Home repairs are critical.
A friend of mine who has been a stay at home mom for two decades, was lamenting about the work that she needed done on her home, but could not afford. She said, “my home is now starting to look bad and that’s not what I want.”
The roof needs work, her kitchen floor needs redoing as well as some of the walls. And she always wanted to have a little deck built on the side of the house. She made the choice of having less cash flow by staying home with her children. Her youngest just turned 13 but returning to the workforce is not of interest to her as she helps her oldest son with his son, who is just 3. So the home repair will continue to wait and as she waits, the repair situation will become increasingly more expensive to do as the conditions deteriorate.
Most people have invested their lifetime income into their home. Something that you’ve made this kind of investment in needs to be well-maintained. You have to continue “reinvesting.” The longer you wait to repair something, the worse it will get and the more it will cost to repair. Waiting is not an option.
Set Aside Money for Maintenance
Everyone has a budget that they work with. Whether it’s written down or not, scheduled or not, you have income and you have expenses. Add home maintenance as an expense line in your budget. Decide how much you can reasonably put aside and start saving. They key is to accept that this money is not to be touched for anything but home repairs.
That’s the challenge a lot of people will have. Holding on to money in a savings account or in a jar and not touching it! You have to develop a resolve that no matter what else happens, this money is slated for home repairs and nothing else. This is essential because you don’t want, for example, your water heater to burst and not be able to replace it immediately.
If you are not prepared for emergency repairs, then all the drama gets created….all the emotion, doubt, frustration, anger, etc. You will run through your mental list of “who can I borrow money from?” in order to take care of these kinds of repairs. Don’t put yourself, your family and your friends through that. Don’t put yourself through that. Take the necessary steps to set aside money and then don’t touch it.
Find Reputable Repair People
Where do you start? Ask your family; ask your friends, neighbors, co-workers, even local churches and businesses. People who have actually used contractors and other repair people are the best source of references. Good repair people are concerned about their reputation and will do excellent work. Their business is largely supported by referrals so they will do their best. They know that if they don’t do a good job, the person that hired them is going to complain about what they did and how they did it. So, you can probably trust referrals from others.
Licensed or Unlicensed?
Contractors and even handymen who have a license and insurance are safer to use than those that don’t. If you hire someone to work on your property and they get injured, they can easily make you responsible for that injury. So, you want to make sure that you are working with someone who is a registered business and has their own insurance. This protects you and your assets.
What will the repair person do?
A good repair person is going to listen to your explanation of the problem, physically look at it and then put together an estimated quote for you. That quote should include the cost of the materials, the cost of their labor and how much time to repair work or construction will take. If you agree, then it becomes a document that you both sign and that you get a copy of. This is a legal, binding agreement.
Make sure that this document covers the “what if” factors. For instance, if you are having a roof repaired that has been in need of repair for fifteen years, the “what if” would include if they start to strip away the shingles and the wood and find rotted beams underneath. Wood gets damaged from water over long periods of time. A really good contractor may poke an prod and may be able to determine if there is damage underneath or beyond the eyesight, but they can’t always. And, they should be the one to bring this up.
Will the work have to be inspected by a city official?
Some specific types of work has to be inspected by your town’s license and inspections people. If you are adding on to your home, certain types of electrical and duct work, changing from propane to gas, installing pipelines or chimneys, etc., are required to be inspected. Your specific city or town has guidelines as to what kind of work requires that a permit be pulled and inspected upon completion. A good contractor knows what rules apply very clearly and will take the necessary steps to pull the permit and have inspections done accordingly.
Learn to ask questions
A good contractor is going to explain everything in great detail. They will take the time to make sure you understand everything that is involved, include potential “what if’s.” But, if they don’t, make sure you’ve done your research. The internet is a great tool and there are literally thousands of videos on youtube demonstrating how to repair this or that. Do your own research so that you are coming from a standpoint of understanding of what is involved and ask questions.
Do it yourself?
We mentioned the thousands of youtube videos. If you’ve got the courage to take on what you consider to be a challenge, why not? Plumbing is really a simple system of water flow through pipes. Walls are made of wood studs and sheet rock. Patching walls with joint compound is a very simple thing to do. Most of us can get a roller, a paint tray and paint our own walls. Changing a garbage disposal is simply a matter of unscrewing the old one off and screwing on the new one.
Doing your own electrical work is not recommended. A licensed electrician should always be used. Electricity kills and is not a good idea for a novice.
Your home is an investment
Taking good care of your home is a priority. A home, for most people, is a lifetime investment. You want it always to be solid and in good repair. It has value. Keeping it well maintained is necessary not just so you can live in comfort, but also in case you decide to sell it. Well maintained homes sell much faster than those that are in need of repair. The other consideration is that you may want to leave the home for your children. We want our children to have the best and leaving them the family home in good condition will be a blessing for them.