Owning a home has many perks, but it also comes with a lot of responsibility, particularly when it comes to maintenance and repairs. In order to ensure you are living in a safe and healthy environment and to avoid crippling debt, it’s important to do your part in regular maintenance and to prepare the best you can for those inevitable major repairs.
Here are some tips to help you along the way.
Stick with Regular Maintenance
One of the best ways to keep your home in working order is to perform basic maintenance. This sounds easy enough, but it takes effort to remember all the tasks that need to be done to upkeep a home. Some examples of regular maintenance tasks are:
- Change out HVAC filters every one to three months
- Test smoke/CO detectors every three months and replace batteries every six months
- Deep clean home every six months
- Regularly flush toilets and run water in unused areas of the home
- Inspect roof for any leaks or damages once a year
It can’t be said enough how important it is to replace your air filters, and you want to make sure you use good filters. You can tell the quality of a filter is by its MERV rating. The MERV (Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value) rating is determined by how well the filter captures particles, such as dust, carpet fibers, and microscopic bacteria. A rating can be anywhere from 1 to 16. While the highest-rated filters are typically the best ones, more affordable filters with a rating of 6-8 can prove efficient for some homes (e.g., households without pets or allergies).
Hire the Right Contractors
When major or emergency repairs are necessary, it’s essential to find a qualified contractor within your budget. Whether it’s leaky or bursting pipes, roof damage, or foundation concerns, the contractor you choose can make the difference between a smooth experience and a nightmare. Ask people you know for recommendations, interview several candidates, and have each candidate provide a written bid so you can compare. Also, be sure to check each one’s licensing, and put together a detailed contract in writing once you choose a contractor.
And although you might not think so, the same rings true for pest control. If you discover that your home has become a haven for critters, you need to call in professionals to handle the job. This is especially true with termites, as they can do serious harm to the bones of your home, which could result in more money leaving your bank account. The average cost to hire a termite control specialist in Chicago, Illinois, for example, is $91 and $233, but it’s important to make room in your budget for something this important.
Create a Repair Fund
The best overall method for paying for home repairs is to create an emergency repair fund. This allows you to have the money ready for unexpected repairs without having to borrow funds or run up your credit card bills. Each home is different and you can’t predict every repair that will come your way. However, it’s generally a good idea to delegate 10 percent of your monthly mortgage payment to your repair fund. For instance, if your mortgage payment is $1,200 per month, put $120 in the repair fund each month. You may be surprised how quickly the fund builds.
Consider Family/Friends or a Personal Loan
Of course, having a good emergency fund built up is ideal, but it may not always cover everything you need. In those cases, it should still be your goal to avoid racking up credit. Consider asking a family member or close friend to front you the money for the necessary repairs. If that isn’t an option or preferred method, then look into getting a personal loan. You can apply online and these loans don’t require you to hold your home or automobile as collateral. Furthermore, you can sometimes find loans with less than 5 percent interest and no origination fees.
The responsibilities of home maintenance and unexpected repairs are less stressful when you have a plan. Keep your home safe and healthy by doing regular maintenance tasks, and be sure to hire a qualified and affordable contractor to perform your repairs. Create and build an emergency repair fund so that you’ll have money when you need it. Finally, if a need for a major repair surfaces before you’ve built your emergency fund, look into borrowing from a loved one or getting a personal loan.
Photo Credit: Pexels