It happens to every homeowner–what appears to be a simple fix turns into a huge expense in both time and money. When you’re the one with the clogged gutter that turns out to be a bad roof, here are five tips that will help you manage the repairs without breaking the bank.
Get Several Estimates
Getting estimates on home repairs is a lot like taking your car to the mechanic–you go in for an oil change and ten minutes later are worried your car will explode if you don’t spend a thousand dollars on new filters and belts and tires and whatnot. Only contractors deal in much bigger numbers, guaranteed to cause heartburn, and unless you’re a builder yourself it’s hard to know what’s necessary and what’s padding. Ask at least three contractors for an estimate. If the problem is clearly electrical or the roof or plumbing, have three electricians, roofers, and plumbers come over and review the problem.
Get Your Estimates From Different Size Companies
Take a Goldilocks approach to estimates. Get one from a large corporate source, one from a middle sized local company, and one from a guy who works out of his pickup truck. Compare the scope of work and cost from each one–you expect the one from the big company that runs ad on TV to be the most expensive and the one from the solo guy to be the cheapest, but look closely at the estimates to figure out what’s different. Aside from the first guy having a lot more overhead, how do the estimates differ? How are they similar? Find the common ground on each one–that’s what’s crucial to repair.
How Comprehensive Is Each Estimate?
Let’s assume you have a cracked heat exchanger. If this is your first home and you’re not an HVAC expert, you’d be right to assume that fixing the crack would solve the problem, and that won’t be such a big deal, right?
The heat exchanger in your furnace is the thing that keeps the nasty fuel byproducts out of your house–carbon monoxide, caustic condensation, and water vapor. A cracked exchanger can’t do the job, and at best drastically decreases the efficiency of your furnace. Carbon monoxide getting into the house is the worst case scenario, so clearly if your heat exchanger is cracked you have to fix it. Usually this means a whole new heating system–no small expense.
So assuming you have a couple of estimate for a new system, from reputable companies, how can you tell if it covers all the expenses? It helps to have a basic understanding of construction, so you know what’s really involved with the project, to know if the estimate is turn-key (everything is covered) or the just the main component of a multi-layered project.
Going back to the heat exchanger, have you or the HVAC companies considered the following:
- is your wiring up to code
- are your ducts clean, straight, and functional, or do they need to be replaced
- is the HVAC unit sufficient capacity to heat the house
A good estimate will allow for electrical work, duct repair, and an upgraded system, if that’s necessary. If you have a particularly low number from the contractor, review it carefully to ensure the work proposed will completely fix the problem. A solo guy might tell you he has a new, efficient unit he can sell you cheap, and that may well be a great deal. But does it have the capacity to heat a house as big as yours? Is your electrical system up to the task of handling a highly efficient new system, how much are any wiring upgrades? The big company will take all of the possibilities into account and manage the installation of the system, sub out the electrical, and repair or replace and inefficient ducts–lots of manpower that translates into lots of zeros.
This is why it’s so important to compare estimates, so you can figure out what’s absolutely necessary and what you can defer for awhile.
Factoring Time Cost
It’s February and you’ve got to completely replace your heating system, including ducts. You’ve managed to finance the unit and the work, and it’s scheduled to start in a couple of days. Can you live in the house during the project? How many days does the contractor expect he needs to complete the work? Do you have a backup plan in case there’s bad weather and they can’t work for a few days? If you have to move in with friends or into a hotel, have you budgeted for that, and for pet boarding?
Lots of home repairs seem to be fairly non-invasive on the surface, but once you’re living in a work zone the incessant hammering, drilling, and other construction noises get on your nerves fast–and if you’ve got kids it’s exponentially annoying. Unless your repairs are a day or two of outside work, make a plan for where you’ll live during the work.
A Better Way
At this point, nobody would blame you if you threw up your hands and walked out the door. Large home repairs are expensive, time consuming, and inconvenient. You’d like to sell the house and move, but a prospective buyer would want you to fix the problems or drastically reduce the price, and it could be months before that buyer appears. A realtor would want you to fix the roof, or HVAC, or whatever, which is what you’d like to avoid altogether, since the point of selling is to not have to spend the money to fix the house.
In a perfect world, you could sell the house without dealing with a realtor, and do it quickly and without the hassle of the fickle buyer. Before you walk out, leave the door open for Seller’s Advantage to come in and buy your house, in as-is condition. You can have cash in hand for a new house and a moving truck in the driveway in a couple of weeks. Seller’s Advantage will give you a binding offer right away, sometimes in 24 hours or less. So take the easy way out of expensive home repairs, and call Seller’s Advantage today.