Due to the COVID-19 pandemic, we have been “sheltering in place” for weeks now. Most of us are spending more time in our homes than we ever expected we would. This is an opportune time to look around and create a “to do list” of home projects. Near the top of the list, right after cleaning and organizing pantries and closets, is likely home maintenance.
The most important variable when considering home maintenance is, of course, the age of your home. If it is new or close to it, you’re in luck. There shouldn’t be any major repair/replacement expenses for a while and, if there are, many should be covered by a builder’s or manufacturer’s warranty.
After five years, however, some appliances may give up the ghost, by ten years more will be failing, and some painting or landscaping upgrades will be needed. Over the next decade, expect major repairs or even replacement of the HVAC system, more appliance failures, and perhaps an upgrade to the electrical system to accommodate the new technology that is now essential. The garage door(s) could be getting cranky, and energy upgrades such as new windows or more efficient appliances may be needed.
Today’s roofs, depending on the quality of the materials, generally last 20 to 30 years, although metal, slate, and architectural shingles can endure much longer.
How to Budget
To get started, make a list of all the major components of your home that may need replacing and find the replacement cost of each item. Then try to come up with an approximate age.
If the house was built 8 years ago, chances are the furnace was as well. A thirty-year-old home is probably on its second roof. Back then roofs lasted 20 to 25 years which makes yours five to ten years old.
Even if you don’t know the age of anything, you can Google the life expectancy of most systems and appliances on-line. A refrigerator, for example, lasts an average of 13 to 14 years. Some, of course, die the day after the warranty expires.
Make the most educated guess you can about the remaining life of each component and rank order them by “expiration date.” This should give you a fairly good idea of what you can expect to spend over the next five years, ten years, and into the future. From this information it should be fairly easy to determine how much should be set aside each month as a reserve for major replacements.
Do it Yourself?
If you have the time and the expertise you can cut your budget significantly. Don’t despair if the skill part is a little shaky, the internet has a wealth of guides and (better yet) videos designed to teach a novice to do almost anything. Some are specific to a single product—why is the washing machine making that noise? With a model number and a properly framed search question you can learn why and what to do about it in minutes.
On the other hand, time is money and many tasks require tools or equipment missing from the average homeowner’s toolbox. If you have the luxury of both extra time and a flexible bank balance, weigh the value of DIY versus professional help.
Content By: Steve Crisci–MDC Financial Group
On a Personal Note…
During this extended stay-at-home time, I decided to practice what I preach and catch up on my home maintenance list. It is hard to believe 7 years have passed since my major renovation so it is time to check in on how the systems of the house are doing. Houses are like people, they need periodic checkups to maintain their health and longevity! So often my clients only do this when it is time to sell and say they wished they had done it sooner and avoided costly repairs. And for Buyers that received repair credits from Sellers, they so often forget to do the work the credit was for or push it to the bottom of the to-do list.
So far, I did a termite inspection (all clear, thankfully), a main line scope (just a few minor points of weed intrusion to snake), will have the foundation checked this week (have some interior cracks and settlement I want looked at before I do touch up painting in the house) and then comes chimney cleaning along with some fresh caulk and grout in kitchen and baths. Earlier this year I already had the heat/ac checked and tankless water heater flushed.
If you have questions about how to maintain your home, what improvement projects have the best return on investment or need vendor referrals, just send me an email or call 619-888-2117.