I often advise new homeowners to put aside at least some money each year for annual maintenance. About 1 percent of the home’s value seems to be the norm, and for a $300,000 house, that’s $3,000 a year, or $250 a month.
That’s just for the basics, though. We all know that unexpected things crop up that can go beyond your annual savings and it’s ideal to try to budget more for big-ticket items, such as a new roof or furnace.
Since you’ll no longer have a landlord to call up and ask for repairs when things go bad, here are some unexpected home maintenance costs to think about saving for beyond the basics:
Critters. It may be storage space to you, but a mother chipmunk, squirrel or raccoon may think your attic is a great place to have babies. The insulation is warm, and after chewing a few holes in your roof or finding a small hole to wriggle through, they’ll make a nest in the attic and make themselves at home. From there they can chew through wiring, leave droppings behind, and raise a family to run around and chew into your walls. If they don’t leave on their own, it could cost you money to remove them.
Digging dogs. Having a backyard for a dog to run in is a fun benefit of owning a home, but it can lead to some expensive repairs if your dog doesn’t have enough entertainment. Digging a hole under a fence can be a dog’s way of saying it wants some attention and play time. You might get away with merely filling up the holes… or you might have to build a new fence, at a cost of hundreds of dollars, if the damage is broad enough and poorly placed.
Washer overload. As Bobby Brady discovered when he overfilled a washing machine with soap, using too much detergent in the popular high-efficiency (HE) washing machines can lead to trouble. But instead of getting a roomful of suds, putting too much soap or the wrong kind of detergent into an HE machine can cause it to overwork and break. Be sure to use the right kind of HE detergent called for with your washer, or be prepared to buy a new washer if it breaks.
Tree roots. An old, large tree in front (or back) of your home looks great and provides excellent shade, but its roots can destroy the drain line leading out of your house and may cause a few thousand dollars’ worth of repair bills. Digging up the front lawn with a backhoe isn’t something you consider when you see a beautiful tree – but a sewer line inspection from the street to the home doesn’t seem like a bad investment, does it?
Leaking windows. Unless it’s raining hard on the day of your home inspection, it’s unlikely you’ll see leaky windows. You might spot some water damage around the frame, but it can take awhile for that to show up. Caulking a window is easy enough, but replacing a window, and repairing any damage the leak caused, can get expensive.
Of course, not everything can be prevented, so another key to home maintenance is having at least a box of proper tools. I don’t expect people to have a whole shed full of tools, but just having the basics like clippers, pliers, a hammer and more will do in a pinch.
What unexpected home maintenance costs have you encountered? Share your tale below.