Image courtesy of Unsplash
Guest Author: Suzie Wison
Coming home to a mess is no fun, but it’s even worse when you don’t have a clue how you’re going to go about fixing your house, much less pay for repairs. Yet it seems everyone is in for at least one big calamity at some point during the journey of homeownership. Here’s how to ensure when that trial comes along it doesn’t get the better of you.
Your home is most likely your biggest asset. Adding money woes to house damage is like adding insult to injury, yet some surveys indicate most Americans have insufficient savings to handle big hiccups.
You might be thinking that you’re paying for home insurance so you don’t have to worry about repair issues, but that’s not necessarily the case. Similarly, those who live in condos are often surprised that between their own policy and what their association covers, certain things fall through the cracks. As Braden Insurance Agency explains, your insurance provider isn’t required to cover every issue that might befall your home. For example, damage due to power outages, sewage backup, or mold is all no-goes in most policies.
Unfortunately, these issues can be hazardous to your health, so you really can’t put them off. A power outage can mean more than spoiled food. In winter, beyond getting chilled, homeowners might experience frozen and burst pipes, flooded basements, mold, and more—ultimately leading to thousands of dollars in repairs.
Sewage backup is clearly unsanitary, and tidying up can cost homeowners a pretty penny. It will run about $7 per square foot to restore a home after this sort of problem, and obviously, time would be of the essence. It’s easy to see how that could add up fast.
Similarly, mold is an unhealthy situation that can lead to respiratory troubles and infections. Homes in damp climates are particularly susceptible to mold issues. Mold remediation is a costly concern, with the average homeowner paying $2,000 – $6,000 to resolve the issue. If something like this comes up, are you prepared?
Setting aside savings is your best bet for covering the costs of unexpected repairs. That way, if something breaks, if you have damage insurance doesn’t cover, or if something simply wears out, you have money handy to cover your out-of-pocket responsibilities. It can save you having to resort to charging repairs to a credit card or borrowing money from family members.
Another option for homeowners is to use their home’s equity to secure the necessary cash for remodel expenses. A cash-out refinance replaces your existing mortgage, and oftentimes the lender can offer you better terms. What’s more, the funds can not only be used toward home repairs, they can be applied to pay off other debts like high-interest credit cards.
Who will you call to restore your home to its former glory? It’s easy to see how a homeowner coming home to a disaster like sewage backed up could panic. Unfortunately, some contractors will play on your emotions, and it’s easy to fall victim to a scam at such times. Watch for red flags, like scare tactics, upfront payments, and a contractor who avoids putting things in writing.
When it’s time to hire someone to fix up your home, rather than rush into something, take a deep breath and get at least three quotes from some local contractors. Check their qualifications, insurance, and bonding, and get everything in writing. You should retain the right to cancel, and while they should not require funds upfront, keep in mind there could always be delays in the project timeline.
Big home repair bills are no fun, but with some preparation, they are a lot less painful. Make sure you set some money aside, and have a plan in case you don’t have enough cash handy. Hire good help to complete the repairs, and your home will be back up to snuff in no time!
Bio: Suzie Wilson is an interior designer with more than 20 years of experience. What started as a hobby (and often, a favor to friends) turned into a passion for creating soothing spaces in homes of every size and style. Visit her site at HappierHome.net