Saturday, December 17, 2011

Hidden costs of homeownership

Hidden costs of homeownership

Ready for repairs?
Leaky roofs, burst pipes and pest infestations -- all on your own dime. Though homeownership has many perks, there are some extra expenses to watch out for.

Maintaining and repairing a home can be daunting, especially if you're learning these skills for the first time as a homeowner.
Repair costs can make any first-time homeowner long for the "good old" renting days. Each of the major systems in your home, like the plumbing, electrical and roofing, serves a vital purpose and must be kept in good working order to protect your investment and keep life running smoothly.

The roof
Water is your home's biggest enemy, and one of the roof's primary jobs is to keep water out. Asphalt shingles   can become loose, cracked, be blown off by the wind or be damaged by hail.
The nails that fasten shingles to the roof can also rise, allowing water to get underneath and into your home.

A leaky roof can cause cosmetic damage to the inside of a home and possibly the belongings inside, depending on how severe the leak is. Seeping water can also cause health problems and structural issues.

Under normal circumstances, the roof will need replacement at least every 20 years. However, roofs have varying life spans, depending on the type of shingle used, installation quality, climate and weather.
Heating, ventilation and air conditioning
Because of its complexity, your home's HVAC system is not something you'll be able to inspect, repair or replace yourself. Unless you're an HVAC professional, you should be prepared to hire one from time to time.

You should budget for replacement of these units so you’re prepared when the existing ones wear out.

To help keep your furnace and air conditioner running efficiently, change out filters frequently. Homeowners with gas furnaces should have them inspected once a year. In many areas, this service is provided at no charge.
The electrical system
Arc faults and electrical shorts cause a fair number of electrical fires that burn down homes. All homeowners should have a basic understanding of how electrical systems work, in order to keep homes and families safe.

In addition to finding a trusted electrician, it’s important to understand the limits of your own skills. Why risk electrocution or a fire caused by faulty wiring just to save a few bucks?

Small plumbing problems   happen from time to time -- no matter where you live -- and, with basic plumbing knowledge, they aren't a big deal to fix.

Some older homes present larger problems when it comes to plumbing.
These homes often contain galvanized iron water pipes, which become clogged with mineral deposits over time, gradually reducing the water pressure in the home. These pipes cannot be repaired -- they have to be replaced. For new homeowners, the annoyances of noisy plumbing, frozen pipes and burst pipes can create more issues than they're worth.

In the woods, termites help turn fallen trees into topsoil, but you don't want your home turning to dust. Termites are attracted to wood and moisture, and they can get into your house through even the tiniest of cracks.

To prevent expensive structural damage to your home, make sure no wood such as tree stumps, lumber or firewood is touching the ground near your house. Prevent moisture from accumulating around your foundation by making sure the ground slopes away from your house, and hire an exterminator to regularly perform pest inspections.

Natural disasters
When you become a homeowner, damage from natural disasters becomes your problem.

Homeowners insurance typically does not cover "acts of God," meaning that you will need to purchase extra coverage against disasters like floods and earthquakes.

Unfortunately, this insurance can be expensive or have an unusually high deductible.

Mold can grow in wet or damp areas, and it can cause health problems. If your HVAC system is contaminated, you can spread mold through your home every time the furnace is running.

Preventing mold problems is a matter of keeping water out and plugging leaks to eliminate environments conducive to mold growth.
If your home is very humid, an air conditioner or dehumidifier will help prevent mold growth. Mold is not always visible; it can be hidden behind wallpaper, under carpeting and in a variety of other places. Mold can cause skin, eye and throat irritation, as well as allergic reactions and asthma attacks.

The bottom line
When most people think about homeownership, they think only about the monthly payments, or PITI: principal, interest, taxes and insurance. But maintenance and repair costs can eat up a fair share of your (not-so) disposable income, too.

Mortgage lenders don't factor repair expenses into the equations they use to determine your loan amount, but you should make sure you have room in your budget for the extra costs of keeping your castle.
Related Posts Plugin for WordPress, Blogger...

Design by Free WordPress Themes | Bloggerized by Lasantha - Premium Blogger Themes | Best Buy Coupons