You did it! You crossed the finish line by buying a home! Now you can let your finances relax, right?
Not exactly. One of the most common problems new homeowners have is that they don’t realize how expensive home maintenance is.
In fact, experts say to expect to spend $1 per square foot every year on repairs and maintenance expenses. If you have a 2,000-square-foot home, that’s $2,000 each year.
Of course, not all homeowners spend the same. Check out these tips to keep your costs as low as possible.
1. Know When to DIY and When to Hire a Pro
Allow us to put an end to one of the most common homeowner myths: DIY repairs aren’t always cheaper. You need to do the math for any project and decide when it’s better to do it yourself and when it’s better to hire a professional.
First of all, you need to be sure about what the problem is. If you try a DIY repair based on your best guess, you could end up doing more harm than good.
If you know the issue, there are two ways to know if you can or should handle it yourself. First, look up the exact process for how to fix it. If you’re confident you can follow all those steps correctly, you can give it a try.
Second, you need to do a real price comparison. Some repairs require specialized equipment or materials. While a professional already has them, it would cost you money to rent or buy them. It may be cheaper to hire a professional.
Remember that safety is a top priority too. If your repair involves any dangers like electrical work or getting onto your roof, it’s better to hire someone who has the expertise and tools to be safe.
2. Don’t Ignore Water
As harmless as water is in most situations, it’s one of the most expensive problems your home can have. It can lead to rot, discoloration, mold, and much more.
If you notice water anywhere it shouldn’t be, you need to fix the problem as soon as possible. Call a plumber for leak detection to identify the exact issue.
The longer you wait, the more damage the water will do, so quick action could save you thousands.
3. Keep Tabs on Your Warranties
Many items in your home come with some length of manufacturer warranty. That includes your appliances, roofing, certain installation work, and more.
Create a system now to keep track of all your warranties. It could be a binder, a spreadsheet, or a filing cabinet.
Any time you need a repair, look up the warranty first for whatever it is that broke. Don’t assume anything is no longer under warranty until you know for sure.
4. Shop Around
What do you think the odds are that you find the least expensive option first every time? Not great.
If you’re doing a repair yourself, shop around for all your supplies, equipment rentals, and materials. Look for discounts and coupons for your local hardware stores as well. A few seconds of searching online can save you big money over the years.
The same goes for times when you hire a professional for repairs. Especially for larger jobs, research the technicians with the best ratings and get estimates from several of them.
That doesn’t mean you should always choose the cheapest option, though. If you get three estimates that are similar and one that costs half as much, it’s wise to question why.
5. Develop Relationships
You don’t have to shop around for providers every time you need a repair or inspection. In fact, it could save you money to pick a favorite in each specialty.
When you become a loyal customer for a technician, they’re more likely to be loyal to you too. It’s no secret that contractors have a reputation for overcharging, but they also don’t want to gouge a repeat customer and lose your business in the long-term.
This doesn’t mean you have to call that professional and only that professional every time you have a problem. You can shop around for big jobs. For systems that need consistent maintenance, though, establish a schedule with one contractor.
6. Buy Your Own Materials
Speaking of contractors overcharging homeowners, one of the most common ways they do this is by charging too much for materials.
When you need a repair or upgrade, it’s best to ask the technician what you need so you can buy the materials yourself. This lets you know you’re getting the best price and it reduces the amount of time you’re paying the contractor for.
The exception is when you need a specialized part you can’t get from the local hardware store. Chances are that your contractor will need to buy it from their own vendor.
7. Get Preventative
One of the best things you can do to save money on your home repairs is to keep up a consistent maintenance schedule. This includes routines like HVAC cleanings, roof inspections, pest control, and more.
Some of these tasks you can do on your own and others require a professional. Either way, skipping a $100 check-up could land you with a $1000 bill to repair a problem that wouldn’t have happened.
Make a schedule to follow each year with annual, seasonal, and monthly maintenance.
Saving on Your Home Repairs and Maintenance Expenses
As much of an accomplishment as it is to buy a home, the costs don’t stop with the mortgage. Sometimes it feels like your house is nickel-and-diming you with repairs and maintenance expenses, one after another.
The key is to build those costs into your budget and to keep up with prompt maintenance. Those steps along with the tips above can save you thousands in the long run and protect your investment in your home at the same time.
For more handy tips, check out the other articles right here on our money-saving blog.