9 Home Repairs You Can Count On (and When to Expect Them)

If you have ever purchased a home, you know that saving for that down payment is tedious. After budgeting and making financial sacrifices, the last thing any new homeowner wants to worry about is expensive home repairs. But unless you are prepared to ask the right questions of the previous homeowner, you may need to stick to the dreaded budget for longer than you think.

Here is what you need to know about common home repairs before you buy.

Roof (every 30 years)
The life expectancy of an asphalt shingle roof (the most common type in America) is about 30 years, with the average roof replacement costing around $12,000—although more accurate estimates are based on size, pitch (slope), and surface material. More high-end roof materials include slate, sheet metal, ceramic, and, of course, solar panels, all with varying life expectancies.

Windows (every 30 to 50 years)
When it comes to windows, wood casement windows have a longer life expectancy than aluminum casement windows, averaging about 50 years (wood) versus 30 years (aluminum). Obviously, the number and quality of the windows will greatly affect the replacement cost, should it be necessary. And for a better return on your investment, look for windows that are ENERGY STAR qualified. To get the most of existing windows, or when replacing windows, go to www.energy.gov for more information.

Gutters (every 30 years)
Gutters and downspouts are estimated to last for about 30 years; however, inefficient or improperly installed gutters can lead to a backup of water or ice, and can damage roofs, siding, and even a home’s foundation. Any standing water near the drainage point of a downspout may indicate improper installation, and you should ask the previous homeowner how long this has been occurring.

Central Air (15 years)
Much like a furnace, the lifespan and efficiency of a home’s central air conditioning depends on the relation of the size of the unit to the home. Several factors come into play when choosing the right unit for a home, such as the amount of wall and attic insulation, the efficiency and placement of your windows and doors, and the orientation of your home to the sun.

Furnace/HVAC (15 years)
A furnace replacement is on the mid-to-higher end of the home repair spectrum. Proper maintenance plays a big part in the lifetime of a HVAC system, so be sure to ask the previous homeowners about their upkeep. If you do need to purchase a new system, make sure you do your research, and understand the term annual fuel utilization efficiency (AFUE), which measures how efficiently a furnace converts gas into heating energy.

Hot Water Heater (13 to 14 years)
A water heater replacement is one of the most common household repairs, considering their life expectancy is about 13 to 14 years for a gas and an electric unit, respectively. It is not difficult to determine when you need to replace your water heater, as a decrease in water temperature will dictate the replacement.

Carpet or Vinyl Flooring (11 years, 30 years)
Interior projects, like flooring replacement, are often for aesthetic purposes rather than need-based replacements. But if you are considering a home with carpet, you should know that the lifetime of a carpet is only about 11 years. When considering an update, know that vinyl or tile flooring usually has about a 30-year life expectancy.

Hardwood Flooring (100 years)
Real hardwood floors have the longest life expectancy—up to 100 years—but may require refinishing to keep them looking new. Since there are many variations of wood flooring, it would be wise to do some research into which type best fits your family’s needs. Some flooring may be more sensitive to moisture or prone to scratching, and therefore require more maintenance.

Fireplace (100 years)
If you’re considering a home with a fireplace, you should know that, while fireplaces look nice and create relaxing environments, there is some very serious maintenance required to ensure safety. Although the lifetime of a wood burning fireplace is around 100 years, annual maintenance is still required. You should also consider the amount of homeowners insurance coverage required for a home with a fireplace.

By considering these important and often costly parts of your home, and asking questions about them beforehand, you will feel more confident in your purchasing decision, and you’ll be more likely to avoid headaches during the home inspection process. And once the home is finally yours, use the home maintenance schedule to protect your investment and get the maximum life out of your home.

Should You Live in a Multigenerational Home?

At one time, it was a common goal for the American college student to graduate, move out of the family home, and find a home of their own. However, with the rising cost of living and debt, people have started opting to live with family members. College graduates are moving back in with their parents to save money, and older adults are moving in with their children and grandchildren rather than into retirement homes. Should you consider a multi-generational home for yourself?

What exactly is a multigenerational home?

Although children and their parents are members of two different generations, this combination does not qualify as a multigenerational home. These homes consist of more than two adult generations living together or grandparents who live with grandchildren who are younger than 25.

Why do people choose to live in multi-generational homes?

Many Americans used to consider moving out of their parents’ homes as a sign of independence and adulthood. However, sharing a home is now becoming a mark of intelligence and sensibility. As the cost of living has risen dramatically, it helps to live in a group of multiple employed adults who can share the home’s expenses.

It’s also helpful for members of older generations to have young people around. As you age, it becomes more and more difficult to do physically-demanding chores and attempting to do so could cause injury. If the younger people in the home handle the more challenging chores, the older family members can take on less taxing jobs, like packing school lunches or setting the table.

Some of the greatest parts of living in a multi-generational home are the social benefits that everyone experiences. Elderly people can become lonely once they’re retired, potentially living at home alone or with a partner. A sense of purpose is crucial during all stages of life, and grandparents feel responsible for helping take care of their grandchildren if they’re living together. Children also benefit from bonding with their grandparents and learning to connect with older generations.

Of course, living in a home with a bigger group of people than a single-family home enhances the safety of everyone involved. If one family member has an emergency or accident, chances are someone else will be home to help take care of the problem. This is especially helpful for the elderly, who can experience complications if they fall.

What about privacy?

Privacy is one of the biggest concerns people have about switching to a multi-generational home. If you’re used to living on your own or with a more immediate family unit, this is a valid worry. However, families are devising new and inventive ways to make their homes both shared and private spaces. Some work with architects who can design a family home containing both shared living space and private sections. For example, your bedroom might be on one end of the house and your parents could be on the other. Other homes even have different entryways for the private sections. If you’re not looking to build an entirely new home, you can consider putting an addition on your home, transforming your garage into a suite, or designating certain floors of your home, like a basement or top floor, as designated private living space for one person or group of people.

How can we make it work?

If you’re considering living in a multi-generational home, it’s important to set ground rules for yourself and others. First, everyone should commit to taking personal time for themselves. Just because you live in a home with multiple family members doesn’t mean your life has to become a never-ending visit. Everyone should continue going to school or work, spending time with friends, and engaging in hobbies. Also, although grandparents can help with the children, parents shouldn’t expect the grandparents to act as a constant childcare service. Members of the household have to agree to respect one another and not just assume people will pick up responsibilities without being asked. Most of all, it’s important to communicate openly so that issues don’t build up over time without resolution.

Whether you’re trying to save money, care for a parent, or establish a close family unit, a multigenerational home could be the right decision for you and your extended family.

Basic Budgeting Tips to Get You Started

Let’s face it—we could all do better with budgeting. Whether you just splurged on a pair of jeans you really didn’t need, or eat out one too many nights a week, money goes faster than you think. Those daily lattes add up, after all. If you’re new to budgeting, it can seem like an overwhelming territory to navigate. These tips keep it simple so you can tackle this responsibility with ease.

Figure out what your monthly expenses are.

I’ve played the game before of adding things up in my head and coming up with an arbitrary number of how much I spend a month. But sitting down and actually looking at your bank statements to see what you’re spending is another story. Break it down into the various categories you’re spending in so you can see where it is you can cut back.

Set goals.

Is there a trip you’re saving up for? Are you trying to make your own meals instead of eating out as much? Have you had your eye on a designer purse for a while? Everyone has something that they want to save up for, so set goals for yourself! This will create an incentive for when you notice yourself spending frivolously.

Don’t spend more than you make.

This sounds like a no brainer, but believe it or not, 43 percent of Americans spend more than they make on a monthly basis. That’s a pretty startling number, and you don’t want to be a part of it. Only put on credit what you can afford.

Actually stick to your budget.

We’re only human, and we all have slip-ups. But don’t let one indulgent extra-large latte on a crappy Monday turn into a daily ritual—before you know it, the budget is out the window. Set reminders on your phone or have a trusty friend hold you accountable so you remember to stick to your monetary goals.

Put the extra money into savings.

Out of sight, out of mind—that’s how I view my savings account. I don’t view the money in my savings as spendable. I see it as money that will go towards a big-ticket item or a once-in-a-lifetime trip down the line.

There are countless other budgeting tips, but stick to these basics and you’ll be off to a great start. Happy saving!

Don’t Make These Common Home Buying Mistakes

When you are looking to buy a home, there isn’t wiggle room to forget or overlook any part of the process. Here are a few common mistakes that can easily be avoided.

Create a Budget
Make sure before even beginning the home buying process, you are aware of how much you are able to spend, how much you plan on saving, and your credit score. You never want to put yourself in a position where you are unable to spend what you thought you could. Set a budget for yourself and have a goal for saving.

Underestimating costs
Think beyond the down payment. There are going to be a lot of different factors you will need to take into account when it comes to saving—if something in the home needs repair, if you plan on painting, if you have any extra fees based on location. These are questions to think about, and come up with a reasonable solution, too, so you don’t have to panic about it later.

What you need vs. what you want
Make a list of what you must have as a part of your future home and what’s more of a “want.” You won’t always be able to hit every aspect on your list of wants, but make sure things that are not flexible once you buy, like location, are things you are satisfied with. If you want a deck and your home lacks one, that’s always something you can add on in the future.

What’s the neighborhood like
Its super important to take your lifestyle into account when it comes to the atmosphere in your neighborhood. Do you walk your dog? Does the neighborhood have sidewalks? Dog friendly parks nearby? Do you tend to enjoy rural or suburban areas more? Don’t settle in an area that you are not comfortable with.

Honesty with your agent
Sometimes it’s hard to lay everything out about your personal life in terms of needs and financial stability—which is why it important to be honest with your agent. Don’t try and overestimate your budget, speak up if you don’t like something, and don’t settle. This is one of the most important decisions of your life. If you are not completely honest, you are going to struggle or have to deal with the consequences somewhere down the road.

Going in without backup
Agents exist for a reason– they have access and experience in buying homes that you probably do not. You are more likely than not going to be extremely stressed–which can lead to rash decisions. Let an agent give you peace of mind, walk you through each step of the home buying process, and make your life a lot easier.