So you did it—you bought your own home! You’re excited to host parties because no one lives below you now and you don’t have to ask anyone’s permission to paint over the horrendous mint green bathroom walls. You feel like a real adult! But you spent an entire afternoon reconnecting the dryer hose and it seems like nothing you do will keep the windows clean. No one told you the upkeep for this home was going to be, like, a whole thing.
As a new homeowner you’ve got enough on your plate, what with scraping off all the floral wallpaper and de-haunting your attic. You don’t need something else to stress about. But neglecting regular home maintenance could lead to serious issues down the line. So, to keep things simple, here are four essential dos and maybe-don'ts to keep in mind.
A recent survey showed that American homeowners spend an average of $3,000 a year on regular home upkeep—everything from new appliances to replacing screen doors. They also spend around $2,300 on unforeseen emergencies like mold removal and HVAC repair.
Unsurprisingly, one of the main reasons homes fall into disrepair is cost, which is why every homeowner should have a designated savings account for home maintenance. How much is in there depends on what you’re able to sustainably put away and what your projected costs might be. Older homes often require more upkeep, and factors like your local climate can determine how often major repairs on roofs or siding may be needed.
If there are projects your maintenance fund can’t cover, you might consider opening a home equity line of credit (HELOC). This type of financing allows you to access your home’s equity to finance needed repairs or improvements. Talk to your PRMI loan officer to explore your HELOC options.
Put off repairs
It’s a fact of life that repairs never show up at convenient times, and only 55% of Americans say they attend to needed fixes right away—leaving the rest of us to put them off until it starts impacting our sleep. But it is also a fact that many minor issues (like a poorly sealed window) can metastasize into major problems (like water damage) if left unchecked.
When you become aware of something around the house that needs a little TLC, don’t put it off. While there are countless other ways you’d rather spend your Saturday than wander around the hardware store looking for caulk, $15 now could save you $1,500 down the road.
Make a plan
Home maintenance is more than just a biannual deep clean, which is why it’s smart to make a year-round plan featuring a few simple, seasonal tasks to do every week. This week might be patching shower grout while next week is checking for hornets. Sticking to a schedule will help ensure that nothing falls through the cracks while leaving you time on the weekends to, well, weekend.
Forget the yard!
Even if you don’t spend a lot of time outside or have a particularly green thumb, yard maintenance can be just as important as keeping your actual house ship-shape. If not well-kept, yards can quickly get out of control and lose curb appeal. But more important, forgetting your yard can lead to potential safety hazards and other liabilities. If you have trees, make sure their branches are a safe distance away from power lines and windows. Your city or HOA may also have regulations about the size or placement of trees or other large plants. And if you live in a cooler climate, don’t forget to prep your irrigation lines for winter!
As a new homeowner you’ve got more than enough to keep you busy, so the more efficient you can be with home maintenance, the more time you’ll have to actually enjoy being in your home. By creating and sticking to a few simple home health habits, you’ll be able to enjoy your home for many years to come.