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Budgeting for home maintenance

Home improvements can be some of the most exciting projects, while home repairs on the other hand can be some of the most stressful – the difference being home “improvements” are typically planned for and dreamed about, while home “repairs” usually means something has gone wrong.

Thinking along these lines got me wondering about how expensive home projects are running these days, so I did a little research.

Turns out, homeowners spend about $1,105 per year on maintenance, with emergency repairs averaging around $1,206, according to personal finance website www.thebalance.com.

Some of the most significant expenses fall under the following five categories, according to 380 Companies Disaster Services:

  • Full home rewiring: $4,000-plus
  • New HVAC units: $2,500, on the low end
  • Roof replacement: $5,000-plus
  • Foundation repairs: $10,000-$30,000
  • Plumbing: $2,000 for serious issues

All of that being said, how do we financially plan for these sorts of things? While we can’t predict when disaster might strike, we can be proactive in our household budgeting to allow for home maintenance.

Some key considerations include the age of your home, weather conditions and square footage.

The age of the home is important because depending on when it was built, eventually some things will need to be replaced or repaired. These items could include old wiring and plumbing, lack of insulation and problems with heating or antiquated chimneys and fireplaces.

Weather conditions matter if your home is exposed to extreme cold, high winds and heavy rains. While extreme cold and snow don’t typically affect us here in north Alabama, the heavy rains, wind and tornadoes are definite considerations.

Square footage matters in that budgeting for repairs, the more space you have, the more space you will likely have in need of repairs at some point.

A general rule of thumb is to save 1 percent of the purchase price or value of your home. So, if you have $150,000 home, you should set aside around $1,500 annually – hopefully less if your home is newer, and you should likely plan for more if you have an older home or a home that has been battered by weather.

The most important financial rule in home repair and improvements is to set aside more than you anticipate spending. If you come out spending less, great! Cushioning this part of your budget can be crucial when the unexpected happens.