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Before you start planning your kitchen or bathroom remodel make sure you have all the items on this checklist under control.
The easiest way to make sure these home repairs get done is to budget for them in advance. My advice is to open a separate saving account and call it ‘Home Maintenance Account’. As you can see from the list below it is a good idea to save $3200 a year or around $250 a month to maintain your home.
Our Suggested Home Maintenance Checklist
This simple checklist will help you start to budget properly for the expense of owning a home and keeping it up to date so it can serve you and your family for many years to come. I’ve listed them in order of priority.
1. Roof: Budget $500 per year
A shingle roof has a 15 to 20 year lifespan and the average cost is anywhere from $10,000 to $20,000 depending on the size and complexity of your roof.
- You should have your roof inspected every 5 years or so and after every major storm.
- Keep trees trimmed around the roof and blow off any leaves often.
- Don’t pressure wash your roof!
2. HVAC – Budget $500 per year
Your HVAC system is responsible for almost 50% of your energy bill so it pays to keep it in tip top shape. A typical HVAC system will last for 15-20 years and cost $5000 – $7000 to replace.
- You should have it inspected and maintained yearly
- Be sure to test the cooling before it gets hot and test the heat before it gets cold.
- Change your filters monthly. You have filters at your air handler and all your air returns.
Option: Add a dehumidifier
In hot muggy climates like Tallahassee the humidity level in your home can make a big difference to you comfort. You HVAC system is designed to remove humidity from the air but adding a second dehumidifier can save you money. A whole house dehumidifier is about $1500 and could allow you to keep your AC at a higher temp, say 78 degrees instead of 74. They cost a about $6 a month to operate vs $30 a month for plug in versions that you can by at the home store.
3. HW Heater – Budget $100 per year
Your hot water heater will last 8 to 10 years and costs $1000 – $1500 to replace. If you want to get a tankless hot water heater expect to spend $3000.
- Have your hot water heater drained once a year to get rid of sediment. Draining the tank is easy.
Option: Tankless water heater
Tank-less hot water heaters are also called ‘instant hot water heaters’ but that can be misleading. Your shower won’t get hotter any sooner with a tankless hot water heater than it will with a regular hot water heater with a tank.
The advantage to tank-less is the water is heated on demand so you never run out of hot water. With a regular hot water heater you can run out of water if a lot of people are showering at the same time, depending on the size of the tank. They also take up less space and can be mounted to the outside of your home.
4. Electric service and plugs/switches – $100 a year unless you own an older home
Older homes might not have grounded plugs and have only 100 AMP service to the electric panel. If that’s the case you should consider upgrading your service to 200 amps and if your plugs are not grounded add GFCI breakers to the panel so you can use 3 wire plugs safely though out the house. Upgrading your service costs about $2500 and swapping out all the plugs in your home another $1000 or so.
There is not much maintenance needed for your electric system but you may want to change out light fixtures or add/upgrade plugs and switches occasionally.
Option: Whole House Generator – $3000 – $10,000 one time expense
Since we get regular storms that can knock out power for days a lot of people are opting to get a whole house generator. There are two ways to get add generator power to your home.
1. Whole house generator that automatically kicks on when the power goes out. These generally cost $10,000 to $12,000.
2. Install a manual Transfer switch in your electric panel. A less expensive method to to add a input plug and transfer switch to your existing electric panel. When the power goes out you would turn off all your breakers, plug in your generator and throw the transfer switch. You can then turn on any breaker you want to run those circuits on generator power. A small generator (around 3000 Kw) would be able to run your fridge and a few plugs or window AC unit. A larger generator (10,000 Kw) could run your whole home.
Adding a transfer switch costs around $1500 plus the cost of the generator which could be $800 – $2000 depending on the size. Another advantage to this method is the generator can be used for other things like a camping trip. And if you were to move the generator could go with you.
Exterior Home Maintenance – The Best Bang for Your Buck
According to Remodeling Magazine’s Cost vs Value Report renovations that improve curb appeal have the biggest impact on home value. It also keeps your neighbors happy :). Exterior home maintenance is often overlooks but next to the items on your 4 point inspection are the most important to safe and health home.
5. Pressure Washing: Budget $250 – $500 per yer
Pressure washing your home helps you paint last longer and looking good. The cost is fairly low, $250-$500 for most homes.
6. Exterior Painting: Budget $700 per year
The outside of your home will need some touch up painting every 2 or 3 years. Every 10 years or so plan to have the house completely repainted. If you keep the same color this will cost $2000 – $4000. If you change colors plan for it to cost about 50% more.
7. Exterior Lighting and Security: Budget $50 – $100 per year
At the very least you should check your exterior lights once a year and replace the bulbs, make sure motion and daylight sensor are working, and adjust them. You also may want to add lighting or replace old fixtures with modern ones as lighting technology is always improving.
There are 3 kinds of exterior lighting you want to consider:
1. General lighting, typically your porch lights and motion sensing flood flood lights.
2. Task lighting – lighting for areas where you commonly work outside, think grill area, back deck etc…
3. Accent Lighting – path lights, seasonal lights and other accents.
8. Driveway: Budget $100 per year
Aside from pressure washing every few years your driveway really only needs maintenance if it cracks or gets damaged. The biggest culprit for damaged driveways is tree roots and the best solution it to act quickly to get rid of the offending tree.
9. Front Door: Budget $100 per year
Your front door is quite literally the gateway to your home. If you’re like a lot of people then you don’t use your front door much, you enter thru the garage door, so you may not notice if it’s in need of touch ups. having your front door painted every few years is an easy way to keep the entry to your home looking sharp and inviting.
10. Basic Landscaping and Tree Maintenance: Budget $500 per year
The final step in your exterior home maintenance plan is the landscaping. The main expense is mowing the lawn, trimming hedges and edging around the driveway and planters that is done every week.
But you also want to budget for tree maintenance. You want to make sure the trees in your yard are in good health and kept trimmed to avoid catastrophic damage during a storm.
Have a tree service do an inspection every other year in February or March. You may want an entire tree removed or more likely, some limbs trimmed. It’s also a good idea to keep an eye on your neighbors trees that could threaten your home if the fell during storm.
11. Kitchen Remodels, Bath Remodels and More
Once you have the basics listed above taken care of you can start to plan the fun projects…. kitchen and bathroom remodels. Another good think to budget for is closet organization. You’d be surprised at how much more storage space you’ll have.
An average kitchen remodel will cost $60,000 – $75,000 and an average master bath around $40,000 – $55,000. Most kitchens and bathrooms need to be remodeled once every 15 years so budgeting around $5000 a year or $425 a month is reasonable if you want to pay for the remodel with cash. Of course a lot of people finance a remodel with a Home Equity Line of Credit (HELOC) or by refinancing the home. That’s not a bad way to do it but cash is always better!
Thank you for reading! We’d love to be a part of your next remodel. Check out our design services page
McManus Kitchen and Bath