When you own a home, it can seem as though you spend an inordinate of time (and money) on home maintenance. And it’s normal to want to skimp. After all, who wouldn’t prefer to head out to brunch rather than caulk the shower? But any homeowner will tell you that the time you spend doing maintenance will pay dividends in the long run, thanks to a safer home that’s less likely to need major repairs. Here are 5 common home maintenance fails to avoid.

Not budgeting enough for home maintenance

Home maintenance costs money. One commonly accepted rule of thumb is to budget one percent of the home’s purchase price for home maintenance each year. So, if your home cost $350,000, you can predict you’ll spend about $3,500 on maintenance  or averaged out over the long haul. A second way to estimate suggests that you’ll average $1 per square foot of your home. So you’d budget that same general amount for a 3,500-square-foot home. Of course, the condition and age of your house will skew this percentage, but if you like working with ballpark figures, these can help.

Not considering a home warranty

Another way to keep costs down is to get a home warranty, which typically covers major elements like your kitchen appliances, washer and dryer, heating and cooling systems, plumbing systems, and electrical systems for a certain period of time.

Remember that while a home warranty can be useful, it’s no substitution for ample homeowners insurance. That’s because proper homeowners insurance will cover a home’s structure and your belongings, unlike a warranty.

Ignoring minor problems

So your paint is peeling a bit, or the caulk around your sink is splitting. You may be tempted to ignore small problems like that. But unfortunately, these small problems become big problems, especially when you’re talking about anything that could allow water to seep through. Peeling paint in your bathroom can lead to mildew and mold, as can cracked caulk.

Another easily ignored issue is a small leak in your plumbing, which can also lead to water damage in the foundation, walls, and floors  not to mention an unnecessarily large water bill.

Trying to DIY when you really don’t know how

You may be very handy, but some home maintenance issues should most likely be fixed by a professional. Four common ones include:

  • Plumbing
  • Electrical
  • Foundational
  • Roofing

Consider that the professionals who do these repairs trained to learn how to do them and focus on them all day long. They’ve undoubtedly seen your problem before and are well equipped to solve it. So go ahead and add some caulk, clean the lint screen, or change the lightbulb. But leave the professional-grade work to a professional.

And if you balk at the idea of shelling out cash, remember the adage, “If you think it’s expensive to hire a professional to do the job, wait until you hire an amateur.”

Not adhering to a maintenance schedule

Some homeowners love to spend every Saturday puttering around the yard or home. And others, well, don’t. But just because you’re just not that into it doesn’t mean you can shirk your duties. Vow to spend one afternoon a month inspecting the house to figure out what home maintenance needs to occur, and then create a schedule for yourself to ensure nothing falls through the cracks. Here’s a great place to start with our guides for fall, winterspring and summer.

And of course, the biggest home maintenance fail is not having adequate homeowners insurance. It’s easy to get a quote and only takes a few minutes.

Home and garden | Home safety


about Cathie

Cathie Ericson writes about personal finance, real estate, health, lifestyle, and business topics. When she's not writing she loves to read, hike, and run. Find her @CathieEricson.