Your home is a substantial investment (likely the biggest one you’ll ever make in your life) so you want it to be well maintained, safe, comfortable, and in good condition for years to come. However, your house is full of items that require regular maintenance and repairs to stay on track. Maintenance issues can get very costly, and people are spending more and more on their home’s basic needs.
Those are the facts, and one thing is sure: maintaining your home on a schedule gives you a big leg up on this seemingly never-ending repair cycle. It can also save you a lot of money in the long run, especially if you plan to sell the home eventually.
When you keep ahead of the many tasks in your home, everything will operate correctly and at peak performance when you need it most. You’ll also catch minor issues before they become big, expensive headaches.
That’s the challenge you face, and keeping those unavoidable repair costs down should be a priority. Otherwise, you won’t know how to price out repair services when the time comes because not every homeowner can take the DIY route successfully.
You’ll need help estimating costs to get the best deal if you’re like most homeowners, so we put together this article to outline what to expect before collecting quotes. The good news is that it’s not too hard to compare costs as long as you have a ballpark figure as a gauge of what’s fair and what’s not.
Why Do Some Home Repairs Cost More Than Others?
You might not appreciate it, but there’s tremendous value in caring for your home and doing it well. Some items in the home simply break down faster or need expensive replacement parts.
For instance, if you maintain your water heater like you’re supposed to, you can get by with minor tune-ups and inspections. The problem is that some homeowners never check their systems at all.
If you live in a hot, humid climate, you already know how important it is to keep your air conditioning running at top shape when temperatures rise fast. But isn’t it better to pay for new filters instead of replacing mechanical components or adding coolant to the compressor?
We think you’d agree that it’s much more affordable to stay ahead of potential failures. We mentioned the HVAC situation as a prime example to point out that some repairs will cost way more than others. The trick is to set aside funds to pay for repairs from the very beginning.
Related: A Guide to HVAC Maintenance Service
Two Rules of Thumb When Budgeting for Home Maintenance
In short, you have two quick options to get an estimate of how much repairs will cost overall. The exciting part is that you’ll get numbers pretty close to one another no matter which formula you use. The downside is that neither one will be accurate down to the penny, so that’s where things get a little more complicated.
The 1% Rule
This rule says that it’s best to save at least 1% of a home’s appraised value for yearly maintenance; however, it’s different in the real world. Saving 1% on an older home that costs $250,000 will require more than $2,500 to account for everything, especially if you live in a flood-prone region like Houston, Texas.
Square Footage Rule
The square footage rule is another way to set a baseline repair budget. You simply set aside $1 per square foot for repairs, but the catch is that it’s less accurate. The reasons are many, but they mostly boil down to the age of the home and the quality of the building materials.
Two homes can be the same size; however, the older home will always be the more expensive one to fix. Still, it’s a decent rule of thumb to get a broad estimate when you’re not sure what to save.
What do Repair Services Cost by the Hour?
If you’re a handyman, the pay is attractive; the average rate for general contractors stands at about $59 per hour. The catch is that not all repair specialists will charge solely by the hour. What about the cost of materials and labor if the job needs subcontractors? And will the contractor guarantee the work at no additional charge if things go wrong?
The answers to those questions count when pricing out home maintenance because costs can add up faster than you think. The handyman may have quoted you a specific price but handed you an invoice for another. It’s an all too common situation, and it’s frustrating. Still, you’re already ahead of the curve by reading this guide.
What Makes Handyman Repairs More Expensive?
We’ve covered pinpointing a budget number and what to expect to pay per hour for general contractor work. Now, the question is this: what else may raise the cost of hiring a specialist? The good news is that the answers are pretty straightforward.
For starters, the cost of repairs depends on how competitive the market in your community is for handypersons. If you live in a rural part of the country and there are few options to choose from, expect to pay a little more for fair work.
On the flip side, if your hometown is bustling with new home construction, there’s a decent chance repair services will be more affordable. In other words, it depends on how busy the contractors in the area are, which means seasonal fluctuations will occur.
During the scorching hot Texas summers, poorly maintained HVAC systems break down first and can cause a backlog. Widespread flood damage will do the same. An average repair specialist might go on a dozen calls per day or more, so the only natural outcome is higher charges. The situation can get even more costly when you add the rising cost of standard replacement parts, home supplies, and building materials.
Supplies and Parts
It’s no secret that the price of replacement parts and home improvement supplies is rising. Not to get too far into the weeds, but you can expect to pay more for essential home repairs one year from now. That’s not too presumptuous because the price of raw materials is skyrocketing nationwide. There’s reliable data on exactly how fast things are progressing.
In a recent article, Forbes outlined the year-over-year price increases for essential household items. Appliance prices are up 8.5%, window coverings cost 16.2% more, and flooring is 7.2% more expensive than last year.
In this light, it’s fair to anticipate higher maintenance costs over the next year as well. The reasons why prices are going up are beyond the scope of this post, but the takeaway for homeowners is that they’ll pay more either way, no matter what the cause is.
Related: Kitchen Plumbing Maintenance: What You Can Do Now to Save Money Later
Another factor is the scope of the job, meaning the complexity of the work and whether or not the handyman needs specialized knowledge. A quick example is hiring an electrician because those professionals know how to prevent shock and electrical fires. The average homeowner doesn’t know the proper safety procedures, and what may come up along the way. That’s just one way the job scope can be more significant than you assume.
Furthermore, you may find several issues arise at once because system failures can cascade into additional problems you didn’t anticipate. For instance, let’s say that your HVAC unit isn’t sending cold air through the vents and it’s pushing warm air instead.
The natural assumption is that you need to check the compressor, refrigerant lines, and every part that connects to the house. That’s the standard procedure, but what happens when the home isn’t cooling down? What else can be wrong?
If you didn’t maintain the air conditioning for years, you may have ripped and torn ducts from excessive dust and dirt. You need to change the filter regularly to avoid this issue, as you might need a full replacement when it happens.
But what happens when you climb into the attic to see whether or not you have torn ducts and notice water leaking through the roof? Fixing one problem can reveal another, so the job scope can get more extensive than expected and, thus, cost more to repair than you initially thought.
Haphazard Renovations by the Previous Owner
Not every general contractor performs the same quality of work, and home renovations are a prime example. If you do them correctly and thoroughly, renovations can add value to an older home or improve the living space. Converting an unused garage into a “man cave” falls into this category. But what if the plumber never inspected the plumbing to this hideaway? If you bought the home, you might assume that this extra room is on par when it isn’t.
Bathroom renovations are also notorious for shoddy work if you’re not careful. The walk-in shower may look fantastic, but what if the tiles were never appropriately sealed and moisture is seeping into the walls?
There’s plenty that can go haywire during home renovations, and it’s the next homeowner who pays the price for haphazard planning. It’s wise to be diligent when buying an old home and get on your hands and knees to inspect the work to get a closer look.
The new ceramic flooring in a kitchen may look fantastic, but you have to ask yourself whether or not they did everything right. For example, it’s easy to overlook touching up wall baseboards when you add carpet or new flooring.
If the work was poor, you might notice gouges and scratches in the baseboards, usually covered by paint. You need to look for things like this because they’ll only be more expensive to fix if you let them go for too long.
Quality of the Craftsmanship
The last factor is the quality of the craftsmanship, which usually correlates with the handyman’s experience and dedication to his trade. For example, if you’re replacing your storm gutters, you could do well with standard materials, but you’ll need to pay for better quality if you want the parts to last. The downside is that prices for premium materials are only rising.
If you need to get your HVAC system checked, you shouldn’t have to tell the repair specialist to inspect your ducts. That should be standard to do the job right the first time around. There are plenty of horror stories online about questionable handymen who only “do what they’re paid for” when it’s obvious something else needs fixing. Expertise counts for a lot when it comes to home maintenance and repairs.
What’s the Best Way to Manage Home Maintenance and Keep Costs Down?
Nevertheless, one way to manage various tasks is to hire a maintenance service that will create a plan with you to maintain everything in your home. They’ll do all the work, and you just enjoy your well-maintained home. If a problem does arise, this kind of company could help you find a solution with minimal effort.
Overall, the question isn’t what general handyman repairs should be costing you. It’s how can you maintain your home and work to avoid those extensive, expensive repairs, and how can you do that affordably while not investing your weekend time?
PreFix can answer that question, so contact us to learn more about pricing and what we can do for you.