by Julian Lane www.thefixitchamp.com
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This article is courtesy of Julian Lane from www.thefixitchamp.com
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It doesn’t take much tenure as a homeowner to realize that homeownership is an expensive undertaking. Besides the actual mortgage payment, insurance, and utilities, there is the ongoing responsibility of repair and maintenance. Whether in the form of routine work or a surprise project, here’s how to ensure you can cover your expenses.
Be ready for rainy days
Eventually, it happens to everyone. You come home to a sewage backup, a tree falls on the house, or you walk into your basement to find standing water. Even though not unusual, those surprise fixes can add up. Some statistics indicate the average homeowner paid out nearly $3,000 in home repairs in 2015. What’s more, while your home insurance policy might cover certain expenses, there are several repairs not covered under most policies, such as damage relating to power outages, mold, floods, and landslides. Items that simply wear out aren’t covered, and luxury items normally require a special rider. Even if your repairs are covered, you still need to pay your deductible, which typically ranges from $500 to $1,000. No matter how you slice it, the best thing to do is set up a rainy day fund for home repairs.
Mother Nature’s surprises
Mother Nature often has a hand in the surprises homeowners face. From lightning strikes to wind damage, there are all sorts ugly concerns. One of the last things most homeowners give thought to is an unwanted infestation, but rodents, bugs, and other critters can cause any variety of issues. Certain problems are disturbing but are primarily a nuisance, such as rat removal and flea control, but one pest tops all the others: termites. These tiny insects can destroy the framework that holds your home together. Identifying termites can be difficult to the untrained eye, and they tend to avoid light. If you find little piles of wings or sawdust, or see damaged, crumbling wood, it’s important to contact a professional, though it doesn't have to be a national chain. An online search for "termite companies near me" can point you toward a local company that can quickly help address your problem and set up annual visits to keep this from happening again.
Quality work and reasonable costs
When hiring someone to work on your home, it’s important to be diligent. There are many scam artists out there who will try to grab your money and run, so become familiar with the tactics they might use, such as trying to pressure you into snap decisions, or asking for payment in advance. Plan to interview potential candidates, make sure they carry insurance, and ask if they are licensed. Get a list of references and check them. Estimates should be in writing, and The Balance Small Business suggests getting additional documentation before the project begins. A contract outlining the work, statement of what work is expected, and schedule are just a few examples of what you might expect. Paperwork protects both you and the contractor, so anytime someone hesitates to put things in writing, consider it a red flag.
When out-of-pocket is impossible
Whether you’re paying a contractor or buying supplies for a DIY, how will you cover your costs? While cash is the most palatable payment method, you still have other potential options if out-of-pocket is simply not doable. If you have equity in your home, you can borrow against that, and NerdWallet offers a home equity loan calculator to help you tally the numbers. If your home was in the line of a natural disaster, FEMA might lend a hand. Borrowing from friends and family members is an option for some people, or you could consider using credit cards to get you by.
Homeownership requires a great deal of responsibility, not the least of which is figuring out how to swing repair bills. If something catches you off-guard, weigh your options, and make sure you hire good help when you need it. With a plan at your fingertips, you can handle those little (or not so little) surprises that come your way.
Hi - this is Werner with Home Inspection Tennessee