Owning a home can be expensive, and the maintenance costs of homeownership can be tricky to anticipate when buying property. Whether it’s leaking pipes, old roofing, or even a garage door in desperate need of repair, there are a variety of factors that play into the overall costs of owning a home. Because there's no way to gauge exactly what repairs will be needed when, it's best to prepare yourself on how to make repairs more affordable.
Consider the Costs
Homeowners need to be prepared for the maintenance and renovation costs that can sometimes add up to more than the monthly mortgage, and that’s not factoring in other costs like HOA fees and utility bills. Where you live matters too, as cost of living plays into how much you will pay for repairs. For example, replacing a roof will run you more in high-cost cities than elsewhere. You’ll also have to take into consideration the condition of your home when you buy it and the quality of materials that were used to build it.
Before You Buy
You can find answers to some of these questions by hiring a highly rated home inspector to help you give an idea of its condition and help protect you from buying a money pit. Once you do make a purchase, you should prepare a budget based on your home’s age and quality and then put aside income to cover the inevitable costs associated with home repair. While every situation is unique, it’s safe to assume that you’ll spend 1-2 percent of your home’s value on repairs annually. To figure out your home’s value, you can consult a home-value estimator online.
Like anything in life, the unknown has a way a popping up. With home ownership, it’s not a matter of if, but when things will break. Being prepared by budgeting for emergency work can keep you from overextending yourself financially and put you in a position to better manage the unexpected when it arises. To buffer for a financial emergency, make a point to build an emergency fund. Set a monthly savings goal, put loose change aside in a savings jar, repurpose your tax refund, or cut any unnecessary expenses by carpooling and cooking more at home. You might be surprised at how much you save with these simple suggestions and how far that money will go toward helping you weather the storm during an unexpected emergency home repair.
Shop for a Contractor
When the time comes to hire someone for major repairs, you want to find a qualified contractor who has your best interests in mind. When looking for a contractor, start with referrals from family and friends. This will allow you to hear firsthand about the quality of work and the overall experience from someone you know and trust. From there, you can gather estimates from reputable contractors.
For major jobs, like roof repair or replacement, you should always put together a list of questions to ask the contractor. Compiling a list will help you better understand the scope of the work and will alert you to any potential red flags, like verbal quotes, upfront payments, and other scare tactics. Having trust in your contractor can be just as important as the work itself. While your budget will heavily factor into who you hire, sometimes the extra cost for someone you’re comfortable with is worth the price.
While the cost of owning a home can be expensive, it should not be a deterrent. Homes are a worthy investment to those who are willing to put in the time and be patient with the process. If you are prepared to handle the costs of repairs and find the right people to assist you with major fixes, you’ll find it to be a positive experience in building equity.