Twelve Ways to Spend Less on Home Repairs

Your home is probably one of your most valuable assets, so keeping it in good repair should be a high priority. In a tight economy, it’s important to find creative ways to save money on fixing your home, from learning to do your own repairs to knowing when to call in an expert.  Here are twelve ideas that can help you spend less when making home repairs.

1. Keep up with basic maintenance to extend the life of your home.

Routine maintenance of both the exterior and interior of your home will save you money by preventing a need for more expensive repairs later. To protect your exterior against weather damage, important tasks include cleaning gutters, and calking windows, window trim and doors. Interior maintenance tasks include cleaning painted walls, particularly in the kitchen and bathrooms, to help extend the life of the paint, and calking showers, bathtubs and sinks to protect against water damage. Change furnace filters on a regular basis to extend the life of your furnace.

2. Learn to do your own home repairs for minor and medium repairs.

Use “how to” manuals, take a class at a community college, or watch do-it-yourself videos. Many home improvement stores offer informative videos on their websites. Check out Lowe’s online How-To Projects section which includes a projects library. Workshops are also offered at home stores. At Home Depot’s Learning Center Clinics, you can take classes such as “Affordable Kitchen Redesign” and “How to Install Wall Tile.” Your local hardware store can often offer ideas and information as well.

3. Trade your skills.

Lend a hand to your neighbors, who in turn can help you with your projects. Or find a trade or barter system where you can exchange your skills or materials. Shasta Commons offers a child-friendly Traders Co-op, where you can exchange your crafts, skills, services and more on the first Sunday of every month from 1-3pm, held at the Seed of Life Café, 414 N Mt. Shasta Blvd. in Mt. Shasta. For more information, visit shastacommons.org or call (530) 926-6836.

4. Find a reliable repairman who is skilled at many different jobs.

If you can’t do it yourself, wait until you have two or three projects before you call a repairman. This can save you money since you will not be calling for each project separately and paying for each individual visit.

5. If you need to hire a contractor or repairman, get at least three quotes.

With the current real estate market, some may be willing to negotiate a lower bid. However, make sure that you hire qualified and highly recommended contractors. Ask your neighbors, check with the Better Business Bureau, and read online reviews to help ensure that you hire the best person for the job. You don’t want to hire someone who does an inadequate job, and then have to hire someone else to redo the job!

6. Do your research when purchasing materials.

Go online to compare prices, and compare prices at your local hardware and home improvement stores. For higher-priced items, you can try to negotiate a lower price with retailers who know they might lose you to a competitor. Many manufacturers offer rebates; research online for printable coupons and for promotional codes available for discounted online purchases.

7. Shop for materials yourself even if you need to use a contractor for a project.

If the contractor says he can get a cheaper price for materials, you will be able to compare his or her prices with what you have found on your own.

8. Purchase building materials at a home supply recycling/surplus store.

These stores offer surplus building supplies (new and recycled), providing a cost-effective alternative for homeowners while helping the environment too. In Chico, visit the Habitat for Humanity of Butte County ReStore, open Mon.-Sat., 10am-6pm at 220 Meyers St.; (530) 895-1271. In Anderson, Moores Green Goods offers “rescued” building supplies, open Tue.-Sat., 10am-5pm at 1697 South St.; (530) 378-2700.

9. Repair or replace?

Decide when to repair or replace a broken appliance. If an appliance isn’t working properly, but is relatively new, replacing a part may be more cost-efficient than buying a new appliance. However, if the cost is more than half the purchase price, you should consider replacing the unit.

10.  Buy energy-efficient appliances and do other energy-efficient improvements to your home.

Although you will pay more up front, you’ll save more money in the long run by paying less on electric bills. Pacific Power, and Pacific Gas and Electric, both offer rebates for a variety of newly purchased and installed energy-efficient appliances, and for a variety of home improvement upgrades. For information, visit http://www.homeenergysavings.net/California/forms.html or http://www.pge.com/myhome/saveenergymoney/rebates/

11. Don’t forget to use your warranties.

Keep a special file of home appliance warranty information. When you buy an appliance, write on the manual cover information about when the appliance was installed and the date its warranty expires.

12. Contact local community action agencies.

Some agencies offer qualifying applicants low-interest loans specifically for energy-efficient home improvements, and some offer free home weatherization services to qualifying low-income homeowners and tenants. For example, the Community Action Agency of Butte County, (530) 538-7534, offers weatherization services; Shasta County Housing, (530) 225-5160, has a Housing Rehab loan program for homeowners in the unincorporated areas of Shasta County; and GNC (Great Northern Corporation) in Siskiyou County offers both weatherization services, (530) 938-4115 ex. 15, and low-interest loans, (530) 938-4115 ex. 21 – call for details and to determine  income and location eligibility.

Darla Greb Mazariegos
About Darla Mazariegos

Writer Darla Greb Mazariegos is a mother of three and part of the North State Parent staff.

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