When I first became a homeowner, I wasn’t clueless about the costs involved. I knew that on top of my monthly mortgage payments, I’d have other expenses to deal with, like property taxes and homeowners insurance. I also knew that it would cost money to maintain my home. But there are certain types of maintenance that have, through the years, wound up being a lot more expensive than I imagined they would be. Here are a few that caught me by surprise.
1. Gutter cleanings
You may need to have your gutters cleaned once a year, twice a year, or more frequently, depending on the position of your home and how many tall trees hang over it. Thankfully, my home generally only requires a once-a-year gutter cleaning, but because I have a multistory property, I’m not comfortable with us tackling gutter cleanings ourselves. Doing so requires my husband to climb a very tall ladder while I hold said ladder steady as he jerks it back and forth. And given the risk of injury involved, it’s a task worth outsourcing to the professionals.
The cost of a single gutter cleaning, however, is about $200 to $240 for us, even though it takes a professional service well under 30 minutes to get the job done. I would’ve thought it would be cheaper based on how little time it takes to do the work, but because of the risk factor, gutter cleaning companies tend to charge more.
My home has a wooden deck that needs to be power-washed once a year. We also need to power-wash our siding every other year. It’s work that we’d be willing to do ourselves if it weren’t for the cost and hassle of renting a pressure washer.
A daily rental in our area costs around $100, plus we have to haul the machine from the hardware store to our house and back – and spend many hours getting the job done. In recent years, we’ve opted to just pay someone about $200 to do the work because it’s not all that much more expensive than renting the tools we need. But I was surprised that it cost that much to rent a pressure washer in the first place.
3. Deck maintenance
Besides the annual power-washing that our wooden deck requires, every other year, we have to re-sand and repaint our deck as well. The materials involved aren’t too expensive – maybe $100. But the work involved is extensive and tends to span multiple days, or otherwise requires us to work from morning to night, which isn’t easy since we have young kids at home.
Also, we need the weather to cooperate – it can’t be too hot, too cold, or too wet to paint and seal a deck – so we’re limited as to when we can do that maintenance. Plus, my husband and I both work full-time during the week and really only have weekends to tackle home projects. As such, we’re often forced to hire people to maintain our deck, and most recently, it cost us about $1,000 for a two-person crew to come in for the day.
Frankly, that number was shocking to me. But since, at the time, our weekends were busy and we didn’t want to take time off of work to deal with our deck, we forked over the money.
Go in prepared
Home maintenance can be a huge expense that catches many property owners off guard. Make sure to carve out plenty of room in your budget for home maintenance, keeping in mind that as your property ages, your costs may go up.
On my end, I have about $600 to $700 a month allocated to home maintenance. Some months, we spend less, whereas other months, we spend more – and that’s with doing certain tasks ourselves. Having that money set aside for maintenance helps us manage our finances as homeowners – and avoid stress when things end up costing a lot.
But that said, my $700 a month is just for standard maintenance – it doesn’t include repairs. Those can be even more expensive, which is why it’s important for all homeowners to have a healthy sum of money in savings at all times.
A historic opportunity to potentially save thousands on your mortgage
Offer from the Motley Fool: Chances are, interest rates won’t stay put at multi-decade lows for much longer. That’s why taking action today is crucial, whether you’re wanting to refinance and cut your mortgage payment or you’re ready to pull the trigger on a new home purchase.
We’re firm believers in the Golden Rule, which is why editorial opinions are ours alone and have not been previously reviewed, approved, or endorsed by included advertisers. The Ascent does not cover all offers on the market. Editorial content from The Ascent is separate from The Motley Fool editorial content and is created by a different analyst team.Ally is an advertising partner of The Ascent, a Motley Fool company. Maurie Backman has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has no position in any of the stocks mentioned. The Motley Fool has a disclosure policy.
The Motley Fool is a USA TODAY content partner offering financial news, analysis and commentary designed to help people take control of their financial lives. Its content is produced independently of USA TODAY.