Money Matters

6 Easy Ways to Save Money on Home Repairs

December 05, 2013 | Alliant Credit Union

Whether your home is brand new or needs a little (or a lot) of TLC, it’s helpful to know how to save money when you inevitably make needed improvements. Opportunities to save will depend on the type of project you find yourself dealing with, but there are usually ways to skirt the more expensive options and find a deal or two. Here are some of the easiest ways to save money on home repairs.

DIY
The Do-It-Yourself approach has shifted from frugal necessity to trendy mode of self-expression, thanks to websites like Pinterest and Etsy, but the money-saving benefits are still its biggest selling point. DIY activities run the gamut from crafty home decor to the heavy-duty repairs your home needs every now and then. For example, do you have a leaky faucet? Consider heading to your favorite search engine to track down videos or tutorials that provide helpful step-by-step instructions before you call someone who will definitely charge you for the job. But think twice before installing your own furnace (or taking on any other heavy-duty job). If you have limited experience with home repairs, it’s still best to leave potentially dangerous tasks to the pros.

Budget
There are some situations where you can’t avoid calling Mr. Fix-It. This is just one major reason why it’s incredibly helpful to have a rainy day fund for home repairs. Setting aside funds ahead of time will relieve most of the stress if you need to fix your roof or repair windows in a hurry, both projects that you can bet will be really expensive.

Second opinions
Say you’re looking to have your driveway repaved or dreaming up a grand landscape design. Don’t let a desire to get the project done right away prevent you from shopping around for the best price and asking yourself, “Am I saving enough?” Propose your plans to at least two companies to see where they both fall. You may get a deal if you drop a subtle hint that you are comparing offers from more than one place.

Know your stuff
It’s helpful to be familiar with the fundamentals and appropriate technical terms of any project, even when working with a home repair professional. You would avoid leaving your car at the shop without any expectation of what repairs it will need, and how much they will cost – the same goes for work on your house. Understanding the basics of a project can help you save an adequate emergency fund and avoid getting fleeced. Sites such as moneypit.com and diynetwork.com can help you learn the “contractor lingo,” so you know the right questions to ask and when you might need to step in before projects go beyond your budget.

Make a list
Which repairs are necessary and which can wait? Prioritizing things you need updated or replaced around your home is a must if you’re on a budget. If you’ll need to install storm windows, allocate funds for that project before making cosmetic landscape improvements, for example. And it might seem like common sense, but save outdoor projects for spring or summer and indoor projects for colder months if you live in a seasonal climate.

Stay involved
If you hire a contractor to complete work in your home, make sure you stay involved in the process to avoid any unexpected costs. It’s never a bad idea to check in on the work throughout the day to ensure things are happening as discussed. Also, it’s easier to discuss any additional steps, if necessary, when you have an informed say in the work.

Home repairs can be expensive, but they don’t have to be overwhelming.  With a little preparation, planning, research and saving, you can maintain your home with needed repairs and maybe even have extra funds for a fun side project.


Sara Collins is a writer for NerdWallet, a site dedicated to helping homeowners make informed decisions, from choosing between a fixed or ARM mortgage to shopping for home insurance.

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