Thanks to Canada’s massive real estate bubble, more and more people are comfortable renting. This is a good thing.
There are a number of advantages to renting. It usually ends up being cheaper, since a renter doesn’t have to worry about maintenance, house insurance, and paying back a mortgage. A renter also has greater flexibility versus a homeowner, which is kinda a big deal in 2016. And renters won’t lose a big bunch of money if the value of Toronto real estate goes down. We’re already seeing Vancouver’s market collapse.
For many renters, home maintenance is the big expense they’re hoping to avoid. The general rule of thumb is home maintenance costs about 1% of the value of the house per year. It doesn’t all happen at once, but eventually you’ll end up spending that much.
I’ve also seen guides that say you’ll spend up to $10,000 per year in house maintenance. That’s not for a mansion either; it’s for a regular house in suburbia.
Using a percentage of value is a really dumb way to estimate home maintenance, at least in my opinion. My house is worth $195,000. The nicest house on my block just sold for $360,000. Will that house magically pay 2x as much for a new fridge, stove, hot water tank, or furnace? Not likely.
If there’s one thing Financial Uproar is all about, it’s shattering rules of thumb. I think many renters have gone too far the other way, and overestimate the value of maintaining a home.
Here are four ways to cut down on your home maintenance costs.
Don’t buy something with problems
I’m amazed how many people are willing to buy a house that has very obvious issues. Especially people who don’t know how to fix anything.
There’s an easy solution to this. Don’t buy stuff with obvious issues.
You don’t need to be a contractor to figure out a lot of this stuff. If the shingles are starting to curl, your house needs a new roof. If the siding looks like ass, it’s either going to need a coat of paint or to be redone. And so on. Most of this stuff is pretty simple.
Most people overestimate the amount of work they’re capable of doing. I think at least 50% of common household jobs can be done by someone with access to Youtube and a decent tool kit. But that doesn’t mean you’re going to do them.
Extend this to look for potential problems, too. A patio won’t need to be replaced as often as a deck, for example.
No cosmetic fixes
Many people spend large amounts of money on their homes replacing perfectly good things that don’t need to be replaced. They’re just dated.
The perfect example of this is the pink bathtub in my parents’ 1960s house. That thing is uglier than Amy Schumer’s face, but they have yet to replace it. And why would they? It still holds water. It doesn’t leak. The tiling around it is barely fading. That thing will be around long after we all die.
It’s probably the only pink tub left in the whole neighborhood. Everyone else has ripped out their tubs and replaced them with something newer, sexier, and less embarrassing when their friends come over.
It’s the same thing with kitchens, paint on the walls, flooring, and a million other things. It’s all getting replaced before it’s broken. Avoid that and you’ll cut down maintenance costs significantly.
Make long-term investments
My old house had a metal roof. I loved that thing. The company that installed the roof told me the shingles came with a 100 year warranty.
My current house has a nice new roof, because we followed rule number one when we bought it. But we have neighbors who are looking to get a new roof. They have two options. They can either shell out $6,000 for a new asphalt roof, or they can spend $10,000 and get a metal one put on.
If they plan to only live in the house another 15 or 20 years, the cheaper option would probably be best. But if it’s a long-term investment, the metal roof will cost far less per year of ownership, even if it costs more today.
Fridges can cost anywhere from $500 to $5,000, or even more. And get they all really just do the same thing. They keep your food chilly.
Fancy appliances don’t just cost more. They have more things that can break. I’m convinced this leads to a shorter life.
Think about it this way. Somebody buys a fancy washer that has all sorts of weird settings. One of the settings breaks. Instead of doing without, they go out and buy a new washer. The old one gets dumped to the curb, where it eventually becomes a home for raccoons.
You can buy 10 $500 fridges for the same price as a $5,000 one. Sure, it’s an extreme example, but the point stands. It’s way cheaper over the long-term to replace appliances with cheaper models.