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Creating a home repair and maintenance budget

By Shelley Sines

January 2019

You just purchased your first home, so the last thing you probably want to think about is saving up for the maintenance and repairs it’ll inevitably need. But, as any seasoned homeowner will tell you, this should really be one of the very first things you plan for. And if you’re just starting to look for a house, even better – understanding how much you might need to budget for home repair and maintenance can help you get a more accurate cost of what it means to be a homeowner.

The costs of owning a home are more than just your down payment or monthly mortgage payment. Regular home repair and maintenance is a must if you want to protect your investment. There’s also the cost of unexpected surprises, which can sometimes be in the thousands of dollars – say, if your furnace goes in the middle of winter.

So how, exactly, do you budget for home repairs and maintenance? While it’s impossible to predict exactly how much money you’ll need, here are some tips to get you started.

Continue to build your savings

According to conventional wisdom, a homeowner should save at least 1-3% of the home’s purchase price each year for regular maintenance and repairs. For example, if you purchased your home for $250,000, you should save at least $2,500 per year, or a little over $200/month. Consider setting this money aside in its own separate bank account so you only tap into it when needed.

Prioritize repairs and maintenance. What’s most important?

If you know you’ll need a new roof soon, get an estimate for the work ASAP and start planning for that expense. You may need to wait on minor or less urgent maintenance if a costly or surprise home repair is necessary.

DIY maintenance and repairs

Can you shovel snow and mow the lawn yourself? Are you willing to watch YouTube tutorials to learn how to fix your toilet? Save money on the tasks you can do, so you can use your cash reserves for the ones you can’t.

Don’t forget to account for operational expenses in your budget

Identify the regular maintenance tasks you’ll need to perform each year and create a budget for these items (there’s a handy list here). Don’t forget to budget for things like water, electricity, gas, trash service, sewer, snow removal and lawn care. You’ll also want to consider your home’s physical location, age and condition.

Need more help? Check out this worksheet as you begin drafting your new budget.  

Evan McElveen

This is a great course. It was very informative.

Alicia M Valladares

Great course, it has a lot information, very useful

Jacalynn Taylor

I like the task manager and the budget form..

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Shelley Sines has been writing for MGIC since she graduated from college in 2007. Currently raising a sweet little family with her husband in the suburbs of Milwaukee. Happiest when cooking or gardening. Competitive Scrabble player. Enthusiastic about road trips, wine, good TV.