When I bought my house about 12 years ago, I knew my expenses would be much higher than the amount I put into my mortgage each month. Although I bought new construction, I was well aware that repairs would eat up some of my income over time.
Over the years I have spent many thousands of dollars on home repairs. But those bills could have been much worse. Here’s a clever thing I did to keep my costs to a minimum.
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It’s all about being prepared
A major reason why so many homeowners end up spending a small fortune on repairs is that those repairs often occur in emergency situations. When you have a water leak, a problem with your heating system, or any other issue that directly affects your ability to function normally in your home, you generally have no choice but to address it immediately. What often happens in that situation is that you go with the first contractor who can fix the problem, even if that contractor isn’t the most cost effective. And as a result, you spend more money.
To avoid that, my husband and I did some research on home repairs before they got into the mix. We called a number of plumbing and heating/cooling companies in our area and got estimates over the phone for various issues, such as leaks and system failures, even when those things didn’t happen. We also gathered information on how much those different companies charge to make a service call (usually there is a base rate for a professional to come to your door, which is on top of the cost of your actual repairs).
After collecting cost data, we surveyed neighbors and friends in the areas to see if any of them had used the companies we spoke to. We wanted to make sure they had good experiences. After getting at least one positive approval in each repair category, we narrowed down our list of companies and saved it in a shared spreadsheet. And now, when home repairs really hit and can’t be delayed, we know which contractors will charge us the least money without sacrificing quality when called.
For example, when we researched heating and cooling experts, we found one company that would completely eliminate its service charges for customers with a prepaid maintenance contract. Since we had to maintain our systems annually, signing that contract made sense.
On the other hand, there really is no such thing as a preventive maintenance contract for plumbing. But after doing our research, we know which plumber in our area is the least likely to call in an emergency, and that’s who we’d call if the need arises.
Do your research
If you own a home, you have to accept that emergency repairs will be made to your home at some point or another. And the better prepared you are before that happens, the better.
If you’re new to your area and not sure where to start with your research, it’s a good bet to ask for recommendations from neighbors. Also see if your city has a social media page where residents share that kind of information. And, of course, a simple Google search will lead you to a list of nearby contractors based on your zip code.
It may not be possible to pay for home repairs. But you can do a little legwork beforehand to pay a little less for it.