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Ahmer Butt

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When you own a home, you can’t call the landlord to repair a burst pipe or replace a broken refrigerator — it’s your responsibility. And while many homeowners budget carefully for mortgage payments and utilities, finding room in a budget for maintenance costs can be more difficult. Not only can home maintenance get spendy fast, but it’s also impossible to know how much repairs will cost — or when they’ll be needed at all.

You might not be able to predict when your water heater will burst or your roof will start leaking, but that doesn’t mean you can’t make room in your budget for home maintenance and repairs. Consider the size of your home, its age, your local climate and the cost of materials and labor in your area when calculating how much to set aside each month.

Factors That Affect the Cost of Home Maintenance

The average homeowner spends about $2,000 a year on home maintenance costs, but some years you might get away with spending a fraction of that amount, while other years you could spend two, three, five or six times that much on a new furnace, roof or air conditioning unit. What makes the difference?

One of the biggest factors affecting your home maintenance expenses will be the age of your home. A brand-new home may not need any maintenance at all for the first 10 years, but will start to need more maintenance as it ages past the 10-year mark. As your home reaches 20 or 30 years of age, big maintenance tasks will start to come up, like replacing the roof or the furnace.

If you’ve purchased an older home, much depends on how well previous owners took care of it. A 150-year-old house that has been meticulously maintained and updated will be much less expensive to take care of than one that has been allowed to fall into disrepair for some time.

Your home’s location and climate will also affect its condition and maintenance costs. Whether you live in a region with snowy, cold winters and hot summers or one prone to extreme weather events like hurricanes, your home will experience weather-related wear and tear. Even your home’s position within the neighborhood could make a difference; homes at the bottom of a hill are more likely to experience issues due to run-off, for example.

Finally, the cost of materials and labor in your area will also impact your maintenance expenses. Of course, the same local economic factors that affect these costs will also affect your wages.

Figuring Out How Much to Set Aside Each Month

There are several popular rules of thumb when it comes to calculating a monthly home maintenance budget. Many homeowners swear by purchasing home maintenance insurance in the form of a home warranty to help defray maintenance costs. A home warranty covers some or all of the costs of repairing or replacing home systems and appliances; all you need to do is pay a fee for the service call, usually $60 to $75. While it won’t cover everything that could go wrong with your home, a home warranty can help you cover repairing or replacing your furnace, air conditioning unit, water heater, large appliances or electrical system. It can also remove the burden of finding a reputable contractor to do the work since your warranty company will handle that for you.

Even if you decide to purchase a home warranty, you should still set aside money each month to cover costs that your warranty company won’t, including routine maintenance. One rule of thumb is to set aside 1 percent of the cost of your home per year. While this guideline takes into account local market factors, your home’s price may not accurately predict its maintenance costs. If you got a good price or bought right before the housing bubble burst or bought your house a long time ago, this method may be less than helpful.

Another rule of thumb is to calculate your house’s square footage and set aside that many dollars per year. So, if your home is 1,200 square feet, set aside $1,200 a year, or $100 a month. This square foot method takes your home’s size into account, which may give you a more accurate model of how much you can expect to pay in maintenance during the average year.

You can arrive at a more accurate number by increasing this sum by 10 percent for each of the factors, discussed above that affect your home’s maintenance needs. For example, if you live in an area with extreme weather, in a flood plain and have a 100-year-old home, increase your monthly base maintenance budget by 30 percent, for a total of $1,560 a year, or $130 a month.

Conclusion

If you can’t afford to maintain your home, then you can’t afford your home. Failing to repair and maintain your home in a timely fashion will cause it to deteriorate, becoming less valuable and perhaps even unlivable. By budgeting carefully, however, you’ll be ready when the unexpected occurs, so your home can remain your sanctuary.

Build-it-yourself furniture is popular for its versatility and low price tag, but it does come with one big drawback: You have to put it together yourself. Even putting the feet on a couch can seem overwhelming if you’re not good with tools or not used to working with your hands.

But you can still succeed at assembling your new furniture, even if you’re not very handy. All you need to do is have a plan, avoid common pitfalls, have some help, make safety a priority and know when to put down the tool belt and call in the pros.

1) Plan Carefully

There’s one sure-fire way to avoid the frustration that often comes with assembling flat-pack furniture, and that’s to go into it with a plan. Make sure you measure the space where you’re going to put the piece before you head out to your local big-box store. Clear the space where you’ll assemble the piece ahead of time — and for the love of Pete, assemble the furniture as close to its final location as possible! It might seem like a good idea to put together that new crib in the living room where there’s a lot of floor space, but not if you then have to carry it, fully assembled, up the stairs.

Most ready-to-assemble (RTA) furniture comes with some tools, like an Allen key and a small monkey wrench. But you’ll probably need a screwdriver, a hammer, a rubber mallet and maybe some other tools to get the job done. Get out the instructions and look them through ahead of time. This will give you an idea of what you’re in for, including what tools you’ll need and what kind of help you’ll need to enlist. Open the box carefully, following any instructions on the exterior. Examine for missing or damaged components before you get started.

2) Avoid Common Mistakes

If you’ve ever put together a piece of RTA furniture, you’ve probably made some classic mistakes. Just like splitting a piece of particle board while driving in a nail or ending up with gaps where there shouldn’t be any. Use masking tape to keep wood intact while you’re driving nails into it, and then peel it off once the nails are in place. Rub a bar of soap over pre-drilled screw holes to help the screw slide in more easily. Clamps can give you extra hands when you’re assembling a piece by yourself. Use a rubber mallet to hammer easily-damaged surfaces or to pound in dowels. Perhaps most importantly, don’t tighten screws as you go; get all the pieces together first, then start tightening screws.

3) Get Some Help

Lots of pieces require two people to put together. First scrutinize the instructions and enlist the help of a friend, neighbor or family member if necessary. You could end up damaging the piece if it’s one that requires two sets of hands and you tackle it alone. Worse, you could hurt yourself. Even a smaller piece will be easier to put together with help.

4) Know Your Limitations

In furniture assembly as in life, it’s important to know when walking away. Some items may require actual skill to assemble, while others may be too tedious for an amateur – do you really want to assemble all 300 pieces of that huge, six-drawer dresser? There’s no shame in calling a professional, and furniture assembly services can be found in most major metro areas from Los Angeles to New York.

5) Put Safety First

You may not be using power tools to assemble your flat-pack furniture, but that doesn’t mean you can’t hurt yourself doing it. Assemble furniture on a flat, firm surface in a well-lighted room. Use pliers to hold nails, so you don’t smash your fingers when you inevitably miss with the hammer. Lift carefully, engaging your core and using your legs, not your back, to bear the weight.

You don’t need to be a master carpenter to assemble flat-pack furniture, but it’s easier if you know what you’re doing. Use these tips to make assembling your furniture a breeze, so you can start using your new pieces and move on with your (newly furnished) life.

Types and Comparison of Home Heating Systems

Do you know your way around your home heating system? If you’re buying a home, renovating a home, or updating your home heating system, you need to know your stuff. Don’t leave home maintenance to the guys – you’re perfectly capable of making the right decision for your home.

Your Home Heating System
Image by: Usboiler

When you’re buying a home or redoing your home heating system, one of the most important decisions you have to make is whether you want a boiler or a forced air furnace. Depending on your house and fuel setup, there is no clear answer as to which is better. Find out which one is better for your home and lifestyle right here.

Initial Cost of Home Heating Systems

home heating system installation
Image by: Homebuilding

In terms of initial cost, furnaces tend to be much cheaper than boilers. The cost of installing a gas furnace averages around $1,200 (while electric can be as low as $600, the operating costs will be much higher). By comparison, the average boiler costs $3,500, though high-end models can go as high as $10,000.

However, the cost of installing a furnace can be a lot higher if you don’t have a natural gas line already. The cost of connecting your home to natural gas can be range from $1200 – $5000, which is one reason many homes without gas hookups continue to use boilers. There’s also the cost of exhaust and air ducts that you will have to install. It’s one of the reasons why older homes that already come with boilers tend to stick to that heating system.

Comfort Heating System Brings

warm and comfortable feel with your home heating system
Image by: Chiquiita

One reason to install a furnace in a home that used a boiler is draftiness. Radiators are more efficient at distributing heat and they create warm, toasty floors without drying out the air. They can be really quite warm, but they are notably bad at warming up windows and the areas around them. If you have older, drafty windows, it can feel like your radiator isn’t doing anything. You may want to consider installing new windows first.

Energy Efficiency Of Heating Systems

energy efficient homes
Image by: Gotecotech

When it comes to energy efficiency, tank boilers tend to be more efficient on average. They have an average AFUE (Annual Fuel Utilization Efficiency) of 90 percent, compared to the average furnace’s 80 percent. You can get high-efficiency furnaces that run up to 98 percent efficient, though there is still heat loss in the ducts.

Heating Systems Operating Costs

The glowing look of home
Image by: Shoppremier

Boilers are typically much cheaper to run than furnaces, especially natural gas. The average annual cost to operate a furnace with natural gas is $850, compared to a boiler’s $240 per year. Boilers also win out if you use electric fuel, using $500 a year compared to a furnace’s $900, though these will depend on local electricity rates.

Furnaces are easier and more affordable to install, but boilers may be cheaper to operate.

Conclusion

The more information about boilers and furnaces you have, the better equipped you are to make the right choice. Learn about your home heating system and use this guide to help you decide which one is best when you upgrade or when you’re buying a home.