You delight in your home. It’s your family’s sanctuary, and it’s your joy. You invite people over and entertain, your children and grandchildren play there, and it’s a place that houses your family memories. Owning a home comes with a commitment of time and money. Every year, people put thousands of dollars into cleaning, maintaining, and renovating their homes. How can you maintain your home while keeping costs down, especially if you’re on a tight budget?
What Does a Home Actually Cost?
When you bought a home, much of the cost was in the home purchase itself, or so you thought. However, over time, your home will cost you a lot of money to maintain. If you don’t maintain it, you’ll have a rapidly-depreciating asset, because your cupboard doors will hang by the hinges, your window cracks will grow larger, and that leak in your basement will lead to mold. On the flip side, when a home is properly maintained and even renovated over time, it can grow in value as you grow with your home. That kitchen renovation or new lawn can solidify the value of the fixer-upper you bought and help its true beauty shine through.
What does a home actually cost to maintain every year? That depends on the age of your home and on the upkeep done by previous owners. According to The Balance, “One popular rule of thumb says that one percent of the purchase price of your home should be set aside each year for ongoing maintenance. For example, if your home cost $300,000, you should budget $3000 per year for maintenance.” This doesn’t mean that you must spend $3000 every year. It means that in the long term, your home will cost that amount. Another rule suggests that you spend $1 per square foot of your house. If you live in an area where housing prices are high, this could be more accurate than the first number as an estimate of potential home maintenance costs.
You will also need to spend money to clean your home. Purchasing cleaning supplies is a cost that works into your weekly and monthly bills. According to The Nest, your cleaning supply costs will also vary: “Homeowners spent an average of around $800 a year on cleaning supplies,” but renters spent significantly less, and the amount spent varied from region to region.
What Happens When You’re on a Budget?
If the numbers above make you feel some dismay, you’re certainly not alone. It can be expensive to maintain a home over time, yet it can be even more expensive to avoid those essential maintenance tasks. How can you ensure that your home is well-maintained on a budget? Following these frugal tips can help.
Enjoy the Home You Have
Did you move into a home that’s a bit of a project? If your home is falling down around you, that must be addressed. However, if you don’t really like the vintage 1970s wall coverings in the basement, that’s more of a matter of taste. If you want to save on renovations, get a consultation from a home decorating professional. Before you take out that wall or remove that vintage wall paneling, it’s worth a look with someone else’s eyes. An interior designer can help you see the potential that exists in your current home decor, and may suggest additional minor renovations. Designers can also show you possibilities for more and less expensive options if you’re still considering a renovation.
Repair Rather Than Replace
When you’re looking at a home renovation and it seems terribly expensive, see if you are able to repair the item instead. For instance, if you have decided that your gutters need to be replaced, are they just getting clogged a lot and frustrating you? You could decide to add gutter guards and remove the need to clean your gutters without having to replace the entire gutter system.
It pays to plan ahead. You need to engage in ongoing home maintenance, repairs, and renovations, and when you do, make notes on what you’d like to change. For example, you could notice:
- Your water heater is getting old
- The basement needs new paint
- The tap in the kitchen keeps dripping
Should you address all of these at once? How should you proceed? Make a plan that gives you a general timeline of when you’d like to address different repair and maintenance issues in your home. Look for sales on supplies and deals from contractors. Deals and sales vary by season, and if you’re looking for a water heater soon, you could find one on sale a few months later. Do your research while you wait so that you’re ready to choose and know that an item is a particularly good deal when the sale arrives.
Secure Deals With Contractors
As you plan ahead, look for seasonal deals with contractors. At the very beginning and end of the season or in the off-season, contractors have a lot more time to work on your projects. For example, if you’re considering doing work on your garden or fences, the end of the summer is still great weather, but it’s a time when many families are away. Those who are home are looking toward the fall and thinking about going back to work and school. August can be a surprisingly good time to pursue exterior home renovation projects, and contractors could offer a discount if the workflow is slow.
Know How to Spruce Up Your Home Inexpensively
If your home needs a pick-me-up, know how to do this on a budget. You can take many different actions to make your home more beautiful at a moderate expense. For instance, you can:
- Paint a room. This can transform its look and feel at a low cost.
- Repair holes in the walls.
- Change the furniture. Move it around, add secondhand finds, or pair it with your new paint.
- Refinish the floor. If it’s making your room look lackluster, add some more shine.
- Add grass or garden beds.
- Repaint your deck.
- Add weatherstripping before the winter comes.
- Add caulking, whether it’s around the bathtub or the molding.
Many tiny changes can make a big difference in the look and feel of your home.
While you may have paid a lot of money for antiques or vintage items for your home, you can also find repurposed materials for your home that are much less expensive than new materials. For instance, if you’re looking for a door, you could buy new, or you could look in your area for a store that sells reused home products. You can find many different kinds of home supplies at these stores, and some of them are remarkably high quality. Many families move into a home and decide that the fixtures aren’t what they want, so they remove them, even if those fixtures are relatively new.
This is another time when planning ahead really helps. If you know that your goal is to replace your bathroom vanity in the next year, you can shop the sales and also shop around sites like Craigslist and stores that sell reused items. You could find the perfect sink a few months earlier than planned and save it for a while.
When you purchase reused home building materials, especially when you buy them from another individual online, make sure that you know what you’re getting. Watch for recalls and for items that could be from a home with asbestos or lead paint. You’ll need to do your research to understand the hazards that could come from a specific home item. You also want to find reused items that are as energy-efficient as possible, so it pays to do your research before buying that new window.
Make Your Home More Energy-Efficient
Energy-efficiency will pay off by itself since you pay for the energy that you use. However, there is another way to make these projects less expensive. Many manufacturers and local and state programs offer you incentives to make your home more energy-efficient. For instance, you could bring in your water-hogging toilet and get a $100 discount on a more efficient toilet. While the discount won’t entirely pay for the new item, you might be surprised at the incentives that are out there, and if you need to update your fixtures anyway, it’s worth a try to see if you can get a discount on more efficient appliances.
Take Action to Prevent Damage
Sometimes you need to make a larger investment of money in your home. It’s particularly important to do this when your home could be in danger of serious damage.
- For example, if you notice that your gutters are draining down the sides of your house and pooling water next to the home foundation, this could put your house at risk of a cracked foundation.
- If you see that your water heater is quite old and could burst in the basement, it’s worthwhile to invest in a new one right away.
Over time, try to save a small emergency fund that will allow you to work on these projects more quickly so that you don’t need to invest a lot of time in emergency repairs.
Know When To Do It Yourself
Everyone has a home renovation horror story, either from personal experience or from a friend. It could be about a project that took far longer than planned to complete or a project that actually damaged the house.
If you’re planning to do a project yourself, know when this is a good idea. Do you have the skills? Have you done the necessary research? Do you have friends and relatives who could help you with this?
Know where you can experiment. For instance, if you’re adding a new garden bed and want to try this on your own, this is a low-risk activity. At worst, you will end up with a garden bed that doesn’t look as beautiful as you’d hoped.
However, if there’s risk involved in the renovation, seek professional assistance in the planning stages. For example, if you’re planning to remove a series of walls in your home and you’re not sure if they’re load-bearing walls, you must get assistance to decide what you can and can’t remove.
If you’ve decided to pursue a renovation with a contractor, make sure that the low budget is not disguising low quality work. According to the US News, you should also “Avoid working with contractors who offer a substantially low price for services because you may end up having to hire another contractor to fix their work.” For example, if you hire a handyman to install gutters or a gutter guard and he installs them at the wrong angle because he just doesn’t have a lot of experience, then you could experience much more expensive problems in your home, such as a leak in the basement.
Invest in the Future of Your Home
Sometimes, you know that you just need to invest the money to see the transformation that you want to see in your home. It can be worthwhile to invest in your home, but you may need to save money over time to do so. It can be worth it to spend a more substantial amount of money on your home when you are:
- Reducing the possibility of damage and improving the safety and security of your home.
- Improving the efficiency of your home through items like windows or attic insulation. You won’t see the payback immediately, but you will see it over the decades that you live in the home.
- Renovating your exterior living space and your garden, which adds visual appeal, makes it lower-maintenance and can reduce problems such as pooling water.
- Conducting a large-scale renovation that allows you to stay in the home rather than move. Whether you’re increasing the size of your family or managing aging in place, renovating your home can sometimes be a less expensive option than moving.
Are you considering adding new roofing, gutters or gutter guards to your home? Talk with Harry Helmet. We have many decades of experience in the home renovation field. We’ll work with you to make an investment in the long-term maintenance of your home and make your lives easier as well. Contact us and schedule an appointment today.