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Making the decision to buy a home can be a smart move, financially; rather than paying rent, you’re building equity in a property of your own. But homeownership also comes with many expenses, which makes budgeting as a homeowner an important priority. Home maintenance costs can add up quickly, but you can improve your skills as a homeowner and tackle some of those maintenance projects yourself to save money.
Become a Home Hacker
More significant home maintenance or repair projects may be overwhelming at first, but there are plenty of home hacks that you can easily perform. Many home hacks require common materials that you’ll already have around the house, and learning various hacks can make home maintenance easier.
For instance, if you ever need to remove a screw that’s been stripped, you can place a rubber band between the screw and your drill bit or screwdriver. This hack creates just the right amount of tension to keep the bit or screwdriver head from slipping, allowing you to remove the screw.
You can also fix small scratches on wood furniture or wood floors with toothpaste. Use just a bit of toothpaste and a rag to buff out scratches, rubbing in the direction of the wood’s grain. Wipe off the toothpaste and follow up with a furniture or floor polish.
There are also plenty of hacks to help you keep your home clean, like using a squeegee to quickly remove pet hair from your furniture or your carpeting. You can also use a magazine rack to organize your pot and pan lids for a clean cupboard where you can easily access what you need.
Develop Your DIY Skills
Calling a maintenance or repair professional out every time something goes wrong in your home can quickly get expensive. If you can improve your skills as a homeowner and do some basic maintenance tasks yourself, you’ll save money and feel accomplished and empowered. Your home will require certain maintenance tasks, like cleaning and maintaining your furnace on a yearly basis. Once you learn how to do these tasks, you can handle the maintenance every year moving forward.
This doesn’t mean that you have to tackle every project that you encounter. In fact, some projects, such as those involving electricity or serious plumbing issues, are best left to the experts. But other projects are more manageable and can be handled by most homeowners.
If you know of an upcoming project that you’ll want to tackle, start by doing plenty of research. There are many homeowner and home repair websites and videos available today which can teach you the basics of maintenance tasks like gutter cleaning, refinishing a wood floor, air conditioner maintenance, and more. These resources can give you a good background on what you may face if you take on a particular project.
Your local community can also be a valuable resource. Some stores, such as the Home Depot and even your local hardware store, may offer workshops and seminars to teach homeowners new skills. If you have a friend or neighbor who is DIY-savvy, they may be willing to help you through your project. You can also volunteer for Habitat for Humanity to get some hands-on construction experience.
Prepare for Potential Problems
Good home maintenance can help to prevent problems from occurring, reducing repair costs. This is particularly important if you live in an area with harsh, cold winters, which can take a toll on your home’s heating system. Prepare for winter ahead of time by testing and cleaning your heating system, storing away seasonal outdoor items, and stocking up on wintertime essentials like snow shovels and salt.
You should also pressure wash the outside of your home as a preventative measure. Doing this will keep outside elements such as mold and grime from decaying and destroying the paint and wood protecting your home, which will keep you from having to repaint as often or repair rotting wood and fixtures.
If you’re planning to go away on vacation, you’ll need to still maintain your home even when you’re away. A home monitoring system can make it easier to remotely keep an eye on your property, and you may want to hire a neighbor or friend to stop in and check on your home for an added layer of protection.
Know When to Get Professional Help
Some projects are too much to handle, either requiring advanced skills and tools or demanding too much of your time to be practical. In these cases, it’s important to recognize that a project is beyond your capabilities and to know how to find the right help.
If the project requires more skill than you have, a handyman may be able to help you at a lower cost than a professional, like a plumber, would charge. To find a great handyman, ask the staff at your local hardware store about who they would recommend. Your other friends who are homeowners may also have trusted handymen who they would recommend. Always ask for and check references on anyone you’re considering hiring, and make sure that the handyman is insured.
For a larger project where you need a professional roofer, plumber, electrician, or other service provider, a Google search can help you identify professionals in your area. You may also want to check Houzz, which can help you find and compare local service providers.
With time and research, you can improve your skills as a homeowner and save money on maintenance costs. Knowing that you won’t have to call out a professional every time your home needs maintenance or a basic repair, you’ll be more independent and accomplished, too.