How to Cover Costs for Unexpected Home Repairs
It’s normal for homeowners to occasionally deal with unexpected expenses. What are your plans if you need a major home repair? While insurance can help in some circumstances, there are sometimes concerns that aren’t covered, caps on benefits, and limits on replacement and values. With good planning, however, you can be prepared when those issues come along.
Rainy Day Fund
Any number of things can happen to your humble abode, and coming home to a flood from a plumbing problem, damage from fallen trees, or other surprise calamities can be upsetting at best. Not only is your home damaged, but you also need to contact your insurance, hire repairmen, clean, and change around your schedule. Insurance companies don’t always cover all damages, either. Repairs stemming from neglect, power outages, flooding, sewage, or mold are all outside of coverage for most insurances. What’s more, the national average cost for a major home repair or renovation is around $10,390.
Most people don’t have that kind of money close at hand, so your first priority should be establishing an emergency fund for home repairs. As Dave Ramsey explains, you can actually build your emergency fund quickly by taking on a second source of income, selling items you own, or paring down your budget. You’ll find your fund comes in handy for replacing items when they wear out as well. The expenses involved with maintaining a home become unwieldy sometimes, especially when things like furnaces, refrigerators, ovens, microwaves, and garage door openers break, particularly if they are beyond repair.
Finding Quality Repairs
When it comes time to hire a contractor to work on your home, the last thing you want is to fall victim to a scam artist. Steer clear of hiring anyone who tries to pressure you into work, as well as those who want payment in advance. Always get everything in writing, and before you even contact a repairman of any sort, US News notes that you should have a plan for your expectations. Know what you want worked on, and have an idea of what your outcome will be. For instance, decide in advance if you want a bathroom completely gutted, retiled and refitted, or if a new toilet and vanity top will suffice.
Not surprisingly, good contractors tend to stay busy, so you can expect to wait a while before work begins. Check references and licenses, and you can even research local court records to see if there is a history of litigation against someone. Always get at least a few bids on your project as well. Another suggestion is to check online reviews to see what other people have to say about contractors you’re considering.
There are many ways to cut costs when planning home repairs or renovations. One idea is to do some of the work yourself. If you can pull up carpet, apply paint, or take down molding, you could save yourself some of the labor costs involved with your project. You can also put off some of the work until later. For example, if you are replacing flooring, perhaps the high-traffic rooms will be your priority and you can do the rest later.
Another idea is to check local hardware and home improvement stores for good deals on materials and make the purchases yourself. If you’re replacing appliances, keep your eyes peeled for energy-efficient models so you can take advantage of tax credits. One place where you don’t want to pinch pennies too much is on whom you hire. As This Old House points out, a contractor who gives you a lowball bid is probably going to be a problem. Consider it a red flag that the contractor is taking shortcuts or does slipshod work.
Home repairs can become expensive quickly. It’s to your advantage to set aside money to pay for repairs, and then do your research before hiring contractors and scheduling projects. With good preparation, you can take things in stride when a rainy day expense comes along.