My boy Clever Dude threw out a whopper of a post the other day, pretty much summarizing my biggest fears of home ownership ;) (Besides getting stuck and not being able to move whenever you want to). And I think it’s VERY important for people to know because a lot of us NEVER think about this stuff before we make these huge decisions of our lives. You can ignore it all you like, but if you think you’re invincible to doing any maintenance, think again. Don’t go into it a moron like I did…
Take a look at all the biggies Clever Dude is facing here in the near future – I’m not an appliance kinda guy, but I reckon if all those things exploded all at once he’d be left a solid $30k or $35k bill. Which I think is the point of his post (and also, I just went back to verify and I was right: $30k-$40k worth of damage if all went to hell).
- Water Heaters: Lasts 10-11 years. We have 2 water heaters. One (gas) is about 15 years old and the electric one is about 13. Both are well past their lifespan.
- Dishwashers: Lasts 9-10 years. Ours is about 9 years old now.
- Carpet: Lasts 10 years. We have 3 rooms where we haven’t replaced yet and all are at least 14 years old and have had pets and most likely smokers on them. Two rooms have original hardwood underneath, but we don’t know the quality and I’d rather just replace with the same Pergo floor as the rest of the house.
- Fridge: Lasts about 13 years. Ours is about 9 years, but I’ve already replaced a lot of parts on it myself so I’m not sure how long it will last ultimately. I know it was an expensive fridge when they bought it based on the receipt, but that doesn’t mean it’s reliable.
- Clothes washer: Lasts 10 years. Ours is probably 14 years or older. The knob broke off years ago, but we’ve been resourceful and use pliers to start it up.
- Clothes dryer: Lasts 13 years. We’re actually on our 3rd dryer. The first came with the house and the next two (counting our current one) came for free from our friend.
- Furnace and Air Conditioner: Lasts 15-20 years. Ours is about 16 years old, but it’s a high-efficiency unit. We’ve spent about $1000 over the years on repairs, but it just takes one crack in the heat exchange unit to jack up the cost of repair to the point of replacement.
- Roof: It varies, but our shingles are 20 year warrantied. I was just up on our roof recently and the roof looks good, but there’s a bit of buckling in one spot (I noticed it a few years ago) and it appears they just put the new layer of shingles over the original on the old part of the house. That could cause problems.
- Pool Plaster Lining: Ours is supposed to last 15-20 years, but we’re noticing it thinning and lots more “blue stuff” in the cleaner than 8 years ago. We spent $7000 just 2 years ago on brick and tile-work, and I expect to spend another $7000 on replastering the pool in the next 3-4 years (it’s quartz plaster, not the regular stuff that would cost $4-5k).
And here’s where we are – not *as* crappy, but still scary:
- Water Heater: We have one, at about 6 years old – I think we’re okay for a few more years?
- Carpet: Our entire main level needs to be done, but the rest is okay for now… could we go longer w/out anything updated? Sure, but eventually it gets gross.
- Fridge: I think ours is a good 10-15 years old. And every now and then it stops working for a few hours. DEF time to get a new one.
- Clothes washer & Dryer: Were on our 4th opair, all of which we’ve gotten off Craigslist for $50-$100 each (which is probably why they keep puttering out, haha…)
- Furnace and Air Conditioner: This one scares me the most as I’ve heard they can cost anywhere from $5,000 to $15,000, and our is at least 6 years old that I know, maybe more. It stopped a few times in the past 5 years, but luckily each time it was something small like a fuse or bad wire or something that only cost $100 to fix. But one day? Not so lucky.
- Roof: This is our best “win” w/ the house, we got the entire roof replaced as part of our buying contract – so it’s now about 4-5 years old. (The one smart thing we did when negotiating…)
- Pool Plaster Lining: N/A – I’ll never own a pool for exactly this reason. But maybe a hot tub one day (bow chicka wha wha!).
Clever Dude’s def. roughed up more than we are (sorry buddy!), but it just goes to show that this stuff is non-stop and always needs to be handled throughout the entire owning process. Something which is never your problem when renting – even though yes, you are “throwing away” your money (or as I like to think of it, “buying peace of mind!” Haha…).
And then of course, there’s all the cosmetic stuff you’d be tempted to do too at some point. Things like upgrading counter tops, your cabinets, putting in hardwood floors or tiles, getting everything stainless steel, refinishing the basement, building out secret passages, etc etc ;) Not things you may want to do right away, especially as a new home buyer, but stuff nonetheless that will creep up on you once you’re nice and settled in. Until you’re ready to upgrade to a bigger, fancier house of course ;)
My point? Just promise to consider all of this stuff when you’re out and about getting giddy home shopping. I’m not trying to sway you from doing it, or telling you home ownership is bad – it’s not, even though it’s not my favorite thing in the world – but I do want you to know there’s a lot more to it than just a purchase price and low interest rate. And one way to really stay on the safe side is by buying a home WITHIN YOUR BUDGET. Even if you can afford more, or bigger, it’s not necessarily the best move.
So just keep it all in mind for me, that’s all. If you’ve been diligently saving up, and found your dream house and are all ready to roll, go for it! I’ll be nothing but supportive of you if you’re doing it consciously, and have a nice emergency fund saved up :)
What do you other home owners want to add? Any biggies that you wish you knew more about when buying? Or are all you happy little campers?
(Photo by David Locke1)
Jay loves talking about money, collecting coins, blasting hip-hop, and hanging out with his three beautiful boys. You can check out all of his online projects at jmoney.biz. Thanks for reading the blog!