If you’re a homeowner you know this already, home improvements never end. When we bought our fixer upper in 2012 we did a big renovation project that covered many of the major areas in our home such as, kitchen, bathroom and new flooring.
Since then we’ve had to replace the water heater, sump pump and air conditioning. The fact is that owning a home requires maintenance and repairs. Below I discuss some of my lessons learned and ideas on how to prepare for home improvements.
Decide What Type of Home You Want
It all starts with what type of home you want to buy. To me fixer uppers are special cases because they will require more home improvements than other homes. There are many questions to ask if you’re going this route. For example, will you be doing improvements all at once or slowly as the years go by? Will you DIY it or hire contractors? This will help you determine how much money you will need immediately for home improvements once you purchase the home.
If you’re a first time home buyer it can be difficult to figure out costs without having experience. Learn as much as you can about homeownership and repairs. Do research online and talk to family members or friends who are homeowners to get a real feel for how much things costs. Be specific with your questions too because sometimes people will just give you a general idea but the devil is in the details. You’d be surprised how expensive small items can be. I’ll tell you that I wish I did more of this when I was planning to purchase a home.
While house hunting remember to look out for the condition of things such as, flooring and kitchen cabinets. You can save a lot just by not having to replace these items and maybe doing a light touch up instead. Also, check out my post on uncommon things to consider while house hunting.
Once you get an idea on costs, save, save, save, before you buy. Believe me you will not be sorry to have more than enough money to cover your home improvement projects. Ever heard how home renovations can easily double in cost? When you renovate, you never know what you’re going to find behind walls or underneath floors. It’s best to have that extra savings as materials and labor costs can be expensive.
You can always save by DIYing some of the projects, but if you don’t have the skills to do so that may not be the best option for certain complicated repairs. For example, plumbing and electrical are two areas that I don’t feel comfortable doing work myself.
Ask for a Credit at Closing
Speaking from experience and if you’re buying a fixer upper be sure to get a home inspection and ask for credits at closing to cover any home repairs for items that are on their last leg. For example, we received a $3,000 credit a closing because of some of the issues that were found during the home inspection. The cost to replace the items I mentioned above was about $2,200 so it was worth it to ask for the credit. In our state everything was done through a real estate lawyer so we didn’t have to negotiate this directly with the sellers.
DIY It or Ask for Help
As I mentioned above, do it yourself projects can be a great way to cut costs. Youtube is a great resource. Also, ask for help from family and friends who may have some skills you may not. I had family members help me with installing light fixtures, door knobs, closet organizers and bathroom vanities. I would also recommend paying attention and learning from them while they’re performing these tasks. Family members or friends may not always be available to help.
Replenish Your Maintenance Fund Every Year
Ever since we bought our home we’ve been saving 1% of the home’s value for home maintenance, repairs and emergencies. Saving 1% of the home’s value is a general rule but you can always save more if you’d like especially if you have a specific project in mind. But I would recommend to save at least 1%. This doesn’t mean that every year you will be using that fund but at least it’s there for any emergencies.
Being a homeowner is different from being a renter. The main difference being that you are now solely responsible for everything that goes wrong in your property and you need to be prepared. The good thing is there are many resources out there to help you with the challenge. And in the end you will enjoy the many perks of homeownership for years to come.
What other tips do you have?
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