CARLIE KOLLATH: Homeowners can get snagged by hidden costs

By Carlie Kollath / NEMS Daily Journal

Year three of homeownership began for me last week. The past few months have been challenging financially. It seems that every time I start saving for something, like new tires or a plane ticket, something in my house breaks or needs repairs. Maybe it’s the cost of living in a 102-year-old home, but it doesn’t make it any easier.
Some of the projects I’ve tackled so far:
New plumbing
Roof repairs
Attic ventilation
Gardening and landscaping supplies
Interior painting and wall repairs
Installation of a new sewage line after the old one collapsed
Repairs for the air-conditioning unit
Removing a hazardous tree
Digital thermostat and various energy-efficiency improvements
New water heater and washing machine.
I’m in the middle of a mold remediation project in my attic. Thankfully, my insurance company is covering the bill.
But as part of the remediation, the attic insulation had to be removed, which means I’ll be pricing insulation soon.
All the projects leave my checking account in a pretty sad state of affairs.
I was amused to see a European Quality of Life survey from a few years back that found that while Bulgarians had the highest level of homeownership in Europe, about 80 percent of the Bulgarians surveyed said they couldn’t afford to take a weeklong vacation.
Oh, how I identify with them.
According to a story on MSN Money, which cited Eric Tyson, the co-author of “Home buying for Dummies,” homeowners should expect to spend at least 1 percent of the home’s purchase price for annual maintenance.
For example, if you bought a $100,000 home, set aside at least $1,000 each year for maintenance.
The financial gurus call the maintenance expenses the hidden fees of homeownership. They say that when people are looking to transition from renting to owning, they usually look at their monthly mortgage and insurance payments.
But it’s the maintenance expenses that get people in trouble, Tyson said.
No kidding.
I try to keep my homeownership costs down by doing the majority of the work myself or using the help of knowledgeable friends and family.
I’ve been working my way through my home-inspection report from two years ago and making the repairs. BobVila.com also has a good maintenance checklist.
Some days expenses and the to-do list get a bit overwhelming for me. But the more I talk to my homeowner friends, the more I realize I’m not alone.
One friend told me she had a little breakdown because she was so overwhelmed with household tasks and then a neighbor staged an intervention to get her to tame her yard.
Been there. Done that.
And on days when I feel really overwhelmed, I remind myself that I can paint my walls bright blue, or I can rototill my entire yard – and I don’t have to ask a soul for permission.

Contact Carlie Kollath at (662) 678-1598 or carlie.kollath@djournal.com.