One of the biggest differences between homeownership and renting is the lack of a maintenance man to come and make home repairs on demand.

Photo: Vivian Johnson Photography

Even in the newest of construction, unexpected home repairs can occur and the costs can be significant. Discover which repairs will break the bank, and the maintenance you can do to help prevent these expenses.

Problem: Rewiring Your Electric

Replacing your electric system is something that typically happens in older homes. The wiring may be frayed and causing a fire danger, damaged by water, or simply not set up correctly for modern voltage use. Common estimates to rewire your home start at $4,000 and go up. In addition to the wiring work itself which will require a professional electrician, you will need to pay for permits and repair and replace wall damage. You also should never postpone replacing faulty wiring, as this could pose a danger from fire resulting in injury and the loss of your home.

Photo: Laura Stein Interiors

Solution: Inspections

When buying an older home, you should have an inspection done to ensure that you know which repairs must be done, and ideally have the ability to request these repairs be completed before you ever move in. Even brand new construction should have a home inspection, as a shiny exterior can hide greater flaws. After move in, make sure you regularly check for signs of electrical damage when you do seasonal maintenance, and immediately repair faulty switches or outlets.

Problem: Replacing Your Roof

Roofs will traditionally take minor damage throughout the seasons, which can be easily repaired through regular cleaning and maintenance. If a roof issue goes undetected, you may be in trouble, requiring an entire roof replacement. An average for a complete roof replacement cost will begin around $5,000, but can quickly escalate to far higher numbers. Depending on how long the roof has been damaged, water may have been seeping in for months or even years, creating further structural damage, or dangerous mold.

Photo: South Park Design Build

Solution: Maintain and Repair

The key to avoiding costly roof repairs is to maintain your roofing material and quickly repair any damage. Inspect your roof seasonally for loose or missing roof tiles. Unclog gutters and make sure there is proper drainage after a storm or during seasonal inspections. When purchasing, always make sure you have the roof inspected, including checking crawl spaces and attics for hidden leaks.

Problem: Plumbing Leaks

Plumbing leaks can have a range of severity as well as a range of causes. Sewer lines can cause hidden leaks underground that may back up into your home. Broken pipes may cause a slow leak hidden in a wall that can cause long-term damage. Even a simple sink can cause costly damage to your kitchen floors and cabinetry. Plumbing alone can start around $2,000 for serious issues. If your plumbing has had a hidden problem for a long time such as a sewer pipe below the house, this can also affect the foundation — a monster repair that will easily run from $10,000-$30,000.

Photo: Two Hawks Design and Development

Solution: Monitor Water Both in and out

One simple way to detect a hidden water leak is to review your water bill. Any spikes in usage not explained by your family use could indicate a water leak. You can hire professional leak detection experts to track this down if a leak seems probable. Also look for signs of moisture inside — you may see mold, discoloration, or warping. Be aware of your water pressure as sudden loss of pressure could indicate water escaping elsewhere. Also be aware of drainage. A slow, severely clogged drain could be prone to breakage in the future. Avoid using caustic drain cleaners as these may further corrode older pipes.

Home repairs can be costly and unexpected. Major repairs typically start in the thousand dollar range and the cost only goes higher when you factor in permits, repair to home decor, and the cost of losing the use of part of your home while these repairs happen. Your best protection against costly repairs is to regularly complete the small repairs and regularly perform seasonal maintenance. Keeping your house clean can help detect issues while still manageable and before expenses rise. Preventative care such as cleaning gutters can help ensure proper water drainage and avoid damaging backups.

If you are unable to perform regular home repairs due to time, knowledge, or physical limitations there are many talented individuals who can help with home repairs on demand. Call your local handyman or service provider to save money in your long-term investment.