When I bought my house about 12 years ago, I knew my expenses would far exceed the amount I put into my mortgage each month. Even though I was buying a new home, I knew that over time, repairs would eat up some of my income.
Over the years I have spent thousands of dollars on home repairs. But those bills could have been much worse. Here’s a clever thing I’ve done to keep my costs to a minimum.
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It’s about being prepared
One big reason so many homeowners end up spending a small fortune on repairs is that those repairs are often incurred in an emergency. If you have a water leak, a problem with your heating system, or any other problem that directly affects the normal functioning of your home, you generally have no choice but to fix it right away. What often happens in this situation is that you go with the first contractor who can fix the problem, even if that contractor is not the most cost-effective. And so 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 problems like leaks and system failures even when those things didn’t happen. We’ve also gathered information on how much these different companies charge just to make a service call (there’s usually a base fee only for a professional to come to your home, and that’s on top of the cost of your actual repairs).
After collecting the cost data, we interviewed neighbors and friends in the area to see if any of them had used the companies we spoke to. We wanted to make sure they had a good experience. As soon as we had at least one positive confirmation in each repair category, we narrowed down our list of companies and saved them in a common table. And now, when home repairs are indeed on strike and cannot be postponed, we know which contractor will charge us the least money in an emergency without compromising quality.
For example, when we researched heating and cooling experts, we found a company that waived the service fees for customers with a prepaid maintenance contract. Since we had to maintain our systems every year, it made sense to sign this contract.
On the other hand, there really is no preventive maintenance contract for plumbing. But after our research we know which plumber in our area costs the least in an emergency and whom we would call if necessary.
Do your research
When you own a home, you have to accept the fact that there will eventually be emergency home repairs. And the better prepared you are, the better.
If you’re new to your neighborhood and aren’t sure where to start your research, getting recommendations from neighbors is a good choice. Also, check to see if your city has a social media page where residents share this type of information. And of course, a simple Google search will take you to a list of contractors nearby based on your zip code.
You may find that you can’t help but pay for home repairs. But you can do a little legwork upfront to pay a little less for it.