As a general rule of thumb, home maintenance costs, on average, somewhere between one to four percent of your home’s value per year. That means if your home is worth $300,000, you can expect to spend somewhere between $3,000 to $12,000 per year. And if you’re like most homeowners, that’s a lot of money for your family.
The Secrets Behind Lower Maintenance Costs
Everyone always talks about the benefits of homeownership and how much money you can save compared to renting, but they rarely factor in the cost of maintenance. There are minor ongoing expenses like landscaping and simple repairs that add up over time. And then there are major expenses like replacing a roof or buying a new AC unit and furnace. These items can sometimes cost upwards of $10,000.
While we still think it makes sense for most families to buy a home versus renting, you have to be strategic and plan ahead so that maintenance costs and repair expenses don’t bleed your bank account dry. Here are a few suggestions:
- Be Smart With Landscaping
Some homeowners have an affinity for lawn care and yard work. But for most of us, it’s a chore that we’d rather not waste our weekends doing. Not only is it time-consuming, but it can be expensive to buy all of the right equipment and supplies. Thankfully, there are several things you can do to make your lawn less demanding. This includes mixing clover into your lawn.
“Clover seeds used to be included in the typical lawn seed mix, being appreciated as a ground cover with numerous attractive qualities,” landscaping expert David Beaulieu suggests. “Clover lawns have many advantages over traditional grass lawns, including their drought tolerance. Clover also is insect-resistant, competes well with weeds, and doesn’t have to be mowed often.”
Other suggestions include hardscaping over softscaping, using an automatic irrigation system, planting drought-tolerant perennials, and even using artificial grass in certain areas.
- Choose Durable Exterior Materials
Be particular about the materials you use on the exterior of your home. For example, vinyl siding might be cheap, but it’s also more prone to damage in storms and inclement weather. Fiber-cement siding is a much stronger option that requires less upkeep. With gutters, opting for some sort of guarded design will prevent you from having to clean your gutters on a regular basis.
- Clean on a Weekly Basis
Like yard work, cleaning isn’t one of those things that most people love. But do you want to know a little secret? If you make a habit of cleaning for a few minutes each day, it becomes easy. All it takes is 15-20 minutes per day and your house will never get out of control.
To make cleaning easy, you need to have the right supplies on hand. This includes a canister vacuum, which is a more lightweight and versatile vacuum than the standard upright vacuum. It works on everything from hardwood floors to heavy carpeting.) We also recommend investing in some microfiber cloths for cleaning (which are more effective and reusable than paper towels).
- Get a Home Warranty
Home warranties are a somewhat controversial topic; however, they ultimately make sense for anyone wanting to lower long-term maintenance costs. While there are several reputable companies in the industry, most have similar price points for their coverage plans.
“For a basic plan, the annual average cost of a home warranty ranges $350 – $600, which breaks down to an average monthly payment of $25 – $50. Expect to pay a service call fee of around $60 – $100 each time a service provider comes to your home,” Rocket Mortgage explains. “The benefit of a home warranty plan is that, instead of paying all repair costs out of pocket, you can enjoy the financial stability of a deductible toward service fees.”
At an average cost of just $350 to $600 per year (plus one-time service fees), all it takes is one big issue to break even. And if you have a couple of different problems per year (which is entirely likely with an older home), you’ll definitely save money.
The key is to keep the plan in place for several years. You might not need it for two or three years, but when you do, it can save you a lot of money.
Putting it All Together
If you plan ahead, you can cut both your short-term and long-term home maintenance costs. And rather than spending the three or four percent of your home’s value on annual maintenance, you can spend one percent or less in most years. Good luck!