By JoAnn Sabas
After the purchase of your new home, you’ll likely experience an adjustment period during which you learn how to alter your budget and lifestyle to accommodate the new expenses in your life, such as mortgage payments and property taxes. One thing you’re probably not counting on, however, is a major household repair.
But even if you purchased a move-in ready house that doesn’t need any immediate repairs, the truth is that a major unexpected expense could surprise you at any time. For instance, a brand new furnace can malfunction just after the warrantee expires. A storm can do structural damage that your insurance company will only partially cover. In truth, there are many expenses waiting for you when you purchase a new home. If you prepare, you’ll be ready when they happen.
Here are three ways your family can be ready for a major household repair when it happens to you.
- Add repairs into your monthly budget proactively. There are two popular schools of thought for budgeting for home repairs. Some say that you should sock away 1 percent of the cost of your home each year to prepare for maintenance (if your home cost $200,000, put aside $2,000 each year). Others say you should save $1 per square foot each year (so if your home is 1,500 square feet, you should save $1,500). You may not always use the full amount, but that just means you’ll be better prepared the following year.
- Get at least three quotes on any work you contract. ’re handy around the house, doing your own repairs can come back to haunt you down the road. If you plan to resell your home soon, there’s a good chance you’ll need to verify the work was done to code by a licensed professional. When you do reach out to have work done, be sure to get at least three quotes. This will help you get a truer sense of how much your repairs actually cost, and give you leverage to negotiate the cost of the job.
- Purchase your own parts. If you let a contractor do the shopping for you, you might end up with a more expensive furnace than your house really needs. When possible, purchase your own parts so your expenses end up going primarily to labor. You can often find better deals for used goods online, wholesale supply stores, or even outlets, where a brand new, fully functioning appliance may be marked down drastically simply because it was returned.
While there are many benefits to owning your own home, the responsibility of maintenance is certainly not one of them. But as long as you prepare for the inevitable, and respond responsibly when something goes wrong, you won’t put yourself, or your family, at risk of having to sacrifice your quality of life.