As a new homeowner, you may be only partially aware of the costs involved with owning property. For example, you’re probably well aware of the fact that you’ll have to pay for your mortgage, utilities, property tax, and homeowner’s insurance. Luckily, you’ll get billed for all of these so you won’t have to worry about remembering them on your own. But what about the costs of home maintenance? How do you calculate them, plan for future expenses, and save money when it comes to properly maintaining your home? With a simple checklist, you can avoid some of the most common expenses associated with owning a home. Here are a few preventive home maintenance basics to help keep your house in shipshape and save you some money along the way.
You can start simply enough with your home inspection. You should receive a report before you move in detailing any areas of the home that have issues to address. In some cases, previous owners will take care of these problems in order to sell the house, but depending on your agreement you may end up with some sort of monetary allowance if you take on the burden of fixing problems. So you want to deal with these post haste in order to ensure that no further damage (or expense) results from your negligence. If the roof is in bad shape and you get an allowance to repair or replace it, make sure you do so in a timely manner.
As for maintaining your home once you’ve moved in, there are several basic services you should schedule or perform yourself annually. For starters, you’ll want to flush your water heater, and you should be able to find a plumber to do the job for around $100, although costs will vary somewhat depending on location, the service provider, and whether or not there are other issues that need to be addressed (such as excessive debris or rust in the water). Generally speaking, though, you could also perform this task on your own with little more than a hose, a bucket, and an online tutorial, saving even more money. At this time you may want to snake your drains, as well.
You also need to find a reputable and affordable HVAC service provider in your area to inspect, clean, and maintain your furnace, air conditioning, and duct work yearly, as well as perform any needed repairs to your system. Replacing your furnace and air conditioner will cost you several thousand dollars, but this equipment could last you upwards of 20 years with proper maintenance. Plus, you can more easily avoid common issues like a frozen air conditioner or a malfunctioning furnace when you take the time to maintain your units.
Another home maintenance must, especially if you live in a region that experiences all four seasons, is cleaning the gutters and downspouts and inspecting the roof. If the gutters become clogged with leaves in the fall, winter runoff won’t drain away, ice will form on the edges of your roof, and you could end up with excess weight in snow and ice that collapses into your home during the winter. This is an extreme scenario that you want to avoid.
You should also get up top to check out your roof annually, looking for issues with shingles, tiles, or whatever is up there, and paying special attention to flashing, caulking, and other seals. Don’t forget to look in the attic for signs of leaks, such as wetness, staining, mold, rot, and so on. You can also hire a professional for this important inspection, although you might want to do it yourself and wait to call in the cavalry until you need help, especially if you’re looking to save money on maintenance.