Homes need constant repair and maintenance to maintain their integrity. Unfortunately, those repairs come at a price, especially if they involve big projects that require professionals, and your homeowner’s insurance may not cover some of these projects. Read on to learn more about preventing major home issues, saving for repairs, and finding the best contractor to work on your home.
Home Maintenance and Repair Prevention
The best way to ensure you don’t have to fork over big bucks on a major repair is to stay on top of your home’s maintenance so you can see the problems before they spiral out of control and you end up needing to replace something entirely.
For instance, the cost of a new HVAC installation will cost you anywhere from $3,500 to $7,525, and that’s without the cost of the actual system, which is determined by the total square footage of your property. You can avoid pricey HVAC repairs and replacement with simple maintenance, like regularly changing your air filters and opting for filters with MERV ratings of 6 or higher to keep your system in working order for longer. If you have trouble remembering just when exactly you’re supposed to change your filter, consider enrolling in an air filter subscription plan. You can designate the size (or sizes) you need, ratings, and quantity before letting the provider know how often you’d like them mailed. You get a fresh filter plus a handy reminder– and it doesn’t cost any more than buying your filters at the hardware store.
Other ways to avoid expensive home repairs include:
- Use your bathroom fan to prevent mold and mildew buildup.
- Check your attic once a month for water leaks.
- Clean and drain gutters seasonally.
- Treat outdoor wood for rot and mildew.
- Clean kitchen exhaust fans and filters bi-annually.
- Check for signs of termites seasonally.
- Protect pipes from freezing.
Starting a Home Repairs Rainy-day Fund
Your home’s cash reserves for home repairs should be about 1 to 3 percent of your home value. Therefore, if your home is worth $500K, you’ll want to set aside $5,000 to $15,000. That may seem like a lot to save, but you can easily save $5,000 in as little as a year with some smart savings strategies:
- Try the 52-week savings challenges to pocket almost $1,400. Tip: reverse your savings so you start with $52 the first week and work your way down to $1– this makes it easier to save each week, and you’re putting fewer dollars away during the expensive holiday season.
- Create a weekly budget covering everything from living expenses to your fun funds– then cut $50 a week from that budget. By the end of the year, you’ll have an extra $2,600.
- Pick up a side gig to make that last $1,000. For instance, if you have a car, sign up to drive for a rideshare service, where you can make an average of $17.50 an hour. Driving just five hours a month will bank you over $85 extra a month, easily getting you to your $5,000 goal.
Finding the Best Contractor
Sometimes, all the preparations in the world can’t prevent a major home repair. In these cases, it’s great to have a trustworthy contractor on your side. The best resource you have for finding a contractor is your friends and neighbors. Ask around for recommendations until you have two to five that you can interview. Call them all and complete thorough phone interviews, asking them about their experience and what to expect if they take on your repair. Meet face to face with those you have a good feeling about, and have them come over and give estimates for your project. Have everything you agree upon in writing before the project starts as well as a work schedule to avoid any confusion during the project. If your work goes well, hold on to that contractor’s information to pare down the process next time you need a major repair.
Owning a home requires constant investment– if not in time for maintenance, then in cash for repairs. Prevent major renovations by staying on top of your home’s needs and checking for potential damage. Homeowners should also have a rainy-day fund to cover repairs should they be needed. Finally, be thorough when looking for a contractor, and you’ll be less likely to have to research specialists the next time you need a repair.