What I'm Seeing Now


No Maintenance Is A Misnomer!

Whenever the features list in a home or on the MLS states "No Maintenance!" remember this:

No maintenance is a misnomer!

It's easy to say that!  Very little is not NO maintenance.  A more appropriate phrase would be "Low Maintenance."

Take this house for instance.

It is a brick home and in recent years they wrapped all the wood work on the house with aluminum sheets and covers.

It is a beautiful job.

It was very impressive, and I say this sincerely.

But it has to be investigated, probably annually, for any movement, or cracks, or gaps, or separation.

Remember, what is under the aluminum is wood.

Wood will expand and contract with heat and cold.

Aluminum does not want to move so much.

This job is a multiplicity of seams, miters and intersections.  So many spots are ripe for separation.

If there is any separation at all, water will get inside and stay there.

Look at the lower left corner.

There is a slight gap.

A closer look, at the cropped photo on the right, reveals movement and separation.

Fortunately this is near the ground and easy to see.

A lot of this work is high up and it is crucially important that it be examined annually by a critical eye.


Lifting that lower corner reveals what a little gapping can do.

This is an easy fix because it is only 3' off the ground.

But higher up this is a bigger deal.

And to say the house is "No Maintenance" is pie in the sky and inappropriate marketing.

That phrase is truly a misnomer!

While it might look good on the MLS or on a features list inside the home, it is not the best thing to say!

And it will cause a home inspector's antenna to raise!

Hint:  a home inspector will look for two things - drum roll ...

1.  The cracks or gaps mentioned above, and
2.  The wrong caulking used!  Like clear silicone!  There are different caulking products made for different applications! 


My recommendation:  features lists need to be evaluated carefully.  And what the MLS says is only as good as the interview with the seller or the author of the information.  It may or may not be accurate!  And No Maintenance will almost always mean Low Maintenance.  So look around with a sharp eye! 




Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC  

Based in Bristow, serving all of Northern Virginia.

Office (703) 330-6388   Cell (703) 585-7560


Comment balloon 67 commentsJay Markanich • July 19 2013 03:19AM


Hi Jay,

There is not a home out there that will not need any maintenance. Even if you live in a storage container, it will need to be painted from time to time. Not only that. The homes have too many moving parts.

If it moves it will wear out meaning the need for maintenance. Just a ploy by a Realtor to help the sale. How about saying Low maintenance instead?

Have a great day in Bristow.

Best, Clint McKie

Posted by Clint Mckie, Desert Sun Home, Comm. Inspection 1-575-706-5586 (Desert Sun Home, commercial Inspections) over 7 years ago

Jay, good point. There is no such thing as no maintenance, or at least I can't think of anything... unless of course you are talking about a weed garden. That might be true no maintenance. But a house? Never...

That wood under there doesn't look too healthy! I am always a bit concerned when an older home has been vinyl sided, I wonder if there was rotten wood that was sided over.

Posted by Andrea Swiedler, Realtor, Southern Litchfield County CT (Berkshire Hathaway HomeServices New England Properties) over 7 years ago

All homes will need maintenance for sure Clint, in one way or another.  As to this siding, it will too!

Andrea - my weed garden thrives no matter what, you are right.  One would hope they didn't cover rotting wood too!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Apparently the owners were not trying to hide anything according to your post.  That is a good thing :)

Posted by James Dray, Exceptional Agents, Outstanding Results (Fathom Realty) over 7 years ago

They were trying to overcome problems James, and did it well.  Perhaps they were also sold on the "no maintenance" misnomer and never checked it.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Great post! Thanks for sharing your knowledge.

Posted by Kelly Taylor (Keller Williams) over 7 years ago

When I saw your title the thought was "low maintenance."  Glad to see I was on the right track. Neglect has its price.

Posted by Gary L. Waters Broker Associate, Bucci Realty, Fifteen Years Experience in Brevard County (Bucci Realty, Inc.) over 7 years ago

Hello Jay,

No maintenance, haven't found that yet for a house - or anything else for that matter!  But wait, Andrea may be on to something with the weed garden (LOL)

Posted by Lisa Von Domek, ....Experience Isn't Expensive.... It's Priceless! (Lisa Von Domek Team) over 7 years ago

Thanks Kelly.  That's why we're here!

Gary - they may have truly thought it was a put up and forget job!  Not so.

Lisa - I have a weed garden, carefully kept.  It's bursting with life.  And it IS no maintenance.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Jay, Well said. There is no such thing as no maintenance. We used a lot of aluminum in the truck business because of weight saving, but it far from no maintenance. I have seen enough of aluminum over the years I would not want it on my home.

Posted by Tom Bailey (Margaret Rudd & Associates Inc.) over 7 years ago

Jay, no maintenance to the aluminum siding maybe, but not to the house.

Posted by Michael Setunsky, Your Commercial Real Estate Link to Northern VA over 7 years ago

good info no such thing as maintainace free, my personal garage header was not wrapped correctly and now we have rot behind the siding, fortunately we came to terms with the builder who is still out here.

Posted by Michael Gendreau, Edina Realty (Edina Realty) over 7 years ago

Boy, you are exactly right! If water gets behind that "No Maintenance" aluminum, it stays there and wreaks havoc on the wood behind it! I found the same thing yesterday on wrapped facia boards, and I am writing that blog as we speak :-)

Posted by Fred Hernden, CMI, Albuquerque area Master Inspector (Superior Home Inspections - Greater Albuquerque Area) over 7 years ago

We have both Aluminum and vinyl siding all with the same issues. I will say that it seem that the vinyl is not having as many problems as the aluminum.

Posted by Chuck Mixon, Cutler Bay Specialist, GRI, CDPE, BPOR (The Keyes Company) over 7 years ago

If only there were no maintenance homes.  It is difficult for buyers to know what is lurking behind vinyl or aluminum.

Posted by Sharon Parisi, Dallas Homes (United Real Estate Dallas ) over 7 years ago

Good point-low and no are not synonymous terms!

Posted by Drick Ward Property Management / Broker Assoc, "RealtorDrick" - Experienced Representation (NEPTUNE REALTY) over 7 years ago

Spot on, and add to that the folks who say since I am buying a new house I don't need an inspection. I remind them of the term 'Man Made".

Posted by Joe Pryor, REALTOR® - Oklahoma Investment Properties (The Virtual Real Estate Team) over 7 years ago

I don't know of anything that is NO MAINTENANCE, especially a home!  I may state "low maintenance exterior" on a listing that has no exterior surfaces requiring painting except the door & door facings, but that's as far as I go. 

Posted by Cheryl Powell - The Powell Team, Concord,Harrisburg & Charlotte NC Area Real Estate (Southern Homes of The Carolinas - The Powell Team) over 7 years ago

Low- No. Tomato, Potato. Aluminum, Alyouminium. They're all the same, right? WRONG.

Posted by Scott Seaton Jr. Bourbonnais Kankakee IL Home Inspector, The Home Inspector With a Heart! (SLS Home Inspections-Bradley Bourbonnais Kankakee Manteno) over 7 years ago

Even brand new means adjustments, something out of whack or needing tweaking. Doors that don't shut properly with a little settling. A slim needed under the double shower that creaks when heavy weights climb in and start rocking and rolling with the morning sing along during the scrubby dub dub morning ritual vocal performance.

Posted by Andrew Mooers | 207.532.6573, Northern Maine Real Estate-Aroostook County Broker (MOOERS REALTY) over 7 years ago

Thank you for the post. I think it is better to write low maintenance rather than no maintenance when we describe things in mls.

Posted by Gita Bantwal, REALTOR,ABR,CRS,SRES,GRI - Bucks County & Philadel (RE/MAX Centre Realtors) over 7 years ago

Good Morning, Jay ~

You are so right!  Low Maintenance is a much better phrase to use!  It is very difficult to use 'absolutes' to describe anything these days ... especially a house, yes?

Posted by Carie Shapiro (North Shore Suburbs & Chicago Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Yes to this post and the accurate use of words here....I often refer to people as NO, LOW, or HIGH maintenance and there is a difference

Posted by Richie Alan Naggar, agent & author (people first...then business Ran Right Realty ) over 7 years ago

This is so true! Too bad some people subscribe to that belief of NO maintenance and then a pro like yourself has to point out the realities of no vs low.  Always nice to read your posts.

Posted by Jeff Fisher, PUREWEST REAL ESTATE/Christies (PureWest Real Estate) over 7 years ago

Everything needs some sort of maintenance. This is reality. This is a great example of no maintenance being done. Every property owner should walk around their property and look for issue. Preventive maintenance sure solves a lot of down the road nightmares.

Posted by Bill Reddington, Destin Florida Real Estate (Re/max By The Sea) over 7 years ago

Caulking may go a long way to assisting a LOW MAINTENANCE claim. Keep the info coming and keep smilin'

Posted by Brian Schulte, SFR, Sierra Vista, AZ (Allison James Estates & Homes) over 7 years ago

This is good information for home owners and prospective home buyers.  More very good reasons to have a professional home inspection.

Keep cool and have a great weekend.

Posted by Roy Kelley (Realty Group Referrals) over 7 years ago

Good point. Wrapping is all the rage, but what is wrapped is usually rotting wood.  Any homeowners objective needs to be keeping water from getting into their home.


Posted by Holly Weatherwax, A Great Real Estate Experience ( Associate Broker, Momentum Realty) over 7 years ago

Jay -- we had vinyl clad steel siding put on our house about a decade ago, and even that requires maintenance, if nothing more than washing all the dirt off.  In addition, I have to check any of the holes that were drilled through for something, which was subsequently removed, to make sure they are still sealed.  Great point on "no" versus "low" maintenance.

Posted by Steven Cook (No Longer Processing Mortgages.) over 7 years ago

This is the second blog I have read today on water damage with wood wrapped in aluminum. I understand how people could get too comfortable and think that is the last thing they have to do to it once it is on. This blog reinforces the importance of having to check everything regularly.

Posted by Tanya Van Blake-Coleman, Improving the Quality of Your Life (Van Blake-Coleman Realty, St. Thomas/www.talk-to-Tanya.com) over 7 years ago

Not sure there is anything that is "no maintenance". Low maintenace is a much better term.

Posted by Than Maynard, Broker - Licensed to List & Sell - 405-990-8862 (Coldwell Banker Heart of Oklahoma) over 7 years ago

There already are so many restrictions in what we cannot say on our MLS, why not make no maintenance one of them? It can be very deceiving and not appropriate at all.

Posted by Trisha Bush-LeFore, Providing Realtor Services in the Walla Walla Area (Preferred Properties Land & Homes) over 7 years ago

Oh, how true that is! There is no such thing as "no maintenance". Thanks!

Posted by Ralph Gorgoglione, Hawaii and California Real Estate (310) 497-9407 (Maui Life Homes / Metro Life Homes) over 7 years ago

Jay, there is "no maintenance,"(actually a myth like you say) "low mantenance" and then there is "replacement" every now and then:)

Posted by Charles Buell, Seattle Home Inspector (Charles Buell Inspections Inc.) over 7 years ago

Except for the gaps, Tom, this was a great job!

Mike - you always have to look around!

Michael - the builder created the problem and should fix it!

It enters, it stays Fred!  Water and wood and air cause rot!

Chuck - well, it doesn't dent!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Sharon - that day may never come - for the low maintenance or the lurking stuff!

Drick - hence the post!  And no probably doesn't exist.

Joe - my other favorite, and probably most frequent, blog post subject!

Cheryl - wording like that should not be used in a features list.

Scott - woulda, coulda, shoulda.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Andrew - it all needs tweaking!

Gita - certainly better!  And that should be the practice.

Absolutely Carie.  Always remember to never use absolutes.

Richie - and they are the most unpredictable!  Never the same - the label varies sometimes daily.

Thanks Jeff.  One should look behind the curtain, like Toto.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Bill - that is the very definition of home maintenance and seasonal chores!

Thanks Brain.  I intend to!

And thank you too Roy.  Doubtful that I will get any cooler than I am now though...

Holly - would that we had X-ray vision and could see where the rot is!

Steven - regular checking is the key.  It prevents huge jobs in the future.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Tanya - if water gets behind it, it will rot!

Than - and using it should be the practice!

I agree Trisha.  And people see that and might believe it!

Ralph - for sure, so the house info should not say otherwise!

Charlie - like saying that there are lies, damn lies and then there's statistics!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Maybe the listing agent just didn't finish his sentence: No maintenance [if you don't mind lots of rot] or [if there is never any moisture in the air, forever].  Is anything "no" maintenance?  Maybe a corpse.  I've never seen that kind is kind a siding used out here.

Posted by Lloyd Binen, Silicon Valley Realtor since 1976; 408-373-4411 (Certified Realty Services) over 7 years ago

Yup - see that verbiage all the time and it is very misleading.  Good call by pointing that out.  thanks!

Posted by Venus Howard, CDPE, CIAS, SFR, GRI (Re/Max Alliance) over 7 years ago

There is nothing maintenance free because a house is not made of aluminum or vinyl. It is easy for the public to forget that there is wood underneath. They never remember yesterday so they are easy prey.

Posted by Jimmy Faulkner, The Best Of St. Augustine (Florida. Homes Realty & Mortgage) over 7 years ago

Lloyd - I think fungus and worms do maintenance on corpses, don't you think!?

It is Venus and I see it all the time too!

Jimmy - it's a bit out of line to suggest to anyone that maintenance free is at any house!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Yuck...what is pretty on the outside...not soooo much on the inside....!

Posted by Sally K. & David L. Hanson, WI Real Estate Agents - Luxury - Divorce (EXP Realty 414-525-0563) over 7 years ago

Jay, As long as the public continues to search for the terms "no maintenance", "maintenance free" and "low maintenance" in regards to their prospective homes, we can expect they'll all get used in marketing remarks. 

Obviously no home is completely maintenance free. Someone still has to change the light bulbs, inspect for damage and all the rest that comes with owning a home.  That responsibility may belong solely to the home owner, or may fall to a contracted service or perhaps the condo association if it applies.

Regardless, rather than just hanging the listing agent, isn't there some burden on the buyer's agent, buyer and home inspector to apply this mythological item called "common sense"?

Posted by Liz and Bill Spear, RE/MAX Elite Warren County OH (Cincinnati/Dayton) (RE/MAX Elite 513.520.5305 www.LizTour.com) over 7 years ago

Very true. We should use the better phrase of low maintenance.

Posted by Lyn Sims, Schaumburg Real Estate (RE/MAX Suburban) over 7 years ago

Thanks for getting the word out. Learned that lesson the hard way. Check my home exterior both spring & fall.

Posted by Keith Whited (RE/MAX Gateway) over 7 years ago

I use the words "low maintenance" quite a bit, I'm pretty sure I've never used NO, but I've certainly had condo buyers ask for it.

Posted by Tammy Lankford,, Broker GA Lake Sinclair/Eatonton/Milledgeville (Lane Realty Eatonton, GA Lake Sinclair, Milledgeville, 706-485-9668) over 7 years ago

I find it hard to believe any Realtor would make that claim!  Is there a house anywhere that is "no maintenance?"  I guess different Regions use their own lingo.  Here in N. Texas you will rarely see any mention of future property maintenance on the MLS.   I would be very cautious making any claims about maintenance and leave that to the potential buyer to determine when they are viewing the home.   After an accepted offer, the home inspector can make recommendations also.

Posted by Debra Chiarello, Deb Chiarello (Retired) over 7 years ago

Hi Jay, for sure!  We built a new custom home once and dreamed of no maintenance.  If took less than 2 years before it needed maintenance.

Posted by Bob Miller, The Ocala Dream Team (Keller Williams Cornerstone Realty) over 7 years ago

Dear Jay,

If you do not want any maintenance, you need to live in an appartement with a super, who takes care of stuff. Otherwise, walk around the house looking for snything amiss every spring & fall or after bad weather events.

Posted by Dörte Engel, ABC - Annapolis, Bowie, Crofton & rest of Maryland (RE/MAX Leading Edge) over 7 years ago

Couple weeks ago  I saw those very words in the MLS "no maintenance".  I called the listing agent because my client was interested but told him I thought he misspelled the word "low". He said no and I had been in the house a couple years ago. There was mold in one of the bedroom closets on the other side of the utility room. Did they clear that up? They painted the whole house inside and outside was his response. Mine so did they get rid of the mold. 2 days later it was temporarily off the market because of a leak in one of the pipes under the utility room that needed to be addressed. Listing agent had no idea. it is still not on market.

Posted by Theresa Akin (CORPUS CHRISTI REALTY GROUP) over 7 years ago

Thank you Jay.  You always give such great advice and tips.  I always learn from what you post.  

Posted by Christi Farrington, ~ Your representative in Fairfield County, CT (Dagny's Real Estate) over 7 years ago
I don't believe in absolutes of any kind, and this is a perfect example.
Posted by Hella Mitschke Rothwell, Hawaii & California Real Estate Broker ((831) 626-4000) over 7 years ago

Jay, great blog post, very interesting thank for sharing!

Posted by EMILIA B COOPER, REALTOR® SFR.NCHSE.AHWD, Short Sales, Foreclosure & Bank Owned Real Estate (LAROSA REALTY) over 7 years ago

S&D - you have to pay attention!

Bliz - I thought the post was applying the mythological item called common sense by suggesting that "low maintenance" would be a better term!

Lyn - that aluminum wrapping is truly low maintenance!  But one has to pay attention nonetheless!

Keith - that is a very good practice!

Tammy - even them there condos ain't no maintenance!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Debra - I have seen the bumper stickers and can confidently say that maintenance happens.

Bob - disaster!  Well, those lazy, maintenance-free days were the days!

Dorte - I have published many seasonal maintenance lists here on AR!

Theresa - still on the market?  With no maintenance?  Go figure!

I'm glad you do Christi!


Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Absolutely Hella.  We should always remember to never use absolutes.

Emilia - thanks and stop by again!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

I can't imagine anything that could be "no maintenance." Not even my shoes. 

Posted by Marte Cliff, Your real estate writer (Marte Cliff Copywriting) over 7 years ago

Jay is so correct about maintenance.  Unfortunately I see it advertised quite often and in my part of the world every home needs constant attention. With high heat in the summer, lots of rain and even some snow in the winter plus very strong winds sometimes, what was in great shape can and often changes in hours.  I inspect in several surrounding counties and find major differences in Realtor attitudes and practices, some not so good.

Posted by Byron Duerksen (Housecheck Inspection Services) over 7 years ago

My shoes don't need maintenance Marte!  I have PF Flyers!

Of course Byron.  It's common sense.  Our average life span is 75 years or so.  Do we need maintenance?

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Great post. Would the use of the correct caulking prevented this occurrence?

Posted by Kimo Jarrett, Pro Lifestyle Solutions (WikiWiki Realty) over 7 years ago

Things move over time Kimo.  Good caulking is essential and may last for years.  But still, it needs regular investigation.

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) over 7 years ago

Great points... Good Job... Thanks for the info...

Posted by Beth and Richard Witt, Long Island Cash Home Buyer 516-330-6940 (Long Island Cash Home Buyer) about 7 years ago

Thanks R&B!  I'm glad you found it to be useful information!

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

It's the old slight of hand.  The presentation is outstanding but no-one knows whats behind the "curtain".

Posted by Bill Morrow, Bill Morrow, Associate Broker (Keller Williams of Central PA) about 7 years ago

Bill - just think of home inspectors as Toto, pulling the curtain away from the "Wizard."

Posted by Jay Markanich, Home Inspector - servicing all Northern Virginia (Jay Markanich Real Estate Inspections, LLC) about 7 years ago

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