In many cases, first-time homebuyers significantly underestimate the real cost of home ownership. While owning a home has financial advantages, home maintenance is often pretty expensive. Additionally, it’s easy to overlook the hidden costs of home ownership when you’ve never owned a property before.
As a result, it’s wise to take a look at the cost of home ownership. Here’s what you need to know about the average maintenance cost for a house, as well as tips to help you estimate your expenses and a handy checklist for maintenance needs.
Average Maintenance Cost for a House
On average, home maintenance spending during 2021 was $3,018, according to Angi. That average includes routine tasks people handle every year and costs associated with one-off projects.
Knowing whether that figure applies to you is a bit tricky when it comes to the average home maintenance costs per year. Multiple factors play into the equation, including property size, location, features, and more. As a result, two homeowners can face drastically different home maintenance bills.
As a result, some experts recommend using a specific approach to calculate your expenses. As a rule of thumb, you can create a range by calculating 1 percent and 4 percent of your home’s value to determine your potential annual home maintenance expenses.
By going with the higher number – and setting that money aside – you can create a buffer for those times when you need to tackle big projects that only come up every five, ten, or 20 years. For example, roof replacements don’t happen yearly, but they are sometimes necessary. With a buffer, you can shoulder the cost without turning to debt.
For budgeting purposes, it’s wise to calculate your house maintenance cost per month. Take your annual figure and divide it by 12. That way, you know how much to set aside monthly to stay on top of maintenance costs.
How to Estimate the Maintenance Costs of Owning a Home
While the figures above can help you see how much you might need to spend to maintain your home, the actual price will vary based on your property. Every house is different, so you may face costs that others don’t encounter.
Additionally, many of the unexpected costs when buying a house aren’t surprises because the need to do the work isn’t unpredictable if you have experience with homeownership. Instead, they’re simply expenses that newer homeowners aren’t aware of until they need to tackle the work.
As a result, it’s wise to review all of your home maintenance needs, including monthly, seasonal, annual, and longer-term requirements. Then, research the average cost in your area for each of those tasks, allowing you to get a solid figure.
You can also work toward reasonable figures by tracking your home maintenance spending. While costs do generally rise over time, knowing how much you spend and how that compares to the value of your home at the time can give you insights, making it easier to budget long-term.
Finally, if you can’t find accurate figures for the average monthly maintenance cost for a house in your area, consider getting some free quotes from local service providers. Many businesses will provide estimates free of charge, giving you current numbers that reflect prices in your area that you can use for ongoing planning.
Annual Home Maintenance Checklist
In some cases, having a home maintenance checklist available can help you track your various responsibilities with greater ease. If you want to make sure any house monthly expenses don’t catch you by surprise, here is a list of tasks you may need to tackle, divided up based on the season.
- Inspect roof and siding
- Hire an arborist to inspect, trim, and manage your trees
- Reseed your lawn
- Repair or replace worn-out lawnmowers
- Handle driveway or walkway cracks
- Inspect your chimney
- Clean your gutters
- Tackle exterior painting
- Wash your home’s exterior
- Prepare your HVAC for the summer heat
- Clean and repair decks, porches, and patios
- Get your pool inspected
- Have your plumbing checked
- Check your sump pump
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Manage your garden and yard
- Water plants twice a week
- Check your sprinkler system
- Maintain your pool
- Reverse the direction of ceiling fans
- Clean air conditioning filters monthly
- Replace worn weather stripping on windows and doors
- Treat your home for pests
- Inspect well
- Rake leaves
- Keep gutters clear
- Winterize your sprinkler system
- Stock up on firewood
- Close your pool for the winter
- Service your furnace
- Clean your HVAC ductwork
- Have boilers inspected
- Clean chimneys
- Clean out dryer vents
- Handle interior painting
- Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- Get, repair, or replace tools for dealing with snow
- Stock up on ice melt or sidewalk salt
- Inspect gutters for ice dams regularly
- Clean heating system filters monthly
- Shut off and drain outdoor faucets
- Insulate plumbing pipes
- Check attic insulation
- Clean refrigerator coils
- Prepare for winter storms
Other Home Maintenance Projects to Prepare For
As mentioned previously, not all home maintenance tasks get handled every year. Many projects are only necessary every three, five, ten, or 20+ years.
Often, these are the expenses that catch newer homeowners off-guard. Along with being infrequent, they can be quite costly, making them burdensome to handle if you don’t have a nest egg to cover the cost of the work.
Fortunately, these projects aren’t inherently unpredictable. Here is a checklist of home maintenance projects you’ll need to tackle on occasion, as well as how often they usually occur:
- Septic system inspection – 2 or 3 years
- Roof replacement – 15 to 75 years, depending on material
- Electrical inspection – 3 to 5 years
- Window replacement – 15 to 30 years, depending on quality and materials
- Plumbing inspection – 1 to 2 years
- Replace attic insulation – 15 to 80 years, depending on type and quality
- Major appliance replacement – about every 10 to 20 years
The Hidden Costs of Homeownership
When it comes to the additional costs of buying a house, there are many that aspiring homeowners may overlook. One of the biggest is property taxes, which typically cost several thousands of dollars annually and can change on a yearly basis.
Typically, you’ll get a property tax statement each year outlining exactly what you’ll need to pay. The cost is divided into two payments, spaced six months apart. Paying this bill is essential, as failing to do some can have financial and legal consequences.
Other monthly bills for owning a home that aren’t always obvious are HOA or condo dues. These costs can vary dramatically from one HOA or condo association to the next. Additionally, while many are paid monthly, some are due quarterly or annually. If you’re buying a property, make sure to ask about any dues so that you can prepare.
Ultimately, the average home repair cost per year is usually measured in thousands. Add that to other hidden costs of homeownership, and it’s easy to see why having a plan to handle the expenses is a must.