A (First-Time) Homeowner’s Guide to Budgeting for House Maintenance



The old saying is timeless and true: failing to plan is planning to fail!

Previously living in rented accommodations or at our parents’ house can make it hard to see the cost and effort behind home maintenance. But for a homeowner, it literally comes with the territory!

So, if you are a first-time homeowner or thinking about buying a house, you may want to calculate a budget for home maintenance.

So, here are a few things to consider when asking yourselves how much to budget for home maintenance.

The First Rule Is…There Are No Rules!

Ok, that might not be exactly true, but we say this as a warning. 90% of articles will focus on two “rules of thumb”; The 1% rule (or the like), or the square foot rule.

Many websites advertise these two rules as the gospel of the home maintenance budget. The rest of this article will show you why this is not necessarily the case.

The first rule is called “the 1% rule”. This posits that, annually, you should set aside 1% of the purchase price of your house. While this is a good starting place, this rule doesn’t take into account less obvious factors like market fluctuation and mortgage availability.

There are far more factors that go into your house’s overall purchase price than the size and condition of the house. So, make sure to at least get a more accurate evaluation of your house’s value before using this rule.

The second rule is “the square foot rule” This recommends saving $1 for every square ft of your house for the annual budget for home maintenance. This rule has far more advantages than the 1% rule, but it’s still not infallible!

The cost of labor and materials varies from place to place. So, working solely on this rule might be misleading depending on the type of maintenance your house might need.

Look at the Bigger Picture

Let’s not throw the baby out with the bathwater here: these two rules of thumb can provide a good estimate if done correctly.

By accounting for all of the deficiencies of these rules and creating a holistic calculation of the two, a more accurate budget may be achieved.

When doing so, we might want to take into consideration special kinds of maintenance that will be specific to your house and neighborhood. Factors like age, environment, and weather can have a direct or knock-on effect on the maintenance of your house.

Let’s take extreme cold as an example. Snow can have a direct influence on pipes and roofing. Indirectly, it can affect your decisions on the type of heating system you use. HVAC maintenance may not be directly affected by snow, but it will have an effect on you if it breaks down mid-winter!

Once you’ve made an honest assessment of the “bigger picture”, an average of these and the above-mentioned rules of thumb can give you a more realistic budget for home maintenance and repairs.

Each Budget for Home Maintenance Is Unique

Budgeting for home maintenance early can save you money and time. Notice, though, that in this entire article there wasn’t a single figure used. That’s because there are far too many variables to recommend a universal budget for home maintenance.

All we can give you is the formula to calculate it. Your house may be old but carefully maintained, new but on a floodplain: There is no one-size-fits-all budget.

There is, though, the ability to research and lay the foundation for a solid and trustworthy maintenance budget…it just takes a little time. But, we are here to help!

So, if you want more information for homeowners keep browsing our site.


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