Chad Robertson MediaPaying for major home repairs, like a leaky roof or a broken water heater, is definitely not the exciting part of home ownership. If you’re going to spend the money, you’d probably rather do something fun, like improving your outdoor space or remodeling your kitchen.
Unfortunately, the less sexy projects are also often the most critical to complete – and quick – but many owners have let them down due to financial issues. According to a recent survey, 43% of homeowners have delayed improving or maintaining their home because of inflation. With home construction costs up 19%, homeowners are seeing higher costs for some planned (and unplanned) projects.
While it makes sense to delay big and expensive projects, it could actually cost you more in the long run. For example, hiring a professional to fix a water leak early on will likely be less expensive than fixing and replacing things damaged by flooding or mold.
So you definitely shouldn’t put off major repairs in favor of cosmetic upgrades, and if you have limited funds, you may need to prioritize these repairs over other unrelated expenses. Depending on the repair, you can break the project down into smaller tasks that you can accomplish over time. You can also seek out resources such as home equity loans or home equity lines of credit for urgent issues if you don’t have the cash.
How to Prioritize Home Repair Projects
It’s probably obvious, but structural issues and issues with critical systems like electrical, gas, and plumbing that could cause major damage should be your top priority. These are often emergencies and usually require professional help.
Here are some signs you should not ignore:
- Animated points of sale
- Frequent circuit breaker tripping
- Flickering power (like lights or appliances)
- Smells of gas or burning
- Water leaks (stains, wet spots, warping)
- Missing shingles and damaged gutters
Foundation and framing problems, as well as leaky windows and doors, also usually require quick (and expensive) repairs.
Let’s say you don’t have any major repairs to do (as far as you know) and want to invest in upgrades or cosmetic changes. Be careful if you don’t have money in an emergency fund or a way to pay for surprise repairs. It would be a shame to spend all your money on a bathroom remodel only to find your roof needs replacing. When prioritizing upgrades, you’ll want to consider both your current quality of life, as good as potential return on investment if you plan to sell.
Finally, prevention can provide protection when it comes to home maintenance. Use a checklist and add tasks and service appointments to your calendar to catch problems earlier.