Home ownership can be one of the most rewarding investments in life. It lets you put down roots, have total control over your living space and build equity. But it does have one big disadvantage over renting, in that you’re completely responsible for repairing and maintaining your home as well as the appliances and systems within.
Keeping up with home maintenance, updates and repairs can be expensive. While you certainly shouldn’t ignore the problems in your home – especially if you hope to help it retain its value – you can minimize the expenses involved in keeping your home and appliances in good shape. To maintain a home frugally, pinch pennies when planning updates, maintenance or renovations, and prepare for unexpected expenses with a home warranty.
Don’t Rush into Renovations
Perhaps the easiest way to save money on home renovations is to take your time with them. While it’s true that it’s easiest to make major renovations to a home before you move in, it’s also a good idea to make sure that the renovations you’re considering are really what you want. It’s all too easy to spend $15,000 on a new kitchen, only to discover that you don’t like the layout, the cupboards, the granite countertops or the weird lazy Susan.
Take your time researching a renovation you’re considering. Tour plenty of model homes, open houses, show rooms or friends’ homes to get a feel for what kitchen island, open floor plan, or new master bath will feel like.
Some home improvement bloggers even suggest living with a half-renovated room for a few months, so you can get a better feel for how planned renovations will work in daily life. You could, for example, gut your kitchen and rearrange the old cupboards into your new configuration for a few months to decide whether you really want them that way, or you could tear up carpeting in a room and paint the subfloor while you consider whether you want to put in new carpeting or prefer the convenience of hardwood. This way, you may find that some aspects of a renovation aren’t that important; at the very least, you won’t wind up stuck with an expensive renovation that you don’t like.
Ask for Advice
You may not have a social circle filled with DIY-home-improvement enthusiasts, but your friends, family members and acquaintances could surprise you with their knowledge, insight, experience and willingness to help. Friends and relatives may have fresh ideas for home decoration or renovation; they may know where to find discounted or gently-used fixtures and furniture; and they may be able to help you plan out a project and anticipate costly hurdles. Some may be able to lend you tools and equipment you’ll need or even provide a helping hand and expertise to repair projects.
Make Incremental Changes
Small changes can make a huge impact on your home’s appearance while leaving a much smaller dent in your wallet. Giving your home’s exterior a good power-washing can breathe new life into old siding for next to nothing – especially if you know someone who can lend you a power washer. Changing light fixtures and faucets, painting your front door, installing a new mailbox or refreshing interior paint can all make your home look new again.
Save on fixtures by shopping at thrift stores, like the Habitat for Humanity ReStore or your local architectural salvage store. Slash repainting costs by asking for mistinted paint at your local big-box hardware store. Don’t be afraid to ask for discounts on slightly damaged home improvement items. Rent expensive tools or borrow them from friends or neighbors.
DIY what you can around the house; Google is your friend, and the more maintenance you can do yourself, the more you’ll save. When you must hire contractors, talk to them about doing some of the work yourself to save costs. For example, hire house painters to paint the upper exterior walls but paint the first-floor exterior walls yourself.
Consider a Home Warranty
A home warranty provides a type of home appliance insurance for your large appliances and home systems, including the HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems. It’s separate from your home insurance but provides coverage to help you repair and replace critical home systems when they break down due to normal use. With a home warranty, you could save big on home repairs, including repair and replacement of home appliances.
Fitting home improvements, repairs and maintenance into your budget isn’t always easy, but it can be done. Be smart about maintaining and updating your home, and your reward could be a much bigger payday when you sell.
*This is a collaborative post. All views and opinions are mine.