovations if you ever plan to sell the property. A good rule of thumb is not to spend more than 25% of the value of your house on renovations. If you are planning to do a renovation there’s a useful loan calculator at https://www.directaxis.co.za/personal-loans-calculator.aspx which can help you work out what you can afford and what the repayments will be.