Guest Author - Reshma Vyas
Owning a home can bring tremendous joy but it can also be rather costly. The financial costs for home maintenance are often underestimated by first-time home buyers. The realization of the sheer magnitude of these expenses can be a psychological jolt. Routine yearly maintenance for a detached home can run anywhere from $1500-$4000. That is just the minimum. Throw in the additional costs for unexpected home repairs such as furnace replacement, and this easily adds up to a significant chunk of household income. Neglecting to put aside sufficient savings for routine home maintenance and repairs can cause a painful, lingering financial headache that no homeowner ever wants to truly experience.
Budgeting for home maintenance expenses and repairs has several inherent benefits. A well-maintained home is a cleaner, more comfortable and livable place in which to function. Regular home maintenance can enhance the value of the property, making it easier to sell than one which needs considerably more work. Many prospective homeowners prefer a home that is in "move-in" condition so this key selling point should not be underemphasized. By anticipating the costs for home maintenance and tackling the problems as they occur, rather than ignoring them and letting them build up, you can prevent small, inexpensive jobs from becoming big, unwieldy problems.
The costs of home maintenance obviously vary depending on the age, condition and size of the home along with location and environmental factors. Generally, as a prudent financial precaution, homeowners should have at the least 2-4% of their home's purchase price in savings to cover routine home maintenance costs. Clearly, the more you have in savings, the better equipped you will be to also deal with unexpected home repair emergencies. Routine home maintenance goes well beyond appliance repair/replacement, carpet cleaning, door and window replacement, floor installation/repair, gardening and outdoor decor, landscaping, tree removal, exterior and interior painting. There are also other weightier concerns that we probably do not think about on a daily basis such as brick and mortar repair, caulking repair, chimney repair, ductwork replacement, foundation repair, installation and cleaning of gutters and downspouts, replacement of roof shingles, termite inspection, water heater replacement and of course, the gamut of electrical and plumbing problems that will always invariably occur.
When budgeting and saving for home maintenance, some homeowners might be tempted to pay for these costs on credit cards. This is a poor strategy that should be avoided. There will always be more home repairs on the horizon. It is part of the process of being a homeowner. Furthermore, home maintenance service and repair fees will likely increase over time. Putting these expenses on your credit cards and incurring additional debt will lead to even more complicated personal and financial problems down the road. Getting a home equity line of credit is not a panacea either since lenders have tightened up considerably in recent years. More debt is not the solution.
The only effective preventive measure to keep home maintenance costs from spiraling out of control is being an alert and interested homeowner. You can open a home maintenance checking or savings account and contribute a fixed amount monthly. Aside from diligently saving, take the time to do regular inspections of your home; like checking the gutters to make sure they are unobstructed and the basement to look for moisture after heavy rain. Tackling routine home maintenance problems in the early stage, can prevent a $200 problem from escalating into a $5000 migraine.
For informational purposes only.