Every homeowner will face a dreaded emergency repair in their lifetime, but regular maintenance can keep these events to a minimum. If you’ve ever thought of saving a few bucks by neglecting regular maintenance, you could be setting yourself up for costly breakdowns later. Plus, routine maintenance keeps your home in its best shape, making it more livable and valuable. But you don’t have to spend a fortune. Follow these tips to reduce home maintenance costs, while sustaining proper upkeep for your home.
1. Know How Much You Need to Save
When you’re calculating your mortgage, insurance, and other costs of home ownership, factor in maintenance. Although annual home maintenance costs are impacted by factors like inflation, you can come up with a reasonable estimate of how much you need to save to maintain your home each year.
Use a standard formula like the 1% rule or the square foot rule, and keep that amount in savings. Based on average home maintenance costs, you can also calculate 10% of your home’s value and keep that in savings for routine maintenance.
2. Figure Out What You Can DIY
If you’re like many homeowners, you’re probably confident that a toolbox and a couple of internet tutorial videos are enough to turn you into a master carpenter. It’s true you can save money on home maintenance by doing it yourself. But doing it wrong can get costly when you have to have a professional come out and fix the original problem as well as the damage you did by not making the correct fix.
Make a list of repairs or routine maintenance you could easily do yourself versus what you should leave to the professionals. Simple tasks like refinishing your hardwood floors or replacing toilets are easy to accomplish on your own. When you start messing with major systems like plumbing, HVAC, and electrical, it’s best to call in an expert.
3. Save Energy
Whether you’re living in a centuries old home in a historic part of town or you’re in a new build, your home could always be more energy-efficient. Conduct an energy audit and see how you can save money by upgrading appliances, adding insulation, or other easy fixes to make your home more energy-efficient.
Calculate how much you’re saving on your energy bills and set the money aside for large repairs that may come up later.
4. Make Repairs Early
One of the easiest ways to reduce home maintenance costs is to deal with important repairs as soon as they arise. Maybe one of your interior doors is broken or off its hinges. This is unsightly, but you can let it go for a little while. On the other hand, if you get shingle damage after a big hail storm, take care of it right away to prevent it from turning into a roof leak or an entire roof replacement.
5. Hire High-Quality Contractors
When you do have to bring in the pros, resist the urge to hire on price alone. Look for licensed professionals with quality credentials and insurance coverage. If you can, talk to past clients to see how their repairs are holding up and if they would recommend that contractor again.
Doing some research before you hire a contractor will keep you from potentially hiring someone who will leave a job unfinished or having to pay for a repair twice.
6. Schedule Your Preventive Maintenance
There are tasks you can take care of every year to reduce your chances of costly emergencies later. Replace the batteries in your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year to make sure they’re properly functioning.
Schedule a regular appointment with a plumbing or drain cleaning company to take care of tree roots in your sewer line before they get out of hand and damage the system. Regularly clean out ventilation systems, including your HVAC and dryer vents, to keep them functional. Clean your rain gutters every year, and check your roof for cracks, leaks, and other damage so you can promptly fix any issues.
7. Inspect Your Home For Fire Hazards
You know you should be replacing batteries in your smoke detectors twice a year, but there are other ways to reduce your chances of having a fire. Test your smoke detectors to make sure they still work. If they’re more than ten years old, replace them.
Next, check all your cords to make sure none are frayed. Make sure cords are clear from walkways and other hazardous areas. Look at your light bulbs to see if they are the right wattage for lamps and other light fixtures.
Clean your chimney regularly to prevent buildup. Next, go outside and look for shrubs, vines, dry plants, and other fire hazards within 15 feet of your house. Keep your lawn cut and prune your trees to lower fire danger in your yard.
8. Do Off-Season Repairs
Instead of waiting for temps to hit 100° before you fix your air conditioner, have someone come inspect it and fix it late in the winter or in early spring. On the flip side, bring someone out to test your heating system during the later summer or early fall before it gets super cold outside.
Many companies charge lower rates in the off season. Even if they have fixed pricing, you don’t have to worry about paying emergency rates because someone has to fix your heating system at midnight on the coldest night of the year.
9. Bundle and Save
Use a service like HomeKeep to bundle your routine maintenance tasks and save. For those who live in the Madison, WI area, our Essentials Bundle includes two home checkups per year with 10 services at one low price. We’ll handle the inspection and tuning for a low price, letting you save money on home maintenance without putting it off.
Don’t Wait to Tackle Your Home Repairs
Home maintenance doesn’t have to break your budget. Include routine maintenance and annual repair costs in your budget when you buy your home, and keep money in the bank for those fixes that pop up from time to time. Make it easier to stay on top of your home maintenance with the Essentials Bundle or — for those outside the Madison area — get the HomeKeep app: an all-in-one home maintenance and management tool that creates regular, easy-to-follow plans tutorials, and maintenance reminders for homeowners.