Every home requires regular maintenance, and the cost of home repairs varies widely, but on average, most homeowners spend between $5,000 and $10,000 a year for home repairs, both routine and emergency. To put that in perspective, if the average homeowner spends between 2% and 4% of a home’s value on maintenance every year, that’s up to $8,000 annually for a $200,000 home. Still, there are many repairs that can really break the bank — and it’s not a matter of if they will hit, but when.
To figure out how to save for home maintenance costs, you need to be aware of these scary, expensive repairs and that many are inevitable. Emergency repair costs often far exceed homeowners’ warranty costs, so we’ve put together this article to help explain more about some of the most costly expenses you may encounter as a homeowner. While some of these numbers are indeed scary, there are steps you can take to be confident and ready.
Breaking the bank and raiding your savings when emergency structural repairs, pest infestations or unpredictable weather patterns damage your home isn’t anyone’s first choice to deal with the problem. In worst-case scenarios, homes are damaged and property values are lowered. As a result, homes can become more difficult to sell, and savings can’t always meet the financial demand for adequate repairs. Every home will experience the need for some unexpected repairs, and even the most cautious homeowner will face some surprises.
The news isn’t all bad, though. With a little preventive maintenance and early detection, you can get a jump on some of those worst-case scenarios and end up ahead. A home warranty can help ease the pain when these expenses occur while fitting conveniently into your other carefully budgeted items and keeping you better prepared.
Home warranty costs
The average cost of a home warranty, also known as a repair warranty, home maintenance insurance or an appliance service contract, can be far less than you’re likely to be stuck paying if you lack coverage when something big needs repair or replacement. This coverage eliminates your financial vulnerability and empowers your home with a reliable line of defense from an impressive team of professionals. Knowing is power and half the battle, so do your homework and consider what a home warranty can do for you. If you plan ahead, emergency home repair costs will feel much less like emergencies and a lot more like peace of mind.
First on our list of five potentially scary maintenance costs is roofing repair or replacement, which can range from a few thousand dollars for low-end repairs, all the way up to around $40,000 for high-end replacement. Your roof takes a hammering from the elements 24/7, and with extreme weather on the rise across the country, homeowners are keeping roofers in demand. While a new roof can be very expensive, it generally pays for itself by increasing the value of your home and making it more attractive to buyers.
Your roof is also an essential part of your home that protects everything inside, so if you notice any warning signs that your roof might be in need of repair or replacement, act fast. Warning signs include loose nails, leaks, stains, water in the attic, shingle damage, or missing flashing around chimneys, wall meetings or exhaust pipes. Preventive techniques include recaulking to fix cracks or leaks, cleaning gutters, trimming roofline trees, and keeping an eye on any spots that look worn or damaged.
Like roofing, siding is an essential exterior component that protects houses from the elements. While it’s easy to spend a few thousand here or there to fix or replace damaged or deteriorating sections, replacing a home’s siding entirely could run as much as $20,000. Siding also impacts a home’s style, visual attractiveness and the sought-after curb appeal that sellers hope to achieve before listing a home. Siding is built to withstand the elements, but the years can take their toll, and siding will need to be cleaned and painted regularly. Aluminum siding can dent and bend, and wooden siding is susceptible to warping, splitting, rot and termites. Like a new roof, a new set of siding increases the value of your home and is one of the first expenses to consider when preparing for a sale.
Electrical systems can cost anywhere from a few thousand dollars to around $15,000 for entirely new wiring in a larger, older home. You need to be aware that your electrical system could be overtaxed by the increased demand of today’s modern gadgets and devices typically plugged in just about every room, especially if you live in an older home. Overtaxing an antiquated electrical system can cause potentially catastrophic fires, personal injuries and even death, so it’s not something to overlook or set aside. Warning signs include unexpected shocks from gadgets and appliances, regularly tripping circuit breakers, flickering lights or even sparks.
Make sure you have GFCI (ground fault circuit interrupter) outlets in all your bathrooms and kitchens, at a minimum. A GFCI outlet is safer because it prevents shocks by interrupting current flow when there is a dangerous load, bad connection or intrusion of moisture. Have a professional evaluate your home’s electrical system with a full inspection, particularly if your home is older and you suspect there could be problems. Consider getting multiple estimates for what it will cost to modernize your electrical system with a complete overhaul.
Your home sits on a foundation, so when you start to have problems at this level, the entire home can be affected — and things can get expensive. All homes will settle to a certain degree over time, but soil can expand and contract with rainy and dry seasons, and this can wreak havoc with your foundation, inviting cracks, leaks, twists, gaps and other structural problems that can lead to malfunctioning doors and windows or sloping floors. Minor repairs to small cracks run around $500, while major fixes that could involve hydraulic pliers to pull foundation sections back together can run as high as $11,000. If you suspect you have a problem, it’s best to act quickly before it becomes worse (and more expensive). A structural engineer is the best person to evaluate and diagnose any issues with your foundation. Meanwhile, you can mix cement yourself to fill cracks if you feel comfortable doing so, but make sure you have proper drainage around your home, and soak the soil if it gets too dry.
If you own a large home with an old HVAC system and don’t have an extra $10,000 for a high-end replacement, that’s OK, but you might want to start saving now. While the average HVAC system should last around 15 years or so, units that aren’t maintained well and serviced regularly tend not to last as long. Even if your system seems to be running well, there’s a good argument for having it checked out and serviced annually by a professional. The tricky thing about HVAC units is if you neglect regular service, they have a tendency to fail when you need them the most — so don’t delay that service call, and don’t forget to change your air filters around the home, which can ease the wear and tear on your HVAC system. Indicators of trouble brewing include unpredictable temperatures, irregular power on/off intervals, leaking and unusual noises. Whether you hire a professional for regular HVAC evaluation or do maintenance yourself, prevention is the key to long-lasting and predictable service. The least you can do is change your filters regularly and keep a close eye and ear on your system.
We’ve covered five of what are often considered the most expensive home repairs, but we’ve barely scratched the surface of the category. It’s easy to spend thousands of dollars on other repairs that could be related to the five major expenses we mentioned or on all sorts of other isolated and unrelated issues. Reasons for additional spending could include anything from water damage and mold removal to plumbing, septic-tank maintenance and deck repairs. You could also find yourself investing in asbestos removal, driveway repairs and termite damage. You may need to repair or replace a water heater or other major appliance in your home. The bottom line is that home ownership is an expensive commitment that never ends, but it doesn’t have to be a full-time job.
A good home warranty can cover all these issues and more so you can relax and get on with your life knowing that an expert team of experienced professionals who understand what customer service is all about are there when you need them, for whatever reason. Along with that peace of mind, you’ll also be protected from the financial scrambling that occurs when a major, unexpected expense comes along and ruins your day. Adding complete home warranty coverage with affordable monthly payments to your regular budget ahead of time so there are no big financial surprises in your future is priceless.
How much to save
It’s tough to know how much to save for all these unexpected expenses that might happen when you own a home. Some you can plan for and prevent with a careful eye and ear to the ground. Others are completely out of your hands. Prices range all over the map for repairs and maintenance companies, and sometimes it feels like everything hits at once. When thinking about a home warranty and what it covers, a good place to start is with your home insurance company. You can learn the differences between what your homeowner’s policy covers and what is typically covered by an additional home warranty. Together, these two plans should keep you well covered for most surprises. Both should be built into your monthly budgeted expenses, which will keep you prepared for nearly anything without having to break the bank or take out loans in extreme scenarios.
If you’ve been considering a home warranty or are just curious about the category, we hope this article has given you a useful perspective to help decide on your next steps. If you’d like to read more about home appliance warranty plans in general, including more details on how a home warranty works, we’ve got plenty of other helpful posts for your consideration. If you’re wondering whether a home warranty is worth it as you assess the risks involved when thinking about buying an older home, we’ve got even more helpful articles to share.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.