Rural Home Maintenance: How To Keep Your Country Cottage In Good Health

“I love a sunburnt country, a land of sweeping plains, of rugged mountain ranges, of drought and flooding rains.”

These words from Dorothea Mackellar, writing in the early 20th century, perfectly encapsulate the heart of the Australian bush. But no matter where you are in the world, chances are your local rural landscapes can be just as breathtaking as the wild outback – characterised by diverse and unique biomes, and stunning sunsets and starry skies from dusk to dawn.

And if you’re lucky enough to own a country property like a quaint cottage or bungalow, then you must love escaping to this little abode – or perhaps you’re living there 24/7. Living in the country certainly comes with many challenges but, with regular maintenance, your country cottage will be healthy and able to withstand any problems nature might throw at it.

Today we are going through the areas of your country home that require regular maintenance. Read on to check that you’re handling the essentials so that you can rest easy in your rural retreat.

Check, Mend And Replace Fencing

As rural homeowners, you understand the importance of maintaining the fencing around your property. Fencing is essential for maintaining property lines, protecting crops and belongings from intruders, keeping livestock and pets in your land, and improving the value of your property.

Periodically walk your fence line to check for loose or damaged uprights, and sagging or damaged wire. Replace decayed wooden or rusty metal posts with star picket fencing, select a recycled plastic variety as they do not require regular weatherproofing, nor do they rot or rust. Ensure gates, hinges and locks are in good working order, and lubricate moving parts to prevent rust and stiffness.

Regular maintenance extends the life of your fencing and, by fixing issues immediately you prevent small problems from becoming major repairs.

Identify Structural Issues

A thorough examination of your cottage is critical to maintain structural integrity and safety. Conducting regular inspections of your home, both inside and out, helps identify potential problems before they escalate into costly repairs.

Check for cracks in the foundation and engage a structural engineer if the cracks are rapidly expanding, or there is extensive cracking. Repoint exterior masonry walls and patch up missing mortar in brick walls. Assess cracking, moisture and mould in walls and ceilings constructed of mason, brick or concrete.

Houses with weatherboard exteriors are prone to decay, termite damage, dampness, pest invasions and damage through exposure if not adequately maintained. Regularly apply pest treatments, seal gaps in doors and windows, and repaint boards with weatherproof paint every five to ten years depending on their condition.

Maintain Fire Safety

Curling up with a cup of tea in front of a gentle fire while rain lashes at the windows is the epitome of idyllic rural living. But with dreamy fireplaces comes risks, and looking after fireplaces and wood burners is essential to minimising the dangers.

Creosote, a byproduct of slow-burning logs, is highly flammable and poses a significant fire risk. Regularly clean fireplaces and wood burners to remove creosote build up, and to reduce the risk of stray embers igniting nearby materials. Have your chimney inspected and cleaned by a professional once a year to ensure safety and efficiency.

As you know, with rural living comes bushfire season for those living in arid areas. To ensure you are prepared for the bushfire season, start by reviewing your bushfire readiness plan to make sure all necessary measures are in place. Maintain a fire break along the fence line and another break around the house to create a buffer zone that can slow the spread of fire.

Assess Your Energy Saving Fixtures

Utility prices in rural areas are markedly higher than in urban areas, making it vital to conserve energy and capture water. Regular checks and maintenance is essential to keeping water tanks and solar panels functioning at full capacity.

Capturing water is crucial, particularly in low-rainfall parts of the country. Every six months, inspect your water tanks for cracks, leaks or damage. Run a flush through the pumps and clean the filters. Check pipe connections to and from the tanks, and repair or replace parts that are cracked, wearing thin or rusting. Doing so will not only save water, it will also save you money.

Maintaining solar panels is essential for optimal performance and longevity. Regularly sweep the panels with a soft broom to remove dust and debris, and ensure maximum sunlight absorption. Monitor performance to detect issues early, and schedule professional inspections as needed.

Prepare For The Seasons

Each season brings unique challenges for rural homeowners. Country homes are particularly susceptible to weather damage, so it’s essential to prepare for every season.

In the summer months, you should aim to tackle pest problems head-on and ensure your home stays cool and well-ventilated. As spring arrives, shift your focus to clearing away the remnants of winter weather, like fallen branches and debris, to keep your surroundings safe and pleasant. Adding square foot gardening charts to your garden can help simplify this spring cleaning process, alongside ensuring that any bulbs you’ve planted in winter have the space and air to break forth as the weather begins to warm.

In autumn, weatherproof your home with caulking and weatherstripping to seal gaps around windows and doors, improving insulation. Prepare for winter by clearing gutters, inspecting the roof, and patching vulnerable areas. Additionally, clean heating systems to enhance efficiency.

Throughout the year, strong winds erode crushed rock driveways and paths by sweeping away topsoil and sand, leaving them vulnerable. In winter, heavy rains exacerbate the problem, leading to potholes and deep puddles. Promptly fixing small potholes is crucial to prevent injuries and vehicle damage.

Embracing the charm and beauty of your countryside cottage retreat brings its own set of responsibilities, but the rewards are priceless. Use this handy list of home maintenance tasks to refresh your memory and ensure you and your family are happy and safe in your piece of rural paradise.