By Guest blogger, Julian Lane Julian’s goal for every project is to make the job look like a professional did it. Between trial and error and searching the Internet for the best tips, he is obsessed with little touches that set projects apart from the DIY masses.TheFixItChamp.com is Julian’s way of sharing quality DIY resources along with safety and a touch of design.
Maintaining a home isn’t cheap but neglecting home repairs leads to major financial regret. Putting off repairs and maintenance is the number one way to sink your home’s value. Even if you don’t plan to sell, neglecting upkeep could make your home an unsafe and unpleasant place to live.
Financial preparation is the key to affording home repairs and improvements on schedule, but many homeowners don’t know how much to set aside for their home. If you save too much, you’re losing opportunity costs by holding onto cash that could be invested. But if you don’t save enough, you won’t have the money to pay for major repairs when they’re needed.
How Much to Save for Home Repairs
A good rule of thumb is to calculate 10 percent of your mortgage payment (principal plus interest), and put that amount in a high-yield savings account each month. A high-yield savings account is a smart choice, because you can earn up to 2.45% APY on your account balance, compared to less than 0.1% APY on a traditional savings account.
Consider the Age of Your Home’s Systems
You may need to save more aggressively if your home’s major systems are older. Most major home systems and appliances have predictable lifespans: asphalt roofs last 20 years, air conditioners 10-15 years, and furnaces 10-11 years.
If you purchased a home knowing major systems would be due for replacement soon, save a higher percentage until you have enough to pay for upcoming repairs. Keep in mind that prices vary a lot depending on the quality of the system. If you budget for a low-end air conditioner, which runs around $3,000, expect to replace it sooner than you would a higher-quality system. Sometimes, spending more up front saves you money and headache over the life of your home. You don’t have to splurge for a $10,000 air conditioner, but aiming for a mid-range system will get you more bang for your buck than choosing the cheapest model possible.
One more thing: If your home’s previous owner didn’t keep up with maintenance, expect these systems to fail earlier than is typical. Your home inspection should give clues as to how well the last owners maintained the home.
Saving Money with DIY
Don’t fall into the trap of thinking you can save less for home repairs because you’re handy around the house. Your home improvement skills are a great asset when it comes to minor repairs and routine maintenance, but the most expensive home repairs aren’t appropriate for DIY. If you try to tackle a major project like foundation repair on your own, you could damage to your home, costing you more in the long run.
How to Hire the Best Contractors for the Job
Cost is a major concern for homeowners shopping for a home repair contractor. When you’re already spending thousands of dollars on a repair, the last thing you want is to part with more money than you have to. However, cost shouldn’t be the only consideration when hiring contractors.
If you choose the cheapest contractor without factoring in their experience and qualifications, you risk getting ripped off entirely. There’s no shortage of unscrupulous handymen who will take your money and perform shoddy work, trick you into spending more than you have to, or disappear with your money entirely. If you’re only looking at the quoted price, you might miss signs that you’re getting scammed.
In addition to price, look at how thorough a contractor’s bid is, ask for information on licensing and insurance, and don’t be afraid to request references from prior customers. Your choice of contractor affects the value of your home, so it’s worth doing your homework to hire a company you trust.
Now that you know how to prepare for home repairs, it’s time to crunch numbers for your own house. Make a list of all your home’s systems and appliances, then note their age and what it will cost to repair or replace them when it’s time. By gathering this information now, you avoid an expensive surprise when your home needs its first major repair.
If you are looking for energy efficiency upgrades or other environmental features, contact Sow Green for referrals of the right contractors.