Budgeting for all the ins and outs of homeownership can be overwhelming. No matter how diligently you keep up with routine maintenance, major repair needs are bound to occur. This is why having a home maintenance saving plan is crucial. It can cover the hundreds or even thousands of dollars of upkeep your home might need.
We’ve compiled this guide on average repair costs, product life spans, and more to help you decide how much money to save for home maintenance. We’ll also cover some personal finance tips and budgeting rules of thumb to help you tackle homeownership like a pro.
How Much to Budget for Home Maintenance
Home maintenance has two sides: the tasks you can plan for every year and those you can’t. The predictable ones, such as routine maintenance tasks, cost more upfront but can save you a lot in the long run. For example, projects like yearly gutter cleaning, HVAC tune-ups, and winterizing your sprinkler system keep your home in good shape and help prevent costly damage down the road.
Other maintenance needs come in the form of repairs and replacements, which can be costly, unexpected events. The unpredictable nature of these maintenance expenses means you should save money each year to cover them.
Calculate a Home Maintenance Savings Plan
So, how much money should you save in case several of your appliances or a home system happens to go down?
The Percentage Rule
One popular rule is to set aside at least 1-2% of your home’s purchase price each year for maintenance needs that arise. Based on this principle, a homeowner with a $300,000 property should save $3,000-$6,000 per year.
Some financial experts even suggest saving up to 4% of your home’s value for upkeep. Maintenance typically ends up costing around 1% of a home’s value each year, so saving that amount and then some can help you prepare for larger, unexpected costs that might pop up.
The Square Footage Rule
The percentage rule works in some situations but might not translate well in others where a turbulent real estate market inflates home values. The market might cause a home’s value to fluctuate well above or below what it’s actually worth. Homeowners in these scenarios may instead opt for the square footage rule for maintenance budgeting. This rule suggests saving one dollar for every square foot of your home. So, if you have a 2,000-square-foot house, you’ll put away $2,000 for yearly repairs and upkeep.
Today’s Homeowner’s Take on Savings Plans
The percentage and square footage rules are good places to start when tackling home maintenance savings. However, saving even 2% of your home’s value for upkeep might not be feasible for your budget.
In this case, we suggest saving at least 1% of your home’s value each year as a starting point. If you’re able to put aside extra money over time, you’ll be better equipped to handle emergencies that arise. At the end of the day, the amount you really need to save depends on your home’s condition, age, and a few other factors, which we’ll cover in the sections below.
Factors That Affect How Much You Should Save
Saving for home maintenance isn’t one-size-fits-all. Your specific budget depends on factors like location, home age, and system life spans. We’ll discuss these factors and more in the sections below.
If you live in a high-cost area, you already know your budget should be higher to include everything from food and gas to housing and recreation. Home maintenance should be no exception when it comes to your savings plan. Materials and labor fees are steeper in areas with a high cost of living, so save accordingly.
Your area’s climate can also indicate how much you should save for home maintenance. If you live in a place with unpredictable weather — hurricanes, blizzards, flooding, wildfires, or droughts — your home is at a higher risk of damage. Assess the threats your property may encounter that home insurance won’t cover and put aside some extra money.
The age of your home is another factor to consider when budgeting for maintenance. Older homes typically cost less upfront but may have a myriad of issues hiding in the woodwork. When maintaining an older home, you might encounter problems like failing appliances, deteriorating floorboards, corroding pipes, peeling paint, hazardous electrical wiring, and much more. If you own an older home, consider these potential maintenance needs and how much they could cost you down the road.
You may be tempted to skip saving if you’ve recently purchased a new home. However, first-time homebuyers should prepare for the upcoming costs their home may develop. It’s true that newer homes typically have fewer problems in the first several years. However, like any property, they aren’t immune to weather damage, owner accidents, and other surprise maintenance needs.
In short, you should still budget for maintenance even if your home is new(er). And if you don’t use the savings from your first couple of years in the house, you’ll have a sufficient financial cushion moving forward.
Life Spans of Home Systems and Appliances
Knowing the life spans of the items in your home is an important step in preparing for annual maintenance costs. Having an idea of when appliances and systems might start to sputter can help you plan (and save) ahead so there are no surprises.
The International Association of Certified Home Inspectors provides the following life expectancy estimates for standard household components:
|Item||Average Life Span|
|Toilet Tank Components||5|
Average Home Maintenance Costs
When you think of home-related costs, you probably think of a hefty down payment or pricey monthly mortgage. While these financial obligations undoubtedly take a chunk of your income, other, more sporadic costs can also put a dent in your savings, especially if you aren’t prepared.
The things that make your house a home — systems, appliances, and accessories — are bound to break down eventually and need repairs or replacements. These costs are part of home maintenance, so you should budget accordingly.
Here are some average repair and replacement costs you could incur if your home appliances and systems stop working:
|Item||Average Repair Cost||Average Replacement Cost|
|Washer & Dryer||$300||$1,500|
Don’t forget about the outside of your home when budgeting for yearly home maintenance. Things like gutters, landscaping, and the roof can be expensive should problems arise.
Your gutters are crucial for redirecting water away from your home and avoiding destructive foundation issues down the road. Routine gutter repairs generally cost between $250-$400, with higher-end repairs sitting in the $500-$600 range. Full-scale gutter replacements can cost between $1,000-$7,000, depending on the gutter material and size of your home.
Your roof is another component of your house to factor into your long-term budget. Smaller roof repairs like leaks, holes, or missing shingles could cost anywhere from $100-$1,500. Other significant repairs for damage to the roof’s trusses, eaves, or underlayment can cost up to $4,000. If you need a full repair or a new roof, you’re likely looking at $10,000 or more to cover the cost.
How To Plan for Costs
Preparation is vital when budgeting for home maintenance to give you peace of mind throughout the year. The following sections discuss ways to prepare yourself for routine maintenance needs, unexpected catastrophes, and everything in between.
Start a Home Maintenance Emergency Fund
Starting a home maintenance fund is the best way to prepare for annual costs. This can help you afford predictable maintenance needs and soften the financial blow of unexpected home repairs when they occur.
Instead of setting aside thousands of dollars at once, factor your home maintenance savings into your monthly budget. Depending on your financial capabilities, you might be able to put a few hundred dollars into your maintenance savings account each month for a more manageable preparation plan.
At the end of the year, you can put any savings you didn’t use toward next year’s maintenance emergency fund. Remember, your main goal in budgeting for home upkeep is to build a safety net for your future needs.
Keep Up With Regular Maintenance
Staying on top of your home’s routine maintenance is another way to manage costs. You’ll need help from a pro for your annual home system inspections and HVAC tune-ups. Consider hiring a contractor to come out and complete multiple tune-ups and other maintenance tasks all at once.
You can complete other maintenance tasks like gutter cleaning and vacuuming refrigerator coils on your own. Develop a monthly maintenance checklist to keep track of tasks you need to complete. Our seasonal maintenance checklist is a good place to start; it details out which tasks to complete each month to keep your home in good condition.
Buy a Home Warranty Policy
Purchasing a home warranty is another way to prepare for unexpected home maintenance needs. A home warranty isn’t the same as homeowners insurance, which covers property loss, structural damage, and liabilities. Lenders typically require homebuyers to have insurance in place before they can acquire a home.
Home warranties help cover the costs of repairs or replacements for systems and appliances that break down from normal wear and tear. These service contracts are optional and available through various home warranty companies.
With a home warranty, plan to pay a monthly premium and a small service fee each time a technician completes a repair. Otherwise, the provider covers the cost of the repairs or replacements. Home warranties are excellent for homeowners seeking a budgeting tool for unexpected maintenance.
Similarly to a personal home maintenance fund, a good home warranty policy can help you factor repair costs into your monthly budget. They generally cost between $600-$700 per year and can cover thousands of dollars in repairs. Learn more about how much a policy can help you save in our Home Warranty Plans & Pricing guide.
Planning for Peace of Mind
Now that you have a clear understanding of how much to save for home maintenance, you can get started building a financial safety net for your family. Your home is likely your biggest asset, so keeping it in working order is crucial to your happiness and comfort. With a home maintenance savings plan or solid home warranty policy, you’ll be well on your way to peace of mind for the coming years.