Whether you live in a home you own or rent it out for income, you’re no doubt aware that your out-of-pocket costs can well surpass the amount you pay in a monthly mortgage and property taxes. Maintenance is a huge expense for property owners, and when things go wrong, and you cross into “repairs” territory, the costs can be downright astronomical. Here are a few painfully expensive repairs — along with their estimated costs that could wreak havoc on your finances if you’re not careful.
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Like plumbing problems, electrical issues are hidden within the walls, making them hard to DIY.
Add in the safety factor, and it’s easy to see why electrical problems are best dealt with by a professional. This is another fix you just can’t put off, as electrical problems can cause a fire.
Hire an electrician to do annual checkups of your wiring. In the meantime, keep your eye out for red flags.
These may include flickering lights and circuit breakers that trip frequently. If your appliances or wall sockets give you a shock, it’s time to call in professional help.
Fixing a Broken Water or Sewer Line
As a homeowner, you never, ever want to see your water or sewer line face to face. If you are staring directly at one of these large pipes — typically buried several feet below your front lawn — then something has gone terribly wrong.
Your water and sewer lines connect your home to the public water and sewage systems (assuming you don’t have your own septic tank). Your city or town’s liability for the system ends at the street; homeowners are responsible for the length of pipe underneath their property. The cost of physically repairing or replacing broken water or sewage line isn’t going to break the bank — somewhere between $1,000 and $2,000. What’s really going to cost you is cleaning up the mess.
When the main water line breaks, it creates an underground flood that seeps up to your lawn, creating huge marsh-like puddles. To get to the source of the leak, crews will have to excavate into your lawn and possibly under trees and driveways. After you pay for repairing the waterline, you’ll pay to replace the section of driveway and re-landscape the lawn, another several thousand dollars literally down the drain.
If you own an old house, it’s smart to carry water and sewer line insurance and to have your lines inspected annually for any signs of leaks or cracks. Also, check with the water and sewage utility company before digging deep into your lawn for a landscaping or home improvement project. You’d hate to crack that pipe yourself.
Fixing Damage from Fallen Trees
That towering white oak tree in your front yard sprouted from an acorn when your great-great-great-grandmother was in diapers. It provides cooling shade in the summer and adds thousands of dollars to your property value, not to mention it’s majestic and beautiful. But under the wrong conditions — high winds, lightning or heavy ice and snow — falling limbs from that beloved oak tree could cause serious damage to your house or vehicles. If your homeowner’s insurance is stingy, you could end up paying tens of thousands of dollars out of pocket for repairs.
Again, an ounce of prevention is worth a metric ton of cure. For large trees like mature oaks and elms, call in a professional tree service to inspect and prune the tree every few years. The tree service folks will be able to spot and diagnose disease problems that could weaken the tree and expose it to strong winds. They can also cut back limbs that are growing dangerously close to the house or use cables to strengthen limbs and trunks against stormy weather.
Fixing a Foundation
Foundation repair costs can be ruthless! Repairs typically start and $10,000 and can go as high as $40,000.
Foundation problems often result from expansive clay, badly compacted fill soils, or poor maintenance. Symptoms of a foundation problem are cracks and wall damage. Sometimes doors become impossible to close.
If these signs occur, even us DIYers know to go to the pros because failing to fix these issues properly and in a timely fashion can result in a financial nightmare down the line. The more you wait, the worse the issue will get for you and your family – both physically and monetarily.
Here is a cost breakdown for foundation repairs…
Cracks – $250 – $800.
Large cracks are a cause for concern. Your foundation might be sinking, or the soil around it is exerting too much pressure on it. That would typically compel you to hire a structural engineer to inspect the problem.
However, if the crack does not touch on the structure, you can breathe a sigh of relief. These are easy to fix with epoxy. A word of caution: never ignore any crack, no matter how small.
Leaks – $2,000-$6,000
Water damage is a costly mistake, or accident for that matter. It can jeopardize the whole foundation. It often starts with drainage problems. You will need thorough, waterproofing techniques to fix this issue and safeguard the foundation structure.
The key is to seal your foundation. It can be via excavation of the areas around the foundation and installation of new tile drains. Then, any cracks will need to be sealed with cement, and the structure will need to be coated with a good sealant. Having a consultation with a contractor along with the materials, equipment, and labour are what cause this repair to balloon in price and add up to thousands of dollars.
Sinking foundations – Mudjacking for $500-$1,300 or pier leveling for $1,000-$3,000.
A sinking foundation is a problem that requires immediate and urgent attention. Further settling can cause untold damage and structural instability. Signs of a settling foundation include serious cracks and leaks. Regular inspection can help you avoid this tricky situation.
The repair process involves levelling. You will need to raise the foundation and secure it with mud jacking or piers. Before that, however, you need to address the cause, which usually is soil or moisture. Unfortunately, every aspect of this inspection and correction is costly. Hitch Property Constructions has the best range of renovations services to help you create your dream house.
Bowing basement walls – $350-$1,000
Bowing basement walls is a huge concern in areas with expansive clay. Bowing basement walls can drastically lower your home’s value, and it is also a significant safety risk. Stabilizing the walls with steel or carbon fibre reinforcements is a must.
Grading and ponding issues
If large amounts of water tend to pool in your yard or driveway every time it rains, it could be that you have a grading issue on your hands that needs to be resolved. The average cost of re-sloping or regrading a lawn costs between $974 and $2,950, but if you’re dealing with a larger property and a more extensive slope, your costs could easily be five times that amount. And if retaining walls become necessary, your costs could be ten times that estimate.
Mould damage doesn’t happen overnight, but if left unaddressed, it can result in huge health problems for the inhabitants of your home. And as a landlord, it’s your obligation to remediate mould that could be impacting your tenants’ health. Mould remediation costs an average of $2,229, but in reality, the extent of your damage and the size of your home will play a large role in determining what it costs you.
The cost of repairing or reinstalling pipes can strain your budget due to the labour costs involved. Pipes can be hard to access, as most are undergrounds or hidden in the walls.
Piping issues are especially common in older homes with copper or cast iron lines. Often, tree roots can grow into pipes, shifting soil may cause collapse, or temperature changes cause pipes to freeze and burst.
Left untreated, plumbing problems can cause serious water damage, so it’s best to fix them immediately.
Unfortunately, plumbing issues aren’t usually very DIY-friendly. Signs of plumbing issues may include:
- Knocking noises
- Flaking or discolouration in exposed piping
- “Rusty” water
Prevent problems by insulating pipes during the colder months. Avoid using chemical products to unclog drains.
Every couple of years, hire a professional plumber to clean out your sewer lines.
Sometimes I wonder if it would be cheaper to install a giant retractable umbrella over the entire house rather than deal with the constant threat of water damage. If your home is partially or fully covered in wood, aluminium or vinyl siding, water can sneak past damaged sections, leading to rot, insect invasions and interior damage. Spot repairs to individual panels of siding usually won’t cost more than a couple of hundred dollars, but a full-on replacement of your entire square footage can run on average $10,000.
To protect yourself, do a thorough walk-around of your house every six months, looking for cracks or holes in the siding, plus missing or damaged caulking around windows and doors. Also, ensure that all tree branches are a few feet away from the side of the home. Nothing can rip off a piece of siding like a storm-tossed branch. Wood siding is much more susceptible to rot and insect damage than aluminium or vinyl, so look closely for peeled paint and pockmarked sections. When you replace a section of siding, first lay down some waterproof polyethylene paper-like Tyvek to prevent future leaks.
Replacing a Deck
A wooden deck adds value to your home and provides the perfect setting for summer cookouts. But if you fall behind on routine maintenance, your deck could fall prey to rot or fall apart completely. The cost of maintaining a deck is less than $100 a year, but the average cost of replacing it from the ground up is $7,000 to $10,000.
The first step to maintaining a healthy deck is to keep it clean. In the spring, clear out all leaves and twigs from between the floorboards and scrub down every wood surface with a purchased deck cleaning solution or a homemade mix of bleach and water. Once the deck dries, either apply a wood stain to refresh the colour or go straight to the sealant. The sealant is what keeps moisture out of your wood and prevents rot.
At least once a year, conduct a full inspection for any sign of rot. Use a screwdriver and poke the wood gently to find soft spots. (If you can push the screwdriver more than a 1/4 inch or 6 millimetres into the wood, you have rot). Pay particular attention to the support posts and joists beneath the deck. Inspect the bottom few inches of support posts where they meet the ground and come into contact with water. If you find anything that doesn’t look right, call in a carpenter to take a look.
Replacing a Driveway
Installing a new driveway can set you back $5,000.
Driveways often give way to the pressure of time and weather. These surfaces always have to withstand the heavyweight of vehicles and suffer the blow of snow, rain, and extreme heat. After some time, you will start to see cracking that can escalate to crumbling if left unfixed.
Here is a cost breakdown for driveway repairs…
Concrete is a popular driveway material. It is loved for its strength and durability. Cracks can be repaired with rubberized or plastic fillers. These often cost up to $0.15 per linear foot. For many homeowners, installing a brand new driveway is likely to be cheaper in the long run than making a lot of regular repairs. In that case, the labour costs would be about $1,700 for 750 square feet.
Asphalt is prone to fissures. You can fix these yourself, and it can cost $2.00-$2.50 per square foot for sealants. Potholes and sinkholes are where the rubber meets the road. Potholes result from unrepaired cracks or improperly constructed foundations. You might need professional assistance with these. Overall, be sure to budget $1,000-$3,000 for asphalt driveways repairs. It adds up.
Although very durable, bricks are also prone to damage and breakage. You can replace the damaged bricks and level the sunken ones. A single block can go for $0.35-$0.75, and sand usually costs up to $30 for a 50-pound bag. If you hire a pro to do it, it typically costs $850 for brickwork.
In the cold winter months, heated driveways deliver an unmatched convenience to homeowners. Fixing a heated driveway is a costly affair and time consuming as well. You will want to consult with a professional on this one. Generally, the replacement costs will be between $2,000 and $25,000. I know, that’s a huge range, but the exact cost depends on the material in question and the type of damage. Expect to pay a lot of money for this repair.
Repairing Fire or Smoke Damage
More than a third of American homes use a fireplace or wood stove as a primary heat source. But sadly, 36 per cent of home fires in rural areas of the U.S. are sparked by faulty fireplaces, causing millions of dollars’ worth of damage and sometimes loss of life [source: U.S. Fire Administration].
The good news is that you can protect your family and your home from smoke and fire damage by taking some simple safety precautions. The first and most important step is to keep your chimney clean. Have a chimney sweep inspect and clean your fireplace and chimney at least once a year. Make sure the chimney cap — the metal sheet covering the top opening of the chimney — is in place and that no bird nests or debris are clogging the opening.
When the fireplace is empty and clean, open the damper and look up through the chimney. You should be able to see daylight. If not, you could have a dangerous buildup of creosote — partially burned wood ash — clogging the flue. Creosote is highly flammable and can cause a chimney fire that can spread to the rest of the house.
One of the best protection against a house fire is also the easiest — replace the batteries in your smoke detectors at least twice a year.
Replacing an HVAC Unit
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation and air conditioning. It’s also shorthand for “Here’s my Visa and cash.” If you don’t properly maintain your furnace and air conditioning units, they could require expensive repairs or die altogether. A gas furnace alone costs between $1,000 and $2,000 at Home Depot, but you’ll pay between $4,000 and $8,000 for a professional furnace installation.
The best way to avoid a furnace or air conditioner failure is to conduct maintenance on your units every six months. An HVAC professional will come to your home and run through a checklist that includes lubricating all moving parts, tightening electrical connections, clearing out the condensate drain in the air conditioner, checking the refrigerant level and cleaning any dirty coils or fixtures. Left alone, any of these issues will lower the efficiency of your system and cause premature wear on components.
Another thing you can do to improve the efficiency and longevity of your HVAC system — plus improve air quality in your home — is to replace the air filter at least once every 90 days. You might want to replace it more frequently if you have allergies or pets. The pros recommend the newer high-efficiency pleated filters.
Replacing a Septic System
If you live out in the country beyond the reach of a municipal sewage system, you probably have a septic tank on your property. Septic tanks work just like a city’s sewage treatment facility, separating the solids and fats from household waste and allowing the leftover liquid to seep into a drain field where beneficial bacteria complete the process.
Septic systems require some special care and maintenance that city folk take for granted. If you flush the wrong chemicals down the drain or fail to pump out your tank, you could end up with a system-wide failure. The cost of digging up the old system and installing a new one could cost anywhere from $2,000 to more than $15,000.
Therefore, you should have your septic system inspected annually by a professional. He will check the water level in your tank and measure the level of solids on the bottom and greasy scum on the top (lovely job, isn’t it?). In general, the inspector will advise that you pump out the tank every three to five years, but it could be more often depending on your household. For example, using a garbage disposal in your sink adds more solids to the system.
In between inspections, look for signs of septic troubles, including:
- Backed-up toilets and foul smells in the house
- Standing water or wet soil in the yard above the tank or drain field
- A patch of bright green grass above the septic tank
These symptoms could point to clogs or leaks in the system.
While you’re busy defending your foundation against water damage, don’t forget about the roof. Just like the foundation, it is highly susceptible to leaks, rotting or worse. Lost shingles and spot leaks are easy enough to fix for a few hundred dollars, but if the damage is too extensive — or dangerous — you might have to replace the entire roof. That could run you between $3,000 and $12,000, plus the cost of removing the old roofing materials and fixing any damage to the interior of the home.
Again, prevention and regular maintenance are key to avoiding costly roof repairs. Make a careful review of your roof at least twice a year, perhaps while you’re up there cleaning the gutters. Look for missing shingles, tears and other damage. Also, pay close attention to the flashing around the chimney and exhaust vents. Flashing is a metal or plastic sheeting that provides a watertight seal over the cracks between the chimney and the roof surface. If sections of flashing are missing or damaged, they need to be replaced immediately.
If you have an unfinished attic, carefully inspect the wood panels directly under the roof for signs of moisture, mould, algae or active leaks. If you have a finished attic, look for signs of water seepage like bubbled paint on the walls or stains on the ceiling. It’s better to pay for a quick repair than to let a slow leak turn into a total nightmare.
Windows and Doors
Replacing doors and windows is another one of those expensive home repairs that you’ll probably only have to do once in your lifetime unless you live in multiple houses, or plan to complete a full home remodel at some point. The seals on windows, as well as the weather stripping, will eventually wear out. While you can repair these faults, eventually the structure will wear out and necessitate a full replacement.
Signs that you need a replacement include drafts, especially during windy or cold weather, difficulty opening or closing windows and condensation between double panes. The wide range in prices is tied to the number of windows and doors that require replacement, as well as the many efficiencies and security options available on new doors and windows today. Looking for home renovations Melbourne? Look no further! Hitch Property Constructions has you covered.
Home repairs Tips
Major home repairs can be hard to predict, especially if it’s been years since you bought your property and had it inspected by a professional for lurking problems. And generally, your homeowner’s insurance policy won’t pay for repairs resulting from wear and tear, which many of the above circumstances entail.
That’s why it’s crucial to have emergency savings on hand. You may have heard that a solid emergency fund is one with enough money to cover three to six months of essential bills. Still, those figures better align with a scenario where you’ve been laid off from a job and need money to pay your living expenses while you look for work. As a homeowner, it’s a smart idea to have a dedicated savings account earmarked for unforeseen home repairs — and a healthy one at that. And if you own multiple properties, you’ll want even more money in savings.
As a general rule, you can expect to spend the equivalent of 1% to 4% of your home’s value on annual maintenance. For a $300,000 property, you’re therefore looking at $3,000 to $12,000 per year. A newer home will usually lean toward the lower end of that range while an older home will skew toward the top. If your home is between 10 and 20 years old, you’ll probably fall somewhere in the middle.
Suppose you don’t have emergency savings and are hit with a sudden home repair. In that case, your next best option could be to borrow against the equity you have in your property to cover your costs, whether via a home equity loan or a home equity line of credit. A personal loan is also an option, though you’ll generally pay more in interest than you will on a home equity loan. And you really don’t want to fall back on credit cards, since they tend to charge loads of interest.
While some home repairs are unavoidable, sometimes, you can get ahead of them with proper maintenance and vigilance. Maintaining your air conditioning system and septic tank, for example, could help you avoid a scenario where you’re suddenly dealing with a full-fledged replacement. And if you own income properties, encourage your tenants to report problems right away, so they don’t escalate into larger, costlier ones.