Buying your first home in Myrtle Beach means finally gaining the freedom to decorate, remodel, and landscape to your heart’s content. Of course, it also means you’re now responsible for anything and everything that goes wrong with your house. The cost of upkeep catches many first-time homeowners off guard. When you’re accustomed to simply calling the landlord for a fix, the first repair bill over $1,000 comes as a pretty big shock.
Affording home repairs is stressful if you’re not prepared. You don’t want to delay a fix and let the problem grow bigger, but you don’t want to put it on a credit card and pay high interest rates either. This guide explains how first-time homeowners can plan ahead for home repairs and what to do when a major repair catches you by surprise.
Working with Contractors
How can you be sure you’re not getting ripped off when hiring a contractor? It’s a fair question — contractor scams do exist and first-time homeowners are an enticing target. However, a lack of experience in vetting contractors doesn’t have to lead to overpaying for shoddy work.
Before contacting contractors, ask for referrals from friends and neighbors and check online to find highly rated contractors in your area. Once you have a list, call contractors and ask for references and other pertinent information. Choose two or three contractors you’re interested in and request estimates. You’ll need to provide detailed project information to get accurate quotes. Be sure to get everything in writing and consider not just price but also workmanship and reputation when selecting a contractor.
Always check what your contract says about clean-up. Some contractors include clean-up in the quoted price, whereas others charge a separate fee for this service. Even with clean-up included, there’s bound to be dust left behind, so consider hiring a professional cleaning crew to come in and deep clean after the project is complete.
Planning for Major Home Repairs
Luckily, most major home repairs are predictable. Roofs, HVAC systems, and water heaters all have typical lifespans. As systems get older, you can generally expect more problems.
These are some of the major home repairs homeowners should plan for:
- Roofing: 15-50 years; $5,000-$14,000
- Central air conditioning: 12-18 years, $500-$4,000
- Furnace: 13-20 years; $2,500-$6,000
- Siding: 15-50 years; $6,000-$22,000
Remember, these are only estimates; repair costs vary depending on the size of your home and the type of materials you choose.
You may want to include remodeling costs in your repair fund. While remodeling isn’t strictly necessary, most homeowners want to update over the years. Remodeling projects can get costly — bathroom remodels in Myrtle Beach average between $2,600 and $8,200 — and budgeting for them takes the stress out of a big remodeling bill.
Paying for Major Home Repairs
The best way to pay for major repairs is to start saving money. Begin a home repair fund when you buy a house, and if possible, contribute to it monthly. If saving isn’t your strong suit, set up an automatic monthly transfer to a high-yield savings account.
Unfortunately, repairs don’t always happen when we expect. If your home needs a major repair and you can’t pay cash, you need another way to finance the work without relying on high-interest credit cards. With enough equity in your home, you can do a cash out refinance with an APR under 5 percent. If that’s not possible, a personal loan may be your best option to finance needed repairs.
If you don’t plan for them, major home repairs could leave you longing for the days of responsibility-free renting. However, the high cost of home repairs shouldn’t turn your homeownership dream into a nightmare. By knowing what to expect from your home and saving accordingly, you turn major repairs into a predictable, manageable aspect of homeownership.
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