Part of being a homeowner means dealing with ongoing maintenance and repairs. Preparation and planning can help you navigate those bumps in the road as they come along. Here is how to ensure you’re ready when life throws you and your house some curve-balls.
Ounce of Prevention
You’ve probably heard it said that an ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure, and the cliche holds true when it comes to home repairs and maintenance. For example, keeping your gutters clean can help you avoid roof damage and costly repairs from wintertime ice jams. Along the same lines, you can help your HVAC system remain efficient and extend its life through simple routine maintenance. As HowStuffWorks explains, a dirty filter can damage the system, so it’s crucial to change the air filters regularly. You can stay on track by enrolling in an air filter subscription service in which you specify the exact filter you want and how often you want to receive it. Once you note the rating, dimensions, and quantity, they are shipped straight to your door, easily and automatically reminding you when it’s time to install a new filter.
Rainy Day Fund
Even with the best maintenance, things wear out. On top of that, accidents happen, or Mother Nature might send storms your way. Expenses can add up quickly, and as Generation X Finance points out, an emergency fund can make the difference between sailing comfortably through the storm or ending up stranded financially. Some experts recommend budgeting a minimum of 1 percent of your home’s value for home maintenance and repairs.
Know Your Benefits
In the event that something should happen to your home, it’s important to be familiar with your insurance coverage, and be prepared to pay for issues as required. For instance, policies often don’t help when you have damage due to a power outage, or as a result of flooding. Sewage backing up into your home, mold, or damage due to homeowner neglect are not typically covered, either. And if you own what would fall under the designation of luxury items, you should add riders for coverage to keep those belongings properly insured.
What If I’m Not Prepared?
If trouble strikes and you are financially unprepared for the situation, there are ways to fund home repairs without existing savings, although they are generally less appealing than covering expenses out-of-pocket. For instance, you can put repairs on a credit card, take out a loan, or shift around payments for other things. If you have equity in your home, you could borrow against it, or you might be able to get a loan from relatives. Depending on your situation, some government programs help pay for home repairs as well.
Regardless of how you will pay for repairs, you need to find qualified help to fix your property. It’s important to avoid scams, and the field of contractors seems to have more than a fair share. Steer clear of anyone demanding payment up front or those unwilling to put an estimate in writing. To find a properly qualified contractor, Lifehacker suggests seeking someone who carries certifications for the work you need to be done and who has proof of insurance. Get quotes in writing, and check references. Most professional contractors will let you pay as you go, which is especially helpful if you’re in the midst of trying to come up with cash for the repairs.
Your home is one of the biggest investments you will ever make in your life, so take steps to protect it. Do some basic maintenance and set aside money for a rainy day. When trouble comes your way, you’ll be ready to weather the storms.