Author Topic: Home maintenance costs  (Read 2431 times)


  • Bristles
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Home maintenance costs
« on: October 30, 2016, 06:25:06 AM »
I thought this might be a good place to ask as Mustachians know a thing or two about tracking their spending and not wasting money frivolously so if anyone will have a good answer to this it will be on this site.

I am going to be buying a house in the next 6 months or so and am trying to nail down an estimated budget. The rule of thumb I commonly see thrown around is 2% of home value a year will be spent on upkeep. I am having trouble believing this amount for most homes (where I am anyways). Using a price of 350k -  I could pay to build a deck, replace the roof  or redo a bathroom every 1.5-2 years.

Also when I step back and think about it I know plenty of people who probably haven't spent on more than a new appliance or couple windows in 10+ years with no issues with their house.

I understand that maintenance is a very real cost that will creep up from time to time and it should be budgeted for however what is your experience with what it adds up to over the long run?
« Last Edit: October 30, 2016, 06:28:57 AM by FIRE47 »


  • Bristles
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  • Location: Colorado
Re: Home maintenance costs
« Reply #1 on: October 30, 2016, 07:08:52 AM »
Condition and age of the home are one BIG factor - so make sure you hire your own home inspector (do not go with one referred by your real estate agent).  After the inspection, pose this question to him/her. 
The other big factor is how spendy you are, and whether there are home-owners association requirements for maintaining the house in a spendy way.  There are people on my street that gut a room in their house almost every other year and spend to have a tree trimmer come out and bless their trees and have lawn service and pour 1000s of gallons of water on the lawns and etc.  You are unlikely to behave similarly unless there is an HOA threatening legal action if you don't maintain the exterior in similar fashion.
My home was built in '95 and most of the major appliances including the furnace have been replaced and we had crap windows that had to be replaced (which is unusual).  We have lived here 13 years and have spent less than 10% of the initial cost of the house in that time on these activities.  In fact, we did several optional projects that come in below that spend level.
I am a DIYer and I do not mind having something that is not perfect and living with it until I am ready to replace it.  Best wishes, aperture.


  • Pencil Stache
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Re: Home maintenance costs
« Reply #2 on: October 30, 2016, 07:10:53 AM »
We have owned three houses over the last 10 years, ranging from $175k-$250k. On average, we've spent ~$2500/yr on maintenance, ranging from big things (a new a/c unit, replacing cracked tile countertops) to smaller things (tree removal, plumbing, gutter repair - we're busy and not very handy, so we outsource all of that). The first two houses had other, bigger repairs that were needed when we sold, but we deferred those things since we didn't intend to stay long-term.... we easily could have hit the 2% number if we were staying longer-term and had handled all needed maintenance.

The current house is newer than the others (15 yrs old, vs. 30 & 80 yrs old) and therefore should need less maintenance.... though we may need a new a/c next year. (Had to have freon added this year and apparently our unit uses an old freon that will no longer be available next year, so the next time we're low we'll need a new unit).


  • Stubble
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Re: Home maintenance costs
« Reply #3 on: October 30, 2016, 10:15:17 AM »
I spend about 1%, but I didn't arrive at that number by using a rule of thumb. Instead I have a spreadsheet that adds up the expected repair and maintenance items. Each item has a replacement cost, an expected lifespan, and yields an amount I need to put aside each month. I pad it by 15% for things that were too small to itemize.

It's worth doing this exercise for yourself. For example, our roof has a lifetime guarantee, so I don't have that cost figured in. But we have a log home in a wintry climate, so it needs touch ups to the chinking and stain every 2 years.

I googled to get the expected lifespans for our appliances. (Though our 1980s harvest gold washer and dryer are beating the odds. )


  • Walrus Stache
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    • Spork In The Eye
Re: Home maintenance costs
« Reply #4 on: October 30, 2016, 10:55:51 AM »

I googled to get the expected lifespans for our appliances. (Though our 1980s harvest gold washer and dryer are beating the odds. )

The older you go... the longer they last.  I expect my 1951 stove to outlive me.


  • Handlebar Stache
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Re: Home maintenance costs
« Reply #5 on: October 30, 2016, 12:22:34 PM »
I plan on 10% of my budget (which is about 5% of the value of the home) to be spent on maintenance.  Most years we're well under budget (closer to the 2% of the home's value), but then there are the $7000 HVAC years (like last year)...  A new roof would run around $10k, as would a new driveway, and both of those are aging far too fast for my tastes.


  • Bristles
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Re: Home maintenance costs
« Reply #6 on: October 31, 2016, 01:11:28 PM »
I don't like rules of thumb based on a percent of the home price. It makes a big difference depending on where you live. I live in coastal Southern California. The cost of land is a very large part of my home value.  I have a house that is valued at $600K, but I could probably buy a similar house in a small town further inland for less than half that price.  So, basing my maintenance cost on 2% of the $600K price which is mostly stupid high land cost does not make sense. I think a much better way to go is the spreadsheet with the replacement cost of each major appliance, roof, etc. as shown in the reply above.  Another thing that makes a difference is the climate.  I live in a very mild climate and do not use my furnace or air conditioner very much.  I would expect them to last longer than average.  We almost never see freezing temperatures, so things like concrete, siding, and windows will probably last longer too.