Home Maintenance Costs: Tips to Budget 

by | Jun 13, 2024 | Budgeting

Home maintenance: some love puttering around the house or yard with the toolbelt on, while others are happy to call in a pro to tackle the job. Whether you’re a hardware store regular or not, home maintenance is important for every homeowner to keep their property in good working order. Preventative maintenance can also be cost-effective, mitigating the need for more expensive repairs prematurely! Let’s dig into typical home maintenance costs and how you can budget for these expenses to make upkeep more manageable. 

Annual Home Maintenance Costs

To work home maintenance costs into your personal budget, you’ll need to get a rough idea of how much money you need to allocate to home maintenance. There are a few ways to calculate an approximate number as a starting point. First, we can look at typical costs. Thumbtack reported that as of Q3 2023, the average annual home maintenance costs for a single-family home are $6,663, $2,284 for a townhouse, and $773.54 for a condo (but you’re likely paying monthly homeowner’s association dues for condos which covers much of the building maintenance). 

Chart showing the average annual cost of home care in the United States from Q4 2022 to Q4 2023 with the cost of roof repair and maintenance increasing 26.1%, heating system repair of maintenance increasing 41.8%, and tree trimming and removal increasing 6.7%
Source: Thumbtack

Another approach is to determine a budget more proportional to your home. Other experts recommend budgeting 1-4% of your home’s value for preventative repairs and maintenance, with new construction homes at the low end of 1% and homes more than 25 years old at the upper end of 4%. With the rapid rise of home values and inflation in recent years, that 4% may come in as a bit of a shock especially to homeowners who have lived in the same home for quite some time.

The 2022 American Community Survey found that the median home age in the United States is 40 years old, so many homes need a lot of maintenance work!

If you’ve owned your home for a while, you can also use your own maintenance costs from past years, and perhaps round up to account for inflation and the age of your home. 

Budgeting for Home Maintenance Costs

The next step is to lay out a budget for your home maintenance costs. You can use the above typical price points or get even more detailed figures. Here are two ways to help handle the expense: 

Budgeting with the calendar method

Many home maintenance tasks need to be tackled at least annually, if not more frequently. For those tasks, you can work it into your budget by mapping out home projects throughout the year so you can spread out the costs. Get a calendar and identify which tasks you need to hire a pro for, and which you’ll do yourself (after a trip to the home improvement store, perhaps).  

Some contractors or handyman companies offer a home maintenance plan where they assess your home, then give you a predictable cost to come and do many types of maintenance regularly. This can save money and time compared to needing to find individual companies to work on each project. 

Another perk to this approach: this helps keep you up to date on maintenance by carving out time for it. A psychology study found that you’re 33% more likely to achieve your goals just by writing them down; make it a goal to take care of your home! 

Mapping out irregular, big-ticket costs

Many home maintenance expenses and projects occur on an irregular basis, and have higher costs associated. Check out Houzz’s cost guides for various home maintenance project costs as a reference point for what you can expect to spend. Then, you can track and plan for these more major maintenance tasks based on their predictable lifespans and how old the existing item is in your home. Here is a sample of a spreadsheet as an idea, but you’ll want to make your own based on the things around your home and expected costs in your area. 

Screenshot of a sample spreadsheet listing various home maintenance tasks or items, the estimated years until the replacement is needed, the expected cost of of the replacement, determining a total amount the homeowner should save monthly to as to have the funds to cover the cost when it arises

Then comes actually setting aside money in your household budget for home maintenance. Many Milli customers love using Jars as a convenient way to save up for specific home maintenance (or improvement) expenses in advance. Some use Jars to set aside money regularly for ongoing home maintenance costs. With Jars, you’ll set a goal amount, a time frame when you would spend the money, and Milli will do the math on how much you need to save regularly to hit the goal. Along the way, you’ll earn our competitive Annual Percentage Yield to grow your savings! 

DIY to Save Money on Home Maintenance

To save money on anything, doing it yourself can keep the costs down. When it comes to home maintenance, there are many tasks you can safely do yourself with basic tools or supplies.

First, one of the easiest and lowest-cost home maintenance tasks you can do yourself is keeping things clean! This keeps things around your home in better shape and working more efficiently. You can mitigate how often you need to take on more costly replacement projects. Simple tasks like cleaning refrigerator coils, unclogging dishwasher spray arms, and regularly cleaning your oven can extend the lifespan of your appliances. Keeping up with cleaning things like your floors and showers can also prevent buildup from getting out of hand to the point where you need a pro to replace. (If you need the occasional cleaning professional to help with the deep cleaning, that can still be more cost-effective.)

There are lots of other minor maintenance or repair tasks that many homeowners find feasible to DIY. Here are some examples: 

  • Replacing HVAC filters 
  • Painting 
  • Removing water stains 
  • Fixing (or replacing) leaky faucets 
  • Home winterizing 
  • Adding insulation 
  • Cleaning gutters (perhaps just from the first floor) 
  • Caulking and sealing windows, doors, plumbing 
  • Yardwork – planting, pressure washing 
  • Refinishing hardwood floors 
  • Removing scratches or dents in wood, walls, and more 

There are tons of guides and videos on the internet to help walk you through home repair tasks. The This Old House YouTube channel is a great resource for learning how to do home projects – or learning about projects that you may feel are a better fit to leave to the professionals.

When you’re working around your home, make sure to use proper safety equipment for the task, such as eye protection, masks, gloves, proper footwear, ear plugs, or knee pads. There are some tasks you should leave to the professionals for safety and for cost-effectiveness. Know your physical limits (and how they change over time) and stick to them!

If there are tasks that don’t quite call for a pro but are beyond your comfort or physical ability level, consider reaching out to your community about swapping services. Perhaps the neighbor down the street can get on a ladder and you can babysit for their date night. Win-win! If you need something same-day, Taskrabbit is another helpful source to find folks who can help around your home. 

Conclusion

Take pride in your home by taking care of it proactively! Budgeting ahead for home maintenance can help make the costs more predictable, and more predictable expenses feel more manageable. If you enjoy some parts of home maintenance like gardening or little repairs, you can put in some sweat equity and save money with DIY efforts. Professional services are also well worth it for many areas of your home, providing better quality results and saving you from spending your whole weekend at the hardware store! 

If you’re looking for a bank to save up for home maintenance costs and repairs, check out Milli! Our automatic saving features can help you stay on track for ongoing or upcoming expenses. Our competitive Annual Percentage Yield helps you build upon your savings, helping you reach your goals faster. Download Milli from the App Store or Google Play and start saving now! 

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