My neighbor, who is often drenched in sweat while doing yard projects, referred to his house as a “money pit” when discussing deck restoration. Now…I wouldn’t go that far, but there are a lot of maintenance costs involved with owning a home, both expected and unexpected. Here’s what we’ve paid in the year since owning our first “real” house. (We previously lived in a townhome and paid outrageous HOA fees to maintain everything in the neighborhood except our actual home.)
Air Condition: Towards the end of the winter it was like 10 degrees outside and our HVAC system was struggling to keep the house warm. Whatever. We just turned on the fireplace. Spring arrived and the AC wouldn’t blow cool air. My solution was to hang out in the basement where it’s cold or spend more time at Barnes & Noble to “borrow” their cool air. But my wife reminded me 27 times to have a technician look at the AC unit. I called the company who installed the system 10 years ago and made an appointment. Yelp told me they’re ripoff artists. I canceled the appointment and figured I’d give the AC time to see if the system could regenerate itself. My wife went ahead and made an appointment with an HVAC repair company that had good reviews. The technician sealed a hole in the compressor, and the system should last us “another 2 to 3 years.” It’s now hot outside but cold inside at a cost of $350.
Electrical Work: Some of our upstairs outlets stopped working, and our lights would go off and on when they felt like it. I unscrewed a few outlets and everything looked fine, according to what YouTube taught me. Turns out we had a wiring problem. An electrician fixed the problem for about $300. He was in top physical condition and made strong eye contact with my wife. Just fix the problem and be on your way, bro. But thanks!
Carpet and Floors: I imagine the person who lived in our home before us was a nice person, but maybe not because she had turquoise, green, and red carpet throughout the house. We replaced the downstairs carpet with bamboo floors and had Beyoncé brown carpet installed upstairs. The floors will last a lifetime, or at least I tell myself that to justify the expense. As for the carpet, I don’t mind eating off the floor if I drop something, so it’s nice to have carpet that only we’ve stepped on. Although carpet and floors are not technically a maintenance expense, I included it because I needed to get rid of that colorful mess to maintain my inner peace. Total cost: Man…about $11,000.
Landscaping: The California environmentalist in me insisted in buying all electronic lawn gear (mower and trimmer), which set us back $400. Then we paid for lawn chemicals to get rid of the brown patches; that was another $200. Add another $80 to re-mulch the front and backyard, plus a couple-few dollars for fish to put in our tiny pond, and we’re at a total of $700 to compete with our neighbors in the 2018 Lawn Olympics.
Paint and More Paint: Our new-to-us home was built in 1997, a time when “Return Of The Mack” and wood decor was popular. We painted the trim and are about halfway done with painting the kitchen cabinets, having spent around $400 to somewhat complete the projects. Not bad, but there’s more painting to do upstairs. Bonus: My brother-in-law is a climber and didn’t mind going two stories high to repaint the great room.
We’re a year in and have so far managed to avoid my big fears of having to buy a new roof or HVAC system, for now. Of course there are more projects to complete (ex: a bathroom remodel), but we’ll get to those when the money’s extra right. Still, regardless of our homeowner expenses, renting a similar home would cost twice our monthly mortgage payment, and the owner would have kicked us out because our kids are loud and ruthless. By owning, we’re accruing equity and in the nearish future the house will be paid off, leaving us with only taxes and of course…eternal maintenance costs.