Lesser Known Home Maintenance Tasks with Big Price Tags

Home maintenance is something that’s always with us. It’s important to plan for the associated costs and to understand how they will morph over time.

Experts recommend that you set aside 1 percent of your home’s purchase price annually for maintenance and repairs, but that’s an average cost. There will thankfully be years when you don’t spend nearly that much on maintenance. Unfortunately, there will also be years in which you spend much more.

What you pay for home maintenance and repairs is influenced by several factors. The age of your home is probably the most significant. New homes need very little maintenance (but they do need it!), while a home that’s over 20 years old will likely be ready for some major updates. That is the time when the roof or major appliances may need replacing. Older homes also need to have weatherproofing restored, in many cases, to hold down energy costs.

Weather itself can have a big impact on the cost of maintaining a home. Climate extremes are hard on houses and their systems. Whether the issue is frigid winters, with their heavy demands on heating systems, frozen pipes, and snow-covered roofs or hot, humid summers, bringing moisture problems and struggles with insect damage, homes are vulnerable to extreme weather.

An informative piece on The Balance blog recommends adding 10 percent to your maintenance budget for each of these factors that fit your house, along with whether it’s located in a floodplain or is a single-family home (condos and duplexes cost less to maintain).

Being aware of this consideration can help considerably in budgeting for home maintenance. Another thing to know about is some of the potential big-ticket repairs that you may encounter on your journey.

Replacing rotting flooring and joists

This job can run into the tens of thousands, and is also a major disruption in the home. Undetected leaks are often left to do their worst for years, and it’s only a matter of time until major repairs are needed.

Avoiding this expense entirely is surprisingly easy. One important, but often overlooked practice is regular inspection of the caulk in the kitchen and bath. The caulking in kitchens and bathrooms keeps water from seeping into the crevices and crannies around sinks and tubs. Once the water gets in, mold proliferates (especially in damp areas around showers and tubs). Worse, infiltrating water could lead to wood rot in the structural framing beneath. Recaulking old or mildewed caulking is a basic home repair, requiring only a few tools and inexpensive materials.

Another way to avoid water damage is to promptly repair plumbing leaks. Fixing leaky faucets and other common household plumbing leaks can save the average homeowner about 10 percent on water bills, according to the U.S. Environmental Protection Agency.

Repairing or replacing damaged decking

Particularly if you’re living in one of the extreme climates mentioned above, a neglected deck might need to be extensively repaired or even replaced. A few gallons of sealant will cost $50 or less and applying it can be the work of one afternoon.

Repairing termite damage

It costs $3000 on average to repair termite damage to the home, according to Termite.com, and fumigating the house would cost even more. This cost can be avoided with regular inspections, which are very inexpensive: usually under $100. When trouble is identified, the problem can be eliminated with an inexpensive spot treatment.

Roof repairs and replacement

Okay, this probably doesn’t qualify as a lesser-known maintenance expense, but did you know that a lot of roof problems are caused by clogged or damaged gutters?

It’s true. Getting water off and away from the house as quickly as possible is the best way to keep it from doing any damage. When gutters backup and overflow, water seeps under the shingles and begins its insidious work on vulnerable materials. Keeping your gutters clear can save you some serious change.

Repairing foundation cracks, bulges, and settling

The foundation’s integrity affects all the parts of your home, so when problems develop you may be forced to pay thousands for repairs. The Foundation Repair Network reports that major foundation repairs can cost $10,000 to $14,000, while repairing a single crack may cost $800 to $1500.

These costs can often be completely avoided through regular inspection. Preventative steps can include ensuring that downspouts empty at least 2 feet from the foundation, and that the ground slopes away from the house to keep water from pooling at the foundation.

Download a free copy of our whitepaper: What does Home Maintenance Really Cost?