The ongoing expenses for home maintenance can get lost in the budget among more prominent payments like mortgage, insurance, debt reduction and household bills, but in the course of multiple years, those hidden expenses can really add up. Here are some ways to reduce those costs.
First, the most basic and effective strategy is to identify your largest maintenance expense and reduce that single expenditure. Depending on the age, construction, location, and contents of your home, this could be something like the electrical, plumbing, roof, siding, flooring or appliances. Here are some average costs.
Hot water heaters can burst or stop working without warning, and you’re looking at $300 – $900 for a new one, plus $250 for installation. Drafty windows will end up costing you in heating and cooling bills, so they’ll need to be replaced at an average cost of about $400 apiece. Speaking of heating and cooling, repairing the typical HVAC system costs about $300, while a replacement can run $5,000. Finally, replacing exterior siding can reach $8000 or more for materials alone, plus installation and disposal charges that can easily bring it into the five-figure range.
Second, get some budget planning software or make up a system for tracking your expenditures over time. It’s important to track each expense because they add up over the course of many years.
Let’s say your ranch style home has a troublesome roof due to bad original construction, a large surface area, harsh weather and some troublesome overhanging trees that promote moss growth. So in 2018, you have the old roof torn off and a new asphalt shingle roof installed. The materials cost $4,000 and the professional roofers charged $10,000. You hardly miss the fact that $14,000 is a lot of money, but you tell yourself that roofs last many years. That’s true, but by the time 2030 comes around, without tracking your long-term expenses, you will have long forgotten that huge bill for the new roof. However, your asphalt shingle roof will only last about 20 years. That adds up to $700 per year, and in 2030, you’ll need a new one in only 8 years.
Third, keep an eye on the condition of your house and surroundings. Inspect your roof with a pair of binoculars for loose shingles, moss or puddles. Make sure the grading of the soil surrounding your home slopes away at least six inches per 10 feet. Check for cracks in your foundation and recheck for movement of those cracks over the following months using an indelible marker.
As a final point, when you perform maintenance or repairs, do the job right. Use quality materials and, if you can afford it, hire a licensed contractor to do the work.
Take the garage door, for instance. “Your garage door is the largest piece of equipment in your home with several moving parts and may be used several times a day. Over time and if not properly serviced and maintained, your door will eventually give you problems,” says Garrett Waldrop of National Garage Door, a garage door repair company in Atlanta. Anything less than top quality work will end up costing you more in the long run.