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Unbiased Financial Information Provided by Financial Finesse

Owning a home is a little like raising a child. Some days, all you need is a band-aid to fix a skinned knee. On other days, you're looking at a $5,000 orthodontia bill. The key to managing your home maintenance and improvement projects is understanding the difference between them and planning for both.

Regular Maintenance Keeps Repair Bills Down

Routine maintenance keeps your home in good shape and helps you avoid expensive emergencies. The Homeowner's Information Center provides a maintenance schedule that covers everything from inspecting the roof for missing shingles to re-caulking around doors and windows to examining the attic for leaks and draining the water heater to remove sediment.

Plan on budgeting between 1 percent and 3 percent of your homeThe cost of maintenance varies depending on things like home location, size, and amenities (pool, air conditioning, central vacuum system). Plan on budgeting between 1 percent and 3 percent of your home's purchase price to cover annual maintenance costs. While this may seem like a lot of money, it's peanuts compared to what you could pay for a major repair. For example, routine maintenance on a heating system can cost between $150 and $300 a year; a major repair can cost over $1,500.

Average Amount Homeowner Spent on Home Maintenance in a Year (rounded to nearest whole percentage) 67% <$599 16% $600-$1,199 10% $1,200-$2,399 7% >$2,400 *US Census Bureau

Like to do maintenance projects yourself? Find do-it-yourself information on a whole list of projects at DIY Network.

Major Improvements Can Increase Home's Value

The average return for a minor kitchen remodel: 79.3% *Remodeling magazineCapital improvements, like a new roof, windows, appliances, decking, a hot tub or room addition, can increase the value of your home, add to its lifespan, and make it more comfortable. They also usually put a major dent in your savings account and make you miss the days when you had privacy, peace and quiet, and sawdust-free lungs. Don't be discouraged -- just be prepared.

The average return for a bathroom remodel: 70% *Remodeling magazineAccording to a 2015 Cost vs. Value Report, the most popular improvements with the best return on investment are steel entry door replacements, manufactured stone veneers, garage door replacements, deck additions and minor kitchen remodeling. Statistics show that you can realize a rate of return between 60 percent and 100 percent on these types of improvements.

Also keep in mind that some improvements, while increasing the value of your home, may also create ongoing costs.When planning, keep in mind the value of your home and other similar homes in your neighborhood. Building a $150,000 state-of-the-art kitchen in a $400,000 home may not be the best move since neither your neighborhood nor your home will attract people who can afford this kind of upgrade when you sell.

Also keep in mind that some improvements, while increasing the value of your home, may also create ongoing costs. For example, adding a new room may increase insurance premiums and property taxes as well as electricity bills. Your realtor can also help you understand the financial impact of a home improvement.

Percentage Cost Recouped for Home Improvements: New Roof 71.6%, Bathroom Remodel 70.0%, Major Kitchen Removel 67.8%, Family Room Addition 64.1%, Master Suite Addition 61.7%, Deck Addition (wood) 80.5%, Entry-door Replacement (steel) 101.8%

What to Know When You Hire a Pro to Do the Job

Even homeowners who are handy with a hammer usually hire professionals to do major improvements like a kitchen remodel or room addition. If that's the route you choose, follow these tips:


  • Get at least three bids for the work.
  • Make sure each bid is for exactly the same job so that you can compare apples to apples.
  • Ask every bidder to factor in the cost of permits and licenses.
  • Request references from everyone you interview and do call previous clients to chat about how satisfied they were with the work and the workers.
  • Specify in the contract that you will pay for the job in stages. (It's customary to pay one third when the contract is signed so that the contractor can buy supplies. The number and timing of other payments depend on the size of the job and should be specified in the contract.)
  • The final payment should not be made until all work is successfully completed, inspected and approved.


Whether you're doing a major renovation or just applying a "band-aid" to the roof, the effort will keep your home looking good and functioning the way it's supposed to. And in the long run, it'll either save you some money or make you some - a nice reward for any responsible homeowner.

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