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The expenses don’t end when you buy a house. In fact, they’re just beginning! Homes require upkeep and regular maintenance.
You might not take this into account when purchasing a home, especially if you’re moving from an apartment where maintenance and upkeep is largely handled by the property owner. This can result in surprise or even alarm when it’s time for some routine maintenance or for a key appliance to get replaced.
More than 80 percent of homebuyers are hit with a significant repair within the first year of ownership and feel underprepared for the overall cost of home repairs, according to data from insurance company Hippo. Data from Clever found that the average American spends over $3,000 per year on maintenance and repairs.
During the pandemic, we all spent more time at home. We also put more wear and tear on our homes, meaning more maintenance in general. Unfortunately, the cost and access to the supplies and tools needed to do that maintenance has surged due to supply chain issues. That paired with the increased number of extreme weather conditions that have occurred in recent years has led to an increase in the repairs being performed and a rise in the overall cost of those fixes, according to home services company Angi’s most recent “State of Home Spending” report.
Below are some of the most common ongoing costs of homeownership. These are the regular maintenance expenses you can count on running into and will want to prepare for.
1. Lawn care and landscaping
Lawn care is one of the most time-consuming parts of home maintenance. For many people, it also feels like one of the most important because it is the part of your home that people see first. HomeGuide found that the average American spends about $1,200 to $2,400 per year on lawn care and landscaping. Most of that is tied up in mowing, watering, and general landscaping like tree trimming and gardening.
2. HVAC cleaning and maintenance
Air quality matters in your home. Giving your HVAC system a regular cleaning helps in this regard. According to Home Advisor, the average cost of cleaning your air ducts comes out to $376. While you should only need to do full cleaning once every five years or so, some smaller maintenance and replacing filters make breathing easier at home.
3. Clearing rain gutters
It’s important to clean your gutters to prevent damage to both the interior and the exterior of your home. If gutters get blocked by leaves and debris, you may end up with water overflow that risks damaging your roof and walls of your home if water builds up in places it isn’t supposed to be. HomeAdvisor says the average cost of gutter cleaning is about $161, and it’s recommended you clean them one to three times per year depending on the weather in your region. However, you can often clean gutters yourself to keep the expenses low.
4. Pest prevention
Stray bugs will find their way into your home, but serious infestations are something that you don’t want to mess with. Paying for an exterminator or more serious pest control situation that requires fumigation or other types of care can cost thousands of dollars, but HomeAdvisor says the average pest control measures cost $176. You can do some pest control on your own by purchasing traps and sprays that kill invaders before the problem gets out of control. Prevention often goes a long way in these situations.
5. Replacing smoke alarm batteries
Smoke alarms (hopefully) don’t go off often, but they are always monitoring to keep you safe. You’ll want to make sure they are in working order by replacing batteries regularly — as often as once per year, according to the National Fire Protection Association (NFPA). You can avoid this recurring cost by getting a 10-year smoke alarm, which may cost a little more up front (around $50) but saves you more in the long run. Also, consider installing carbon monoxide alarms if your home lacks these.
6. Housekeeping and house cleaning
A clean home is a safer home. Regularly cleaning your home, from scrubbing down countertops and other heavy traffic areas to vacuuming and sweeping is often a task that consumes more time than money. However, it does require some investment in cleaning supplies — and they won’t last forever, either. Americans spend more than $830 per year on cleaning supplies, per Statista. You can keep your costs down by extending the life of your cleaning supplies, though. For instance, microwaving non-metal sponges to disinfect them will keep them cleaning for longer. You can also clean your broom and remove fraying bristles to extend its life.
7. Pool care
A swimming pool is a luxury amenity, but it’s not without its downsides. Pool upkeep can be expensive. According to HomeGuide, the average homeowner with a pool spends about $960 to $1,800 per year in basic cleaning, supplies and upkeep. That isn’t even including the price for opening and closing the pool, electricity bills, and small repairs. In total, pool owners are likely looking at expenses up to $5,000 per year on maintenance.
Bottom line on home maintenance costs
Home maintenance costs are one of those expenses that you may not factor in when purchasing a home. You’ll want to set aside some money each year for the expenses that come up just to keep your home running smoothly. State Farm recommends between 1 to 4 percent of your home’s value. The median American home sold for $375,000 in 2021, so the median homeowner is going to want to set aside between $3,750 to $15,000 per year for maintenance costs.
While that might seem like a lot, it’s worth noting that the money isn’t just disappearing. Home upkeep is essential, both for maintaining your life within the home and for the potential sale of it: One University of Connecticut/Syracuse University study, cited by the National Association of Realtors, has suggested that regular maintenance even adds 1 percent in value annually to your home. And North Carolina State University Extension research has found that performing annual upkeep helps stave off more expensive repairs or system replacements. It’s an investment, in other words: in your home’s life and your enjoyment of it.