No matter how busy we are, our lives revolve around our homes. A house isn’t just one of the biggest assets one can have – it dictates the quality of life one can live. When all the main utilities are taken care of, a house takes care of you in return. To ensure this, you need the right home repair service.

As we say, own your home, not its problems – and homeowners nationwide are investing more in that idea. A 2020 study by home improvement research specialist, Koen van Gelder, found that homeowners in the US spent $7,560 on home repairs and maintenance in 2018 on average. This figure was a significant increase from the $6,649 average in the year before.

Of course, an average doesn’t tell the full story.

Repairs and maintenance include a wide range of services. Depending on the vendor and your location, the cost of these services can vary wildly. Not only can that make it difficult to budget for maintenance throughout the year, but you may find yourself overpaying or stretching yourself too thin working with multiple contractors or repair people.

Still, a quality home repair service is the best gift you can give your home. So is there a way to get the service you need while cutting out unnecessary stress in the process? Let’s take a look at some solutions that can get you the most value out of your home management plan.

A home repair service is an investment

Did you know that regular maintenance saves you money in the long run? As a form of preventative care, good maintenance can find and fix problems before they become expensive.

The cost of repairs aside, a broken system in your home is a major inconvenience. We don’t think about plumbing until it stops working, at which point everything grinds to a halt. The same is true for electrical, drainage, and protective systems.

Preventative care limits the impact a breakdown can cause. Often, it’s also the only way to inspect areas of your home you wouldn’t typically access. Of course, this inspection should be done by a professional. We’ll look at how finding the right repair person can turn home maintenance into a hassle-free, efficient process further down.

For now, it’s important to understand that a home repair and maintenance service is a proactive measure. The planning you do now counts towards risk management (limiting what can go wrong) and asset management (upholding the value of your home).

The best care for your budget

Of course, no investment is without an initial cost. To find the best home repair service, it helps to consider the financial impact of different services, and what your property will need throughout the year.

For example, are you working with an all-inclusive vendor that offers you all the services you need in-house? If not, you may find yourself losing time to research, asking for referrals, requesting quotes, comparing services, following up – only to find you paid unnecessary service fees to multiple companies.

Finding service specialists to perform different tasks also means more people moving through your home. Specialists also set higher prices for services in their niche, and this can quickly eat into your budget.

Related: An ounce of prevention, a pound of cure

Speaking of budgets, how much should you set aside for maintenance?

The Consumer Financial Protection Bureau (CFPB) recommends that homeowners set aside 1% of a home’s value for maintenance every year. This is only a rule of thumb; every home is different. Still, the CFPB offers a free monthly payment worksheet to help you put a budget together based on your income, financial responsibilities, and what you can afford.

Why should you consider a maintenance plan?

No matter what your budget, you want to get the most possible value out of it.

Regular maintenance is still the best way to limit what you’ll end up spending, but some methods offer a higher return on investment than others. Breaking things down into specialized tasks and multiple contractors can be expensive and time-consuming, especially if some services aren’t available locally.

So what can you do to maximize the returns you’ll see? Well, a good maintenance plan is tailor-made to these issues.

A maintenance plan is an all-inclusive service program. It covers all of the regular tasks that need to be performed throughout the year, usually with a set schedule so you know what to expect and when. This way, everything happens in a single appointment, no need to juggle different company schedules.

With a maintenance plan, you only deal with one service provider. Taking care of your property becomes a task, not a second job.

The best plans pair you with a dedicated plan manager you can run all of your communication through. Not only do you get all of your services from one shop, but you end up working with one person who understands your specific needs.

This type of support system can streamline everything. Suddenly, you’re talking to one person and managing one service. Because everything is provided in-house, you also know that quality standards will be consistent across the board.

What type of services should you expect from a maintenance plan?

The best maintenance plans offer the services you want, and the ones you didn’t know you’d need.

The downside of separate companies is that they can only help you within their niches. This is how some maintenance checkups slip through the cracks and become full-on repair jobs.

When an expert puts together a maintenance plan, they have to consider all of the essential functions. It needs to be compiled by people who see maintenance as a collection of different disciplines, and know how they work together to create a functional, comfortable home.

More specifically, a quality maintenance plan might include the following:

  • Inspecting appliances, lights, drains, circuits, and plumbing
  • Replacing broken parts
  • Sanitizing appliances prone to build-up (e.g. dishwashers, washing machines, and garbage disposal)
  • Inspecting, replacing, and testing smoke and CO detectors
  • Detecting and fixing gas and liquid leaks
  • Repairing electrical and plumbing insulation
  • System flushing
  • Replacing AC filters and cleaning condenser coils

Many of these tasks don’t receive attention until it’s too late, and it’s understandable why. Some systems, like plumbing and wiring, are invisible. No matter how much time we spend in our homes, we can’t see through walls.

It’s the leaks, blockages, and breakdowns that tell us when something’s wrong. By the time these symptoms show up, the problem might already be a few months old. The stress that comes with that is plenty already, but it can also lead to unexpected bills that can disrupt your finances.

The right plan reduces risk and unexpected costs

The companies that provide utilities like water and electricity are responsible for maintenance on their end, and for anything that happens in the feeder system. But if a leak or fault happens on your property, you end up paying for utilities you didn’t use.

The United States Environmental Protection Agency (USEPA) found that, on average, a household’s leaks can waste almost 10 000 gallons of water every year. As part of their ‘Fix a Leak Week’ awareness campaign, they estimated that 10% of homes waste 90 gallons or more a day because of leaks.

For context, USEPA found that a person in the US uses 82 gallons of water a day at home. While that number was estimated in a 2015 study, more recent data supports it. WaterTalks – a public water sustainability program – found that the figure had risen to 85 gallons a day by Feb 2018.

So a leak in your home can end with you paying for an extra person’s water consumption, even if you live alone.

The most common types of leaks USEPA identified were:

  • Dripping faucets
  • Worn toilet flappers
  • Leaking valves

Regular maintenance can pinpoint these issues, which are also more common in older homes. The average age of a house in the US is around 37 years. Even homes built to last need regular care to prevent cumulative damage, especially in areas prone to environmental hazards and extreme weather.

What if you end up needing repairs anyway?

Despite how well we plan, sometimes, life just happens. Older systems, extreme weather conditions, misuse, and accidents can all leave you looking for an emergency repair service. Even then, there are ways to limit the impact unexpected repairs have on your budget.

A maintenance plan that includes repair services can help you in three big ways:

  • You don’t waste time looking for another company
  • You work with technicians who are already familiar with your property
  • You pay a pre-agreed rate included in the maintenance plan

Working with the same company protects you at a very vulnerable time. There’s nothing worse than negotiating with a new company when things are desperate. In an emergency, you want to work with partners you trust – like a liaising manager in charge of your repair needs.

With repairs, you’re not just paying for the callout either. You’re charged for the parts a technician needs to fix a problem. Some companies markup these parts, so you may end up paying more than you need to.

Related: What isn’t your contractor telling you?

Again, these are factors that can be ironed out early if you have a maintenance plan. Ideally, look for one that will only charge you wholesale prices for parts. In other words, you pay only what the home repair service pays to the supplier, and nothing more.

The benefits of knowing your repair person

Earlier, we said that knowing your repair person can make a world of difference. This is where that relationship is so helpful.

A repair person who’s already familiar with your home can focus on the problem at hand. They don’t need to ask you for long-forgotten manuals, or directions to valves, switches, and circuits.

Repairs rarely happen when we’re ready for them, so you may not be home throughout the whole process either. If you need to leave your home at any point, it helps to know that you’re leaving someone you trust, who also takes responsibility for maintaining that trust.

This is another advantage of an all-inclusive plan. Getting your repair and maintenance services from one company creates a system of accountability. The company becomes responsible for providing a trustworthy, professional service in every area – oversight comes from one place.

The buck stops with the same people every time.

A plan manager – or anyone overseeing services and communication with you – is your first point of support too.

Even if you don’t know your repair person, you’ll know the professional they report to. A plan manager is responsible for setting the standard. The services you receive, and the people that perform them, are led by someone invested in offering you a quality experience and building a strong customer relationship.

How often should maintenance happen?

Full-scale maintenance doesn’t need to happen too often if it’s done correctly. Still, there may be other factors that affect your timeline. Older homes may be more prone to repair needs. Even then, proper maintenance every six months or so should be enough to keep it functional.

The size of your property can also be a factor. Larger homes have larger systems that need to be inspected, evaluated, and maintained. Done right, you still shouldn’t need more than biannual maintenance.

Remember, maintenance is about functionality, not fixing. Your home gets the service it needs to work properly beyond the next round of maintenance. It’s a proactive measure to keep you out of the repair cycle.

But when you do need repairs, urgency and communication are everything.

Finding a company you can partner with doesn’t have to be a hassle either. Maintaining your property should be routine and predictable, and any home repair service should be carried out with efficiency, care, and transparency.

Work with the experts in home repair services and maintenance

At PreFix, we’ve tailored our home repair and maintenance plans around you – the homeowner. With our membership, you get a semi-annual 30-point preventative maintenance service on all appliances and systems. To learn more about how we can help you, visit our site and speak with our team today. We can’t wait to hear from you!