As a new homeowner, you may not have a forgiving budget. You may have dumped your full savings into the down payment of your home, with the understanding that your first few years may be tight. Even if this isn’t the case, you’re probably interested in saving as much money as possible, increasing the financial return on your investment and shielding you from unnecessary financial risks.
Every home is going to require some degree of ongoing maintenance. Depending on several variables (including your home’s age), it’s generally safe to set aside 1 per cent of your home’s value in annual maintenance expenses. For example, if you purchased your home for $260,000, you’ll want to put aside about $2,600 a year in upkeep costs.
A home costs a lot of money over the years, whether you rent an apartment or buy a house. But the costs go up by a lot if you find yourself having to do major repairs — the bill a plumber or an electrician can send may quickly translate into a heart attack.
But an ounce of prevention really can be worth a pound of cure, just like Ben Franklin said. Putting time and effort into maintenance means that you’ll see it coming even if there is a problem. At the very least, it means you can save up for the repair work you know you’ll need to do.
Fortunately, there are several strategies you can use to reduce your total maintenance expenditures.
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Why Knowing Your Maintenance Costs is so Important
The annual costs of owning and maintaining a home can be a big part of your monthly expense budget and overall housing costs. Even if you hate budgeting and numbers, here are some critical reasons you can’t ignore them.
- You can pick a better home you can afford
- Saving time in your home search
- Timing your moves as you move up, and downsize housing
- Accurately calculating investment potential and returns
- Knowing what it will take to preserve your property’s value
- Getting a house that you’ll love and enjoy, versus being a stressful burden
- Choosing a property, you can afford to keep long term
Be a Savvy Home Buyer
Car manufacturers have increasingly begun to advertise and compare their products by the total operating costs they involve. You’ll now often see these stickers in the windows when you go car shopping. In real estate, this is something that more progressive green home builders are honing in on more often. Yet, most home buyers have no idea what their total costs will be. Not even at the time they make an offer or sign a purchase contract. Some not even at the time they close, sign the loan documents, fork over their cash, and get the keys. That’s like buying a phone for around the world trip, without knowing what your roaming and data charges will be. Maybe you’ve got a real unlimited plan that will be capped at $150 a month. Or you could come back to a $10,000 bill in your mailbox. What happens if you can’t afford that?
Home Maintenance Tips to Reduce Costs in the Long-Run
Get to know the lay of the land.
Your yard and surrounding areas can have a major impact on the maintenance of your home needs. If, for instance, you have plenty of trees surrounding your house, you’ll need to spend more time up on your roof, and you may even need to worry about some of your plumbing. It’s more than just your property, though: even if you’re living in an apartment, knowing the area around you can give you a head’s up if you run risks of flooding or other natural problems.
Do once-overs in the offseason.
Most people find problems with their furnaces when they turn up the heat on the first cold night of the fall — not a time when you want to be trying to get an HVAC repairman to come out. If you test out your furnace and your air conditioning a month or expect to need them, you can make sure everything’s in great shape and avoid the emergency visit fees.
Get an energy audit.
Taking a look at where the energy goes in your home can reveal easy fixes to save you money: something as simple as sealing a few cracks can dramatically change your electric bills (and you can take at least some of these steps in a rental). Such steps can also help you make some long-term decisions, like deciding what type of water heater you’ll buy when the current one is ready to retire.
Cut back on the grass.
While a lush, verdant lawn seems to be required in many neighbourhoods, it can drive up the time and expense you spend on maintaining your yard. There are a number of strategies that allow you to minimize the amount of grass in your yard, from xeriscaping to focusing on native plants. You’ll spend less time behind the mower (maybe even eliminating it) and have a lower water bill.
Share tools with your neighbours
One of the big expenses of doing home maintenance is making sure that you have the right tool for every job. Talking to your neighbours can make a difference. If you can share tools, you won’t need to buy them. That can stretch as far as big items like a lawnmower. While only one person may be able to mow their lawn at a time in your neighbourhood, the overall cost for buying and maintaining that lawnmower will be next to nothing.
Clean everything on a regular basis
Whether it’s a question of sweeping off the sidewalk or wiping down the air conditioner, keeping things clean reduces wear and tear. Dust can shorten the lifespan of anything with a vent or a filter. Giving appliances and the different parts of your house a regular once over can also help catch small issues before they become big problems. There isn’t a chance that you’ll notice a crack in a wall if you don’t go anywhere near that wall, after all.
Look for a handyman.
There are certain projects where, when you weigh the value of your time against the cost of hiring a handyman, and it simply makes sense to bring in someone who can do it in half the time it might take you to even find the resource that walks you through what to do. Build a long-term relationship with a handyman if you can — he’ll be able to point you to the right people for bigger projects, and he may even be willing to walk you through routine tasks so you’ll be able to handle them on your own.
Check out our Melbourne home repairs to help you to build your dream house.
Create a maintenance schedule
Telling yourself, you’ll get around to cleaning the gutters is the easiest way to make sure that you’ll never actually clean those gutters. Setting a schedule is the easiest way to keep up with each part of your home and, as long as you know what needs to be done, a schedule can help you keep your workload down. The alternative is devoting an entire weekend at a time to keeping up your home. It’s also worth creating a long-term plan for items like replacing appliances or remodelling.
Read the manual
Just about everything in your home has a manual, down to the water heater. Each of those manuals contains valuable information about recommended maintenance. In some cases, they may even have instructions for fixing common problems, saving you the expense of having someone come out and take a look at something you can manage on your own. If you don’t have your copies of the manuals, you can often find them online with a simple search.
Create a home maintenance fund
Just because maintenance doesn’t cost as much as repairs might, planning for the expenses is good financial sense. If your budget for your expenses, you can put yourself in a position to bring in a pro for some of those home maintenance projects that you either don’t like or aren’t comfortable — for me, that’s just about anything with a ladder. And while you can avoid many repairs, there can be accidents and having savings in place can keep repairs from becoming a major problem.
Why Home Maintenance Is Important
Owning a home requires a lot more responsibility than renting. If something breaks down, there’s no landlord to come and fix the problem; it’s in the owner’s hands. That means the responsibility of keeping a home clean and maintained is up to the homeowners. Your realtor, mortgage lender and everyone on the Internet has told you how important it is to keep your home maintained, as well as thousands of ways to do it. But why is it so important? Landmark’s main purpose is to help homeowners who have systems and appliances that fail from old age and normal wear and tear as a home warranty company. However, in our contract, we stipulate that if a system or appliance has failed because of lack of maintenance, it’s not considered “normal wear and tear.” You shouldn’t just maintain your home because of the benefits of a home warranty though (although that’s an excellent reason to do so!). There are a number of other reasons home maintenance is so important.
Home Maintenance Saves you money.
The first reason home maintenance is so important is that it saves you, the homeowner, money. “That can’t be right,” you’re thinking. “I spend so much of my time, money and energy cleaning and maintaining. How does that save me money?”
While it’s true, maintenance takes some money, dedication, and hard work, in the long run, you save much more money than if you didn’t do maintenance. Why is this? According to Your Money: The Missing Manual, for every dollar you spend on preventative maintenance around the home, you save approximately $100 in future repairs. That’s because taking care of small problems now (a dirty filter or clogged drain) makes it, so you don’t have the problem worsen over time and develop into a larger issue (a burned-out HVAC motor or burst pipe.) Those bigger problems that tend to crop up after not maintaining a home cost significantly more than a new furnace filter every month.
Home Maintenance Keeps Your Home Running Efficiently
The worst part of maintenance is that it’s just that: maintenance. It requires completing a task over and over again, and often, to provide upkeep for your home’s working parts. It’s just like sweeping the kitchen floor; you have to keep sweeping it every week or so to keep it clean. If you didn’t, imagine the state of the floor! Now think about how often you clean your dishwasher’s filter or unclog your bathroom drain … probably not as often as you sweep the floor, correct? Yet you probably use them almost as often as you use the floor.
Like you have to continue to sweep your floor to keep it usable and clean, you have to clean and maintain the other parts of your home to keep them usable. If you don’t, you will end up having your home run less efficient. If you don’t clean the furnace filter, you’ll be paying for more gas or electricity as your HVAC system works hard to cool or heat air in your home. If you don’t clean the evaporative coils under your fridge, it has a harder time keeping your food cool and uses more energy to do so. When you maintain your home, you keep it running efficiently, which also saves you money with lower utility bills.
Home Maintenance Increases your Home’s Value
When you drive a new car off of the lot, it immediately drops in value. The resale value decreases the longer you drive the car, and the older it becomes. This principle doesn’t work the same for a home. The longer you own a home, the more you could increase its worth. Of course, home values have to do with the market and not solely what you do to the house, but you can still have a direct effect on your home’s value by maintaining your house.
How does this work? If you decided to put your home up for sale tomorrow and hadn’t maintained any of your systems and appliances, you would find that the home inspection report would probably show that your home had many problems or potential problems. Buyers would either want a discounted rate depending on your home’s issues or ask you to replace or repair systems that may give them trouble in the future. Either way, you won’t be getting as much money out of the sell of the home as it could potentially be worth.
However, if you had maintained your systems and appliances as per the manufacturer’s instructions, the home inspector would find fewer issues you’d have to take care of while doing an inspection, and you’d most likely end up getting more money out of the home. Click here to learn more about home improvement projects that increase your home’s value the most.
Of course, the more home improvement and maintenance projects you do out of your pocket that increases your home’s value, the more equity you will have in the home.
We have an extensive range of home repairs Melbourne services at Hitch Property Constructions.
Home Warranties and Home Maintenance
Home warranties and home insurance don’t generally cover for breakdowns caused by lack of maintenance. You’d be hard-pressed to find a home insurance company that would cover for flooding in your attic or roof if it turns out you never cleaned out your gutters, which caused the flood. The same principle applies to a home warranty: if you never changed the filters for a year on your HVAC system and the fan burned out from too much strain, a home warranty generally wouldn’t cover the repairs or replacement. Why does a home warranty make you maintain your systems/appliances? You have to complete maintenance on your systems and appliances to keep them in good working condition and extend their lifespans. Most home warranty companies only repair or replace systems and appliances if the homeowner has tried to maintain them.
The great thing about a home warranty is that if you do your reasonable best to clean and maintain your systems and appliances in your home when they get old and wear out from age, you’ll be able to save thousands of dollars. A home warranty will repair or replace your old systems for a flat-rate service call fee.
If you haven’t yet bought a home and you’re preparing a budget, keep in mind that you can also reduce your home maintenance costs during the buying process. You could, for example, choose a home that’s been built within the last few years, so it will have suffered less wear and tear by the time you move in. You could also conduct a more thorough home inspection, checking every nook and cranny for potential problems—and avoiding deals that might cost you more than they’re worth.
There’s a lot more to the costs of owning property than the mortgage payment. How big and expensive that property is can directly influence these costs; so can the type of property you are buying. Fortunately, there are some ways to handle these numbers upfront better and keep them down in the future. A top Realtor can help you accurately estimate the cost of owning and maintaining different homes that you like, and find one that you’ll love, and offer the optimal combination of value and investment.