One of the most gratifying purchases you can make — purchases that speak to your hard work and financial independence — is a home. People spend months, even years, to save money so they can put a down payment on the home of their dreams. It’s a great feeling to know that you are able to afford a home and showcase your success.
However, what many consumers fail to consider is the affordability of maintaining a home when thinking through the cost to purchase. With each of these purchases comes the responsibility of regular maintenance to keep your home in proper condition.
The hard part is making the commitment to budget for home maintenance in the first place. It requires a thorough review of your finances and a monthly budget, and sometimes a sacrifice in disposable income to find room for the savings. For some of us, this sort of planning is daunting and it may seem more like an insurance policy than a budget. If you’ve always had good intention to save for home maintenance, but have never gotten around to it, there are smart ways to finance home maintenance projects with a personal loan.
Once you have decided to create a home maintenance fund, figuring out how much you need to save is the next important step.
All the major components of a home, internal or external, will need to be repaired or replaced at some point during the life of the home.
Depending on whether you purchase a new home or a used home, you may or may not incur some of those costs while you own the home. Still, it is important to determine which elements will potentially need repair and maintenance as soon as possible so you can start making a plan.
When assessing your home, personal finance and real estate expert Paula Pant suggests considering these factors:
- Age. At the 20- or 30-year mark, major components of a home start needing to be replaced.
- Weather conditions and climate. Homes in regions with more extreme weather patterns will see more wear and tear.
- Condition. Older homes’ maintenance needs are more impacted by a previous owner’s care.
- Location. Homes located in areas prone to environmental stresses. For instance, homes located at the bottom of a hill, may require more maintenance.
After considering all of these factors, there are a few different approaches you can take when deciding exactly how to budget and save for these upcoming home maintenance costs. How you decide to save isn’t as important as committing to the decision to save for home maintenance. Each of these approaches will allow you to build a solid maintenance fund. You just have to decide which one works best for you.
Industry insiders recommend basing your savings on one of three factors: the purchase price of the home, the square footage of the home or the life expectancy of each of the major components.
Rough Estimate: Save a Percentage of the Home’s Purchase Price
One approach is to set aside 1 to 4 percent of the purchase price of the home per year. For example, if you paid $200,000 for your home, then you would set aside between $2,000 and $8,000 per year for maintenance. The percentage you use should take into consideration your currently monthly budget and what you can reasonably afford to route into a home maintenance fund.
Rough Estimate: Save Money Per Square Footage of the Home
Another way to figure an amount is to save $1 per square foot per year for home maintenance. This approach is a logical one because the bigger the home, the more maintenance costs you will likely incur.
So, if you have a larger home, using square footage as a gauge for savings will give you an amount relative to the size of the home. It can also be a little less strenuous on your monthly budget than using the purchase price.
Both of these rough-estimate approaches will help you get started, but variables such as age, location, climate and condition of the home.
More Precise Estimate: Life Expectancy & Replacement Value
If you want a more exact estimate of anticipated home maintenance costs, some professionals suggest going through the home and making a list of all of the major components. These include, but are not limited to:
- Air conditioning
- Roofing and siding
- Water heater
- Window and doors
Once you have listed all of the components in your home, there are four easy steps for determining a budget:
- Determine the age for each component and the life expectancy. Scott Gibson at This Old House has a helpful guide for determining how long the building materials, systems and appliances in your home should last.
- Do a little online research to determine how much it would cost to repair or replace each of those items.
- Rank those components in increasing order of remaining life expectancy. The things that will need attention soonest should go to the top of the list.
- Budget for those expenses accordingly.
This approach requires more time and research, but will give you a more accurate idea of costs and help you create a savings plan that you will be able to refer to for years.
Maintenance to your home is inevitable, and it can be budget-busting if you don’t plan for it ahead of time, which is why it is important to start saving early for maintenance. But sometimes, even when you’ve planned and saved for anticipated maintenance, accidents or unplanned events can throw your budget off track. If you’re faced with a larger home expense like a broken washer or damage from a leaky pipe, you could consider using a personal loan. You’re likely to need your maintenance budget for actual maintenance, and a home improvement personal loan can give you the little boost you need to keep your finances on track.