How To: Save 80% on Home Repairs

By Scott Sidler • May 13, 2013

How to save 80% on home repairs may sound like a marketing hype gone wild. But anyone who has been a reader of this blog for more than a week will know that that is not my style.

Image credit: stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo
Image credit: stockbroker / 123RF Stock Photo

I am very serious about that title. What I’m going to share with you today is SO simple and it actually can save you around 80% on the cost of your home repairs. But be warned, while the advice is easy, following through is the hard part. Here’s the story:

I recently spoke at the Tampa Preservation Historic Homes Workshop. My topic was Deferred Maintenance Nightmares concerning old homes. You can see the slide presentation if you click here.

In my research for the speech, I looked back at my company‘s books and noticed that 79% of our work last year was preventable. Meaning 79% of the work we did on old homes was repair work due to neglect. The other 21% was either maintenance or elective remodels.

In other words, if someone had paid a little more attention to the condition of their old home, they likely could have solved the problem before it got big enough or bad enough to call me.

To be completely honest, writing this post frightens me as a business owner. While part of me wants to tell people to continue to ignore their houses and pay me to bring them back to life later, the teacher in me can’t bear to not share this important information with you.

The Answer Is…

Preventative maintenance. It’s simple to say, but hard to do as a homeowner. The only time we, as homeowners, think about working on our old home (other than to remodel and improve something) is when something is broken or leaking so badly it demands our attention.

Preventative maintenance is the most cost efficient way to take care of a house.

It’s what commercial buildings do all the time. You think the Empire State Building just waits for something to break before they fix it? No, they have a team of maintenance workers working everyday touching up paint, cleaning floors, oiling the elevators (I would guess they need oil). They are constantly working to keep the building functioning efficiently and effectively.

Why shouldn’t we treat our homes the same way? It’s so much cheaper to touch up paint than to repair rotted wood. Treat you home at least as well as your car and bring it in for an oil change every 3,000 miles.

Fixing things before they break may seem like an unnecessary expense at first, but think about the alternative. If you replace your water heater when it’s near the end of its lifespan you can wait for the best deals at the home improvement store and get the right replacement at the right price. Or you can wait until it breaks, spilling gallons of water all over your house. Now you have plaster to repair, hardwood floors to fix and you end up buying whatever water heater is available immediately regardless of cost because you need hot water ASAP.

Preventative maintenance is the key to saving your old house and saving money. In this post (Preventative Maintenance Checklist) I show you how to make sure everything remains in excellent shape. And that has to do with regular preventative maintenance inspections which I’ll cover in detail. But for now, just know that the typical old house catastrophe usually begins as a small issue that is left too long before it gets the attention it needs.

Don’t sweat the small stuff, but fix it before it becomes the big stuff.

 

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2 thoughts on “How To: Save 80% on Home Repairs”

  1. i would add these regular maintenance items:

    – have your main sewage line (if you have municipal sewage connection) roto-rooted at least every other year, especially if you have trees in your yard. Homes in older neighborhoods often have old jointed clay drain lines and tree roots eventually find their way in a clog them. Do it before your drains start slowing down. Cost is usually only around $100 to $150 and if you check company websites under “drain line cleaning” you can often find seasonal coupons or specials to get it done cheaper.

    – Water heaters should be drained every 2 or 3 years to remove sediment which will shorten their lives. Also, you should replace the anode rod in the water heater every 5 years — this can DOUBLE the life of the unit, There are plenty of on line videos demonstrating these simple procedures that only require basic tools and modest mechanical dexterity.

    I’ve often thought that houses should come with an “owner’s manual” explaining what needs to be tended to on a regular basis. We have them for our cars, our refrigerators, even our toasters! But the one item upon which we depend the most (and usually spend the most of our income) more often than not is neglected.

  2. A great post with so many amazing ways so as to save on home repairs and maintenance.

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