A Homeowner’s Guide to Preventing and Paying for Major Repairs
When it comes to sinking feelings in your stomach, none of them quite compare to the kind you feel when you realize your home needs a major repair. Whether it’s a cracked foundation or a leaking roof, these kinds of projects are going to cost you time, money, and likely a headache or two. If you want to mitigate that sinking feeling, it helps to be prepared for the eventuality of home repairs — first, by doing what you can to prevent them, and second, by having a plan for how you’ll pay for them when they pop up.
Preventing Major Home Repairs
Ask any property owner– the best way to deal with major home repairs is to not have them in the first place. Believe it or not, the most basic home maintenance tasks can prevent large-scale catastrophes in the future. For instance, a busted furnace in the middle of January is a nightmare for you and your family during those cold winter nights, but you can keep your furnace in tip-top condition by simply changing the air filters as needed. It’s also important to select the correct filter size for your unit. If you need a custom size that isn’t available locally, you may need to find them online.
Note that not all filters are made alike — they are rated by their Minimum Efficiency Reporting Value, or MERV rating. Air filters catch particles ranging from textile fibers larger than 10 microns to microscopic bacteria that are less than 0.3 microns. A filter’s MERV rating depends on how efficiently it capture particles that pass through as your furnace is working. A rating of 1 is the least efficient, while 16 is extremely efficient. You may think an air filter with a MERV rating of 16 is best for your family, but these models tend to be expensive and are typically relegated for sterile environments like hospitals. The average family can get by with an efficient air filter that’s rated a 6 to 8, though families who have members with respiratory disease or chronic allergic conjunctivitis may want to pay more for a filter with a MERV rating of 11 to 13.
Paying for Major Home Repairs
All the prevention in the world won’t help those major home repairs caused by natural disasters or long-term wear and tear. That’s why it’s so important for homeowners to weigh their options when it comes to paying for these projects. You may think, “Who cares? I have homeowners insurance to pay for these things,” but the truth is, your insurance doesn’t cover as much as you expect. Some common things homeowners insurance will not cover include:
- Power outages
- Mold damage
- Damage due to negligence
- Sewage backup
- Floods, earthquakes, and landslides
- Intentional damage
For these cases, it’s smart to have a home maintenance and repair fund you can turn to when it’s time to call a contractor, electrician, or plumber. Your maintenance and repairs funds should be separate from your other savings, such as retirement and rainy-day funds. Consider opening an online savings account where you can easily transfer money once you have it, but it’s not so easy to access on a day-to-day basis.
In Birmingham, homeowners spend between $15,000 and $26,500 on home repairs, so having a comfortable home maintenance and repair fund should cover you at any given time. Other ways to pay for emergency home repairs include putting the charges on a credit card or refinancing for a home equity line of credit — neither of which is optimal if you’re trying to keep your credit score up. Start saving today so you have options should an emergency occur.
Major home repairs are no fun. That’s why, as a homeowner, it’s imperative that you prevent them and save up to pay for them should you need to. Even the smallest maintenance projects– like changing the filters in your furnace — can prevent catastrophes in the future. When you can’t prevent them, you need to be prepared to pay out of pocket for repairs. Starting a home maintenance and repair fund as soon as possible means you don’t have to resort to less-desirable methods of payments like putting them on plastic.
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