Yearly Maintenance & Repair Budgets for Homeowners

As a homeowner, it is imperative that you anticipate various costs, that will occur due to the fact that you own your home.  You are not a tenant, who can depend on their landlord to maintain the home, and fix any issues as you occupy the space. We thought that it would be helpful for the homeowner, especially first time buyers, to list the type of expenses that can be anticipated as you live in your home.

There are a number of home characteristics that will influence the amount of money that you should anticipate for a homeowners budget.  

These characteristics include the following;

  1. Age of the home is probably the most influential characteristic for the anticipation of maintenance and repair costs.  If the home is new, then obviously you will have a minimum of a one year warranty. If the home is less than 10 years old, you can somewhat relax that the maintenance and repair will be minimum.
  2. Type of construction would be a characteristic that will influence maintenance and repair costs.  If the home is all wood as opposed to masonry, then the maintenance and repairs should be anticipated as higher than a masonry or steel framed home.
  3. Region of the country has a tremendous influence on the maintenance and repair costs.  Each section of the country will have both positive characteristics as well as negative.  The northeast will have the snow, ice and freezing elements of the weather, while the south will be associated with any heat and humidity related issues within the home.
  4. Occupancy of the home has a large influence on the condition and the longevity of home characteristics prior to maintenance and repair.  If the home is occupied by a single individual this occupancy will have less of a negative effect on the home than the occupancy of a large family with young children.
  5. Cost of the home will, in most instances, determine the type of equipment, appliances and finishes have been used.  In most cases, the more expensive, the more longevity. This is certainly not always the case, however, as a rule of thumb, you get what you pay for.  
  6. Style of the home will influence the amount of money that should be budgeted for maintenance and repair.  In this case, the simpler the less money will be spent. The more formal and fancy the home, the more the maintenance and repair budgets should be.
  7. Equipment sophistication will influence the budgets to be anticipated for maintenance and repair.  Like an automobile the more expensive and exclusive the equipment, the more it will cost to maintain and repair the equipment.
  8. Weather influences will influence the maintenance and repair budgets due to the deterioration of the exterior at the shore, or the influence of frost on your exterior patios.  Constant wet weather will promote the growth of mold and exterior deterioration, dry weather may dry out and crack the roof shingles, or the siding. The prevailing weather will influence the anticipated budgets.
  9. Municipalities and townships and their services will, in some fashion, influence the money that should be anticipated for maintenance and repair.  If the municipality is diligent with their water supply and the chemicals are carefully monitored and maintained the negative influence of public water on the fixtures, the plumbing will not be as great as the small unmanaged municipality that does not have the money, nor the desire to properly and professionally manage their town or city.

What are some of the specific items that should be budgeted for?

  1. Equipment breakdown and or replacement.  Items such as furnaces, air handlers, condensers, water pumps, hot water tanks, etc. are all functional pieces of equipment that could require substantial maintenance and or replacement as you live in the home.
  2. Appliance breakdown and or replacement.  All of the kitchen appliances have the potential to require maintenance and or replacement.  This would also include the washer and the dryer.
  3. Basic interior finish restoration or change-out.  If you are interested in either updating or sprucing up the home, the interior finishes should have a separate line item in the budget.
  4. Basic exterior finish restoration or change-out.  Similar to the interior, finishes deteriorate with age and will eventually require updating or replacement.
  5. Driveway repair and or replacement.  Your driveway is subjected to considerable wear and tear. This will require either replacement, maintenance or repair.
  6. Roofing.  All residential roofs are limited in their longevity.  In most cases, a 30 year life for most roofs can be expected.  After the 30 years, replacement is almost guaranteed and for 10 years prior to this, substantial roof maintenance costs should be budgeted.
  7. Siding and exterior sealants such as caulking.  As time advances and the weather has the opportunity to wear the exterior siding and water protection down, replacement and or maintenance will be required.
  8. Windows.  If the home is new or constructed within the last several years, the windows are probably state of the art and will remain in good shape for substantial number of years.  However, if the home is older or the windows were not good, efficient windows, their replacement should be considered and budgeted.
  9. Exterior landscaping issues such as tree removal, overgrown hedges, overgrown perimeter foliage, etc.  The exterior will require maintenance, the trees will die and need replacement of at least cutting down.  All of these items cost money and should be budgeted.
  10. Utility maintenance such as septic systems and artesian wells.  If the home is not supplied with municipal services such as sewer, city water and gas, etc., then the homeowner will need to budget for maintenance and possible replacement of septic systems, artesian wells or even storm water control structures, such as dry wells.
  11. Exterior finishes and site items such as stone walls, other types of retaining structures, stormwater control, etc.  The exterior must be maintained and must be safe for pedestrians and neighbors, this will require maintenance.     

It is important for all homeowners to properly budget for maintenance and repair items.

However, maintenance and repair is not always the final answer. There are times when the total replacement of the item is necessary.  This total replacement should be budgeted as an allowance, that is set aside as an accumulating sum. It is impossible to accurately predict, what and when the replacement will be necessary.  However, the inevitable will occur, and items will need to be replaced.

Due to the individuality of these issues, the specific and custom nature of each individuals home, as well as the ability of each homeowner to perform maintenance and repair chores on  their own, are all variables making the prediction of the actual values for each budget line item impossible to anticipate. However, all homeowners need to make their spreadsheet ,and understand that the best method of anticipating financial need is to budget something.  The amount of this budget, must be determined by each homeowner, as an individual who understands the money into the household and the money that has already been obligated for other bills.

The first step to success, in managing a sensible budget ,is to understand the various aspects of homeownership, that may cost you money.   Once you have performed this exercise, the assignment of actual funding must be determined on an individual basis.

Good luck, make the list, and start to accumulate money within each category.  Your future experiences as you live in your home, will determine how much per month should be set aside for maintenance and repair around the home.        

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