Article Courtesy of Julian Lane
There are certain repairs that every homeowner dreads. You may not even know which ones cost the most, but you know that they will hit your bank account hard if (and when) they come up. Instead of feeling like a victim just waiting for trouble to come, the best thing you can do is plan ahead. Planning for major home repairs means knowing what to expect, doing what you can to prevent problems, and figuring out how to cover the costs.
What Type of Repairs Can You Expect?
You can save money by doing small projects yourself, but major repairs typically require a professional contractor. There are several reasons why more major issues happen, but regular wear and tear is often the culprit. Nothing is made to last forever, and many parts of your home — like your air conditioner, roof, and windows — have a limited average lifespan. When you think about preparing for the future, it helps to know when each system was last replaced so you can gauge when repairs or replacements might be needed.
According to American Lifestyle Magazine, some of the most common major home repairs include roofs, windows, gutters, air conditioner and HVAC/furnace, and your hot water heater. It’s a good idea to be familiar with some of these common repairs:
- Roof – The average lifespan of an asphalt shingle roof is about 12 to 15 years. Some roof problems can be repaired, but there are a few signs that indicate it may be time for a replacement, including visible damage to shingles or signs of water damage on the ceiling and walls. The average cost to replace a roof ranges from $4,900 to $14,100.
- HVAC System – Your HVAC system is made up of several components, including your air conditioner and furnace or heat pump. Maintaining your system properly can extend its life, but the average lifespan ranges from about 15 to 25 years.
- Accidents – Accidents are a pretty broad category, but you don’t want to discount the possibility they can happen. Broken appliances, burst pipes, and natural disasters can happen to anyone. The problems that result may include everything from water damage to structural issues. Water damage may require the help of a specialist to clean things up and a contractor to replace walls and ceilings.
How Can You Plan to Cover the Costs?
When something needs to be repaired unexpectedly, the first thing you should do is check with your homeowners insurance or warranty company to see if they will cover the repairs. Whether or not the repairs are covered often depends on your policy, but there are types of repairs, like mold damage, neglect, and some natural disasters, that are rarely covered by insurance.
Since insurance doesn’t cover every home repair you’ll encounter, the best thing you can do is plan ahead by saving money for these expenses. Discover.com recommends saving at least 1 percent of your home’s value each year. The other thing to remember is that you will need immediate access to this money when the time comes, so you will want it in a high-interest savings account that you can withdraw from when you need it.
Part of the challenge when handling repairs is to find the right contractor at the right price. This can be a balancing act because you want someone who is affordable, but the lowest bid often means they cut corners. Finding someone who is reputable and reliable should be your first priority. After researching your options, This Old House recommends interviewing potential contractors and meeting them in person. During that time, you can ask for bids and set up a payment schedule with the one you choose.
Taking the time to select the best contractor (and not just the least expensive) will be worth it in the long run because a quality job will last well into the future. Anticipating these major repairs can be a scary proposition, but ignoring the possibilities is even scarier. Your home is a big investment, and planning ahead is the best way to keep it protected.
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