By Julian Lane, The Fix It Champ
When you buy a house, it’s easy to forget that the costs of home ownership go beyond
mortgage payments. Houses can be fragile things, especially in the face of harsh, unpredictable
weather, so you will inevitably have to spend some money on maintenance and repairs. These
costs can seem hugely intimidating, but there are ways to keep them under control.
Knowing When to Call in a Pro
Some repairs are obvious; it’s easy to know if your HVAC is broken or if a faucet is leaking.
However, some signs of damage are a bit more subtle, so it’s up to you as an owner to check
whether everything in your home is in working order.
For example, you should know the potential signs of roof damage, such as water stains on the
ceiling and curling, cracked, damaged, or fallen shingles. Similarly, the signs of a foundation
problem are not necessarily obvious, including jamming doors and sticking windows. Inform
yourself on what to look out for and you will minimize big, expensive repairs.
Budgeting for Emergency Repairs
There is nothing worse than a sudden emergency repair bill, especially since these tend to
come up at the most inconvenient times. When it comes to financing these repairs, there are
smart ways and not-so-smart ways to proceed.
Avoid spending money you need for other things, such as rent or bills, and resist the temptation
to pull out your credit card. Above all, don’t go to a last-resort money lender, as this almost
never proves to be a smart financial decision.
Ideally, you should have a fund for this type of emergency; the experts at Gen X Finance
recommend setting aside 10 percent of your mortgage payment every month. If you don’t have
one and need the money now, consider a personal loan or a home equity line of credit, both of
which are better than credit card debt.
Home repair insurance is another option since it covers many of the wear-and-tear damage that
homeowners insurance does not. This can be expensive, but it can be a good choice if many of
your appliances are nearing the end of their life expectancy.
Finding Good Contractors
Don’t just go with the cheapest option when it comes to contractors. It’s almost always worth
paying a bit more for a reliable contractor with plenty of good reviews. This ensures that you
won’t end up with a bigger, more stressful bill when something goes wrong down the line. There
are many ways to ensure you are hiring a true professional, from getting recommendations to
carrying out interviews and setting out everything in writing.
Of course, you won’t always require a contractor. Some home repairs, such as patching drywall
or unclogging a faucet, can be done by anyone — even those folks with minimal DIY skills.
However, most major repairs, as well as anything involving electrical, roofing, or advanced
plumbing, should always be left to the professionals.
Basic Home Maintenance
One of the easiest ways to keep repair costs down is to simply prevent the damage in the first
place. Regular home maintenance can help keep your house in good health, minimize wear and
tear, and identify small issues before they become big ones.
Better Homes and Gardens has an excellent and comprehensive home maintenance checklist,
including tasks you should carry out monthly and seasonally. This is especially important in a
climate like Boston, where dramatic winter weather can easily take a toll on your home.
Your home is probably the biggest investment you’ll ever make, so it makes sense to keep it in
great condition. Regular maintenance combined with fast response in case of an emergency
should be enough to keep your house healthy and safe. In the meantime, brush up on your
basic DIY, inform yourself on warning signs, and know how you plan to tackle a big repair bill.
Gen X Finance
Home repair insurance
can be done
home maintenance checklist