How to Prepare for Unexpected Home Repairs


Virtually everyone who has lived in an apartment, and then purchased a home, has had this experience: You’re hanging out in your new house, everything is going great, and then something expensive breaks. Maybe your HVAC unit died, or your hot water heater sprung a leak, and your initial thought was “Okay, guess I’d better call the landlord to get this fixed”. And then, almost immediately, another much more alarming thought comes to mind – “Uh oh, wait a sec, I AM the landlord! Water heaters are cheap, right??”

Yes, along with the joy of home ownership come the inevitable maintenance costs. Things are going to break, and you’ll be footing the bill when it happens. Some things are cheap to replace, and some things are shockingly expensive. The best you can do is follow the Boy Scout’s motto and try to be prepared. Here are some steps you can start taking now to mitigate the stress and financial strain that can happen when unexpected home repairs are needed:

1. An Emergency Fund is key

The old rule of thumb was to keep at least 1% of your home’s value socked away in an emergency fund. Although that amount is still a good goal to work towards, home values have risen to the point where many people will need to slowly work their way up to saving that amount. Plan to have at least $2,000 available in your emergency fund, as that will cover the cost of most types of home repairs at least once.

If your home has built up some equity already, you can access it to help pay for expensive repairs as well. There are several options available to access your home’s equity, each with their own pros and cons. Tapping your home equity probably isn’t a good Plan A to pay for unexpected home repairs, but just know that it may be an option for you and that the interest rates are far lower than something like a personal loan or using a credit card.

2. Keep up with preventative maintenance

Ben Franklin once said “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure” Although it’s likely he wasn’t specifically referring to your roof when he said this, the advice is still solid. Regular maintenance will make your appliances last for longer, and will save you money in the long term. Did you know that your dishwasher and washing machine have a filter that you’re supposed to clean every couple of months? Ever heard of an anode rod? Did you know that you’re supposed to drain your hot water tank occasionally? Properly maintaining equipment can double its lifespan!

3. Find a Youtube Guru

Youtube is a great resource for people who are a little more DIY-oriented! Just search for the type of repair that needs to be done, find a video explaining how to do it, and then probably stay away from the comments section. You’d be surprised at just how do-able many home repairs are, even for a complete newbie. When you’re just paying for the parts and doing the labor yourself, the price tag for many home repairs will come down by a lot.

Keep in mind that some things are best left to the professionals. An easy rule of thumb is this: If doing the repair badly could result in bodily harm, it may be best to let an expert handle it. Repairs to high voltage electrical systems, or appliances that use natural gas, are good examples of projects you shouldn’t tackle unless you know exactly what you’re doing.


Andrew Holder

About The Author

Andrew Holder has been working in the mortgage industry for several years now. His favorite part of working with Mortgage Center is that he is given the opportunity to make the mortgage process clear, concise, and simple for every member he works with. When he's not working, he loves traveling, having already visited 10 countries and has plans to see many more.

To get in touch with Andrew or to learn more about him, click here


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