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How To Budget For Home Maintenance

Consistent Funding for Home Repairs and Upgrades Methodically

© 2016 by Kelly Smith; all rights reserved; content may not be copied, rewritten, or republished without written permission. Author’s Google profile

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This article was updated on 05/13/20

When you set out to buy a home, there are a multitude of costs to think about aside from the basic mortgage. For example, regular home maintenance is always a component of your monthly budget. Improvements large and small include critical repairs like appliance servicing and minor ones such as caulking around the windows.

Likewise, hiring lawn care specialists, or home cleaning projects like steam cleaning the carpets, might seem minor but can add up quickly because they are routine tasks. When counting up home maintenance costs, it’s important to keep these factors in mind.

Should You Hire a Professional or DIY?

It is a common assumption that making repairs and home improvements yourself will save tons of cash, and it is usually true, but that is not always reality. Some residential maintenance, such as regular cleaning, yard work, or maintaining appliances in tip-top condition, may be easily handled by you and ought to be a regular part of your monthly home maintenance routine.

However, many other tasks such as repairing the roof or inspecting your attic may be too dangerous for the novice homeowner. Many mechanical appliances, such as a gas-powered furnace, must always be serviced and repaired by a licensed professional.

When homeowners hop on residential repairs that are beyond their skill set, or jobs that call for expensive tools or equipment, they often end up adding more to their expenditures than if they had called a professional in the first place.

But if you are seriously looking for ways to do your own home maintenance, peruse this concise collection of monthly maintenance tasks.

What is a Reasonable Amount to Spend on Home Maintenance?

In general, annual residential maintenance costs vary according to the age of your home, the amount of wear and tear, and the physical state of your home when purchased. Obviously, a new home will need less expensive maintenance as compared with a 50 year old home that is in need of a new roof, a resurfaced driveway, or electrical upgrades to bring it up to code.

That said, many experts concur that allocating something in the ball park of 1% - 2% of your home’s purchase price on a yearly basis will help cover your basic home repairs as well as helping you save for major upgrades such as a new furnace or a new ceramic tile floor.

Homeowners residing in a $600,000 home, for instance, would do well to set aside approximately $6,000 every year for improvements. Chances are they might not need to spend that money every year but it’s worth bearing in mind that some repairs, such as a new roof, can cost 3 to 4 times that amount. With this in mind, it makes sense to let the maintenance fund balance roll over from year to year until it is needed.

Many homeowners find it handy to maintain a separate bank account just for home maintenance. Not mingling this money with other money makes it easy to make sure you are putting away enough and letting the balance roll over is not an issue.

Some Factors That Affect Your Home Maintenance Budget

Many factors can have an impact on your home maintenance or repair budget:

  • The size of your home. Obviously, a larger home requires more funds to keep up than a smaller one. Bigger homes encompass more surface area to paint, scrub, or cover. Bigger houses also contain more furniture, which also needs to be maintained periodically.

    A greater number of light bulbs, windows, and other things certainly add up. And don’t forget heating and electrical costs. If you’re already on a close budget, you may want to downgrade to a home containing fewer rooms or less square footage.

    The same may be said about the overall size of the property and how detailed the landscape is. A larger yard, for instance, will require more time and money to maintain it in good condition. A very large vegetable garden or ornamental landscaping area will require periodic mulching.

  • Environment and location. Wide ranges in temperature, frequent tornadoes, winter storms, or hot, dry conditions will all contribute to further wear and tear on your home. If your home is located in a wet, humid environment, you will need to expend more funds for power washing your driveway and performing moss control.

    If you live in a flood plain or a location that experiences frequent snow storms you can look forward to more water damage to your house and property. Laying away funds for weather-related events or keeping up with proactive steps to mitigate potential threats to your home is a prudent method in addressing these issues.

  • The age of home. The older your home is, the more likely it is that it will require a lot of work to keep up. Older houses usually require many upgrades to help you save money in the long run.

    Installing modern, energy efficient windows, for instance, beefing up with new insulation, upgrading your fixtures, and repairing walkways and ther driveway might be required to make your home feel safe. An older home can also require updates to keep it current with newer building codes.

  • The condition of your home. An older home that has been taken care of throughout the years will most likely not need as much work as compared to a newer home that has not been as well maintained.

    Homeowners that make a habit of keeping up with repairs, that invest in their property, and upgrade appliances when needed can enjoy a home that lasts a and lasts. Keep in mind that certain components, such as hardwood floors, can easily last for over 100 years. The bottom line is that taking care of what you have, bit by bit as required, will go a long way towards saving you money.
  • Replacement of large appliances. There's no getting around it -- at some point some fundamental but expensive appliances will have to be replaced. For example, HVAC systems go badly slowly over time; they also require servicing twice a year. Another consideration is that the old freon is being phased out and a unit charge will be very, very expensive.

There are considerations on how to budget for home maintenance. The takeaway here is to keep an idea of what needs to be done on a periodic basis but also sock away some cash for those unexpected BIG things that arise.

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About the Author:

Photo of Kelly R. SmithKelly R. Smith is an Air Force veteran and was a commercial carpenter for 20 years before returning to night school at the University of Houston where he earned a Bachelor’s Degree in Computer Science. After working at NASA for a few years, he went on to develop software for the transportation, financial, and energy-trading industries. He has been writing, in one capacity or another, since he could hold a pencil. As a freelance writer now, he specializes in producing articles and blog content for a variety of clients. His personal blog is at I Can Fix Up My Home Blog where he muses on many different topics.

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