There’s a lot more to being a homeowner besides signing the mortgage paperwork and moving in. Although home ownership gives you more autonomy than renting or leasing an apartment or house, new roles emerge that you should be aware of.
There’s no landlord to replace a broken water heater or make emergency repairs to your heating system January, not when you own the house. Once you sign on the dotted line, you take the reins as the sole responsible party.
Are you ready to be a homeowner? Find out by taking a look at some of the most common maintenance and repairs you'll assume responsibility for when you become a homeowner. You've got to be ready to devote a lot of your free time (one day a month, and more if you've got a big lawn to mow) to completing the projects yourself, or the budget to hire home professionals like a handyman, to do the work for you.
Exterior Maintenance and Repairs for Homeowners
Some exterior home maintenance projects are relatively minor, but that doesn’t mean you have to manage them alone. Maybe you don’t want to spend one weekend a year on a ladder, or the idea of mowing the lawn every Saturday doesn’t sound like the best use of your time. You might want to tackle these jobs, but you can also hire them out. Some of the most common homeowner chores that people delegate include:
- Weekly lawn mowing, weeding flower beds and regular landscaping.
- Seasonal landscaping with new mulch, flowers and replacing plants that didn't survive over the winter.
- Cleaning your home's exterior including windows annually, and painting siding and trim every 5 to 8 years.
- Staining and sealing decks, porches and other outdoor wood like fencing.
- Maintenance of pools, wells and septic systems.
Other exterior projects are major jobs best left for the pros. Your new home won’t require these repairs often. But when they're necessary, they require a significant investment of time and money. A few of the most common include:
- Roof replacement after 15 years or more, depending on the roofing materials and wear and tear from the weather.
- Siding replacement varies based on materials (learn more about the average life of siding and other exterior home features).
- Window or door replacement starting around 20 years or later, depending on materials.
- Major landscaping installation and replacing wood decks with an average life of 20 years.
Interior Homeowner Maintenance and Repairs
The inside of your home needs the same level of attention as the outside. While regular cleaning and care are probably on your list of things to do, you might want help managing some of them. (Read: First-Time Home Buyer Tips) The minor interior responsibilities include:
- Monthly deep cleaning and care of home appliances, large and small.
- Consistent floor care to extend product life and annual cleaning of carpeting.
- Filling small nail holes and other wall damage as needed
- New wall and trim paint every 5 to 10 years, or whenever you decide it's time for some new colors.
- Handling minor plumbing issues such as clogged drains and faucet drips as they arise.
- Replacing filters monthly and vacuuming ducts annually.
Larger-scale interior jobs are probably best left to professionals, because of the labor involved and to help remove risk of injury. These include:
- Annual heat and air conditioning system maintenance.
- Electrical upgrades to meet new code regulations, as necessary.
- Plumbing upgrades for more enjoyment, or to address leaks or other plumbing issues.
- Adding new or replacing insulation as needed, to save energy and lower utility bills.
- Installing new flooring and lighting to update the look of your home's interior.
Homeowner Financial Obligations
Homeowner responsibilities extend beyond your house and mortgage. You should plan for other expenses like:
- Annual property tax payments as required by law.
- Homeowner’s insurance to protect your property as required by the mortgage lender.
- Community or home owner association dues, which may be paid annually, quarterly, or monthly.
You might think finding the right home and securing a good mortgage rate are the hardest parts of home ownership. But there’s a lot more to owning a home than cleaning, decorating, and mowing the lawn.
If the unvarnished realities of home maintenance add up to more than you thought, maybe it’s not quite time for you to make that leap. But if you’re ready to commit 4 to 8 hours each month to maintaining your home, and are able to handle the cost of unexpected repairs, you might very well be ready to buy a home of your own.
Have you recently purchased a new home, or are you thinking about it? What advice can you offer other readers to help prepare them for one of the biggest investments in life? We’d love to hear!