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Are you procrastinating on a home improvement project? If so, you’re not alone. Plenty of homeowners have a long list of deferred maintenance projects, from plumbing inspections to roof repairs. Frequently, homeowners wait until the roof is leaking or another emergency comes up that needs to be addressed immediately.
These kinds of home repairs can become significantly more expensive the longer you put them off. Today’s pipe clog can turn into tomorrow’s sewer backup — and the sooner you replace your roof shingles, the sooner you’ll protect your home from the kinds of leaks that require you to replace your ceiling or your carpets.
Plus, home improvements can increase the value of your home — whether you pay for those improvements in cash, take out a home equity loan or home equity line of credit (HELOC) or work with a service like Unlock to get the cash you need to tackle deferred home maintenance projects.
Here’s what you need to know about how to get your home repairs off the to-do list as quickly as possible — and how to do it without breaking your budget.
Home maintenance projects people commonly defer
Home maintenance can take a lot of work— which is why deferred maintenance projects are so common! Here are five of the most commonly deferred home improvement projects:
- Roof: You can often prevent the high cost of a roof replacement with simpler, less-expensive repairs — but only if you don’t put off regular roof maintenance.
- Pipes: Hiring a trusted plumber to do a yearly pipe inspection could prevent costly pipe repairs in the future. Get your pipes checked annually for clogs and leaks.
- Chimney: If your home has a chimney, it needs an annual cleaning to prevent buildup. During this yearly maintenance project, your chimney specialist can also caulk any potentially leaky areas.
- Water heater: Hot water maintenance is an essential part of homeownership — so make sure you understand your water heater manual and know when to bring in a professional for servicing.
- HVAC: It’s usually easy to change your HVAC air filters yourself, so add them to your home maintenance to-do list. If your HVAC system is no longer heating or cooling as quickly as it used to, it may be time to bring in a professional — or shop for an upgrade.
Why are these projects deferred?
Often, home improvement projects are deferred for three reasons: time, money and uncertainty.
If you don’t know whether you can do a home repair yourself or need to ask a professional for help, you are likely to procrastinate on the repair — especially if you’re worried that bringing in a professional is going to cost a lot of money.
Additionally, the time it takes to research the issue, decide whether to DIY or bring in the pros, choose between reputable service providers and budget for the expense adds up. You could spend several hours (or days) working on your home improvement project before you have the information you need to begin addressing the problem directly.
The more effort a home improvement project is likely to require, the more likely you are to defer it. This is why many people put off roof repairs until they wake up to a leaky ceiling, and why people neglect their water heaters until they find themselves standing under a cold shower.
Why it can help to tackle them sooner than later
Home repairs are like any other type of repairs — the earlier you address the problem, the easier it is to solve. Regularly cleaning your chimney to remove creosote buildup is much easier than dealing with a chimney fire. Repairing roof shingles is easier than dealing with a leaky, moldy roof.
Home maintenance projects are also less expensive when you tackle them early. Deferred maintenance projects can quickly grow into more complicated — and more expensive — problems. Fixing that loose shingle on your roof is much more cost-effective than dealing with leaks, mold and water damage.
We’ve put together a seasonal home maintenance checklist to help you understand which issues to tackle when.
How you can fit maintenance projects into your budget
Home maintenance projects can be expensive — but don’t worry. Here are three ways to fit home repairs into your budget:
- Set up money in advance: Every month, put a little money aside specifically for home improvement. This money should be separate from your emergency fund, if possible. By setting aside money before you need it, you’ll be more likely to have cash on hand when it comes time to deal with important homeowner issues.
- Request a payment plan: Before you start working with professionals like plumbers, roofers and HVAC specialists, ask if they accept payment in installments. With a payment plan in place, many home repairs can become much more affordable.
- Consider HELOCs and home equity loans: HELOCs and home equity loans both allow you to borrow against the value of your home. You can use the money for home improvement, pay back the loan and potentially increase your home’s value.
- Home equity sharing agreements: Unlock is one such company that provides homeowners with available funds now and takes a percentage of the home’s value later.
Why use a solution like Unlock
Want to access money for deferred home maintenance projects without having to borrow against the value of your home? You might want to consider Unlock, a new service that allows you to access the equity you’ve built in your home without taking out a loan or paying interest.
How does Unlock work? It’s simple: Unlock gives you cash now in exchange for a percentage of your home’s future value. The cash offered is based on four factors: your home’s current value, preexisting house debt, your creditworthiness and use of your property. For example, Unlock could provide you with 10 percent of your home’s value in funds for 16 percent of the future value of your home.
Then, you can use this money to tackle deferred maintenance projects. The improvements in turn can add value to your home. Should you decide to sell your home in the future, an appraiser will determine how much value was added to your home from the improvements that were made. This amount will be taken out of the percentage that is due to Unlock, and in the above example, factored out of that 16 percent.
Each Unlock contract lasts for 10 years, during which you can sell your home and give Unlock its share of the sale. You can also choose to end the Unlock agreement after six months — without a prepayment penalty — by which you can buy out Unlock’s share in your home.
Unlock gives homeowners the opportunity to complete much-needed home repairs or begin dream home improvement projects — potentially raising the worth of your home without dealing with loans or interest fees. Read our 2022 Unlock review to learn more.
The bottom line
Many homeowners don’t realize how much home maintenance can cost them — which is why deferred maintenance projects are so common. Luckily, there are many ways to deal with the cost of home repairs. You can pay for repairs in installments, take out a home equity loan or work with a service like Unlock to access the necessary cash.
Remember, home repairs are likely to get more expensive the longer you put them off, which is why it’s better to complete deferred maintenance projects sooner rather than later. Plus, any home improvement projects you tackle today could increase the total value of your home tomorrow.