The Costs of Being a Homeowner

May 12, 2007

The costs of owning your home seem to come in groups for some reason. A leaky roof, no central air, and impending flooding hit us all at once this week.

No Air Conditioning
On Sunday night my wife announced it was too hot for comfort and that she was turning on the air conditioner for the first time this spring. We flipped the switch to cool, turned down the thermostat, and air poured out of the vents. Unfortunately it wasn’t cold air. The blower for the furnace was on but our air conditioning unit was not running.

As the repair man headed our way the next afternoon we tried to troubleshoot the problem over the phone. It turns out our only problem was that the circuit breaker had been tripped so there was no power to the unit. Luckily, the repair guy hadn’t reached our house yet when I made the discovery so we avoided the $85 visit. We’ve never had any maintenance done on the air conditioner since we built the house so I did schedule maintenance for next week.

Potential Flooding
We live in a low lying area but because it’s been deemed a 100 year flood plain, our insurance company doesn’t require us to buy flood insurance. Every spring when we have a lot of rain, I call our insurance company to sign up for flood insurance but for various reasons I never have. Sometimes their flood division is closed when I call, one time the paperwork was never mailed out to us. Regardless of the excuses, I’ve never done it. Then summer rolls around and I decide to save a few bucks and wait till the next January or February to sign up.

When our area received a lot of rain in a short period of time this week, I began to worry. A river in our valley left its banks and it kept on raining. Luckily for us and many others the rain eventually stopped and hopefully the flood threat has passed for this season.

Watching the river creep closer and closer to our neighborhood is a very stressful experience, especially when you don’t have flood insurance. It’s foolish of me to have put off buying insurance as long as I have so when the flood insurance office opens Monday I’ll be their first caller.

Leaky Roof
As if the air conditioner not running and the river leaving its banks wasn’t enough, some wonderful water stains in our ceiling let us know our roof was leaking as well. Obviously once the rain stopped the leaking ended but now we have some work to do on our ceiling. The roof guy came out today and found the source of the leak. It turns out water was coming through in more than one place but we’d only seen signs of one leak. For $150 he’s coming by next week to patch the leaks and do a little maintenance on potential trouble spots.

Could Have Been Worse
Every cloud has a silver lining, right? Ours was the trusty sump pump! It ran and ran for several days, keeping our basement high and dry. A friend at work was not as fortunate. His sump pump went out and the basement flooded with four feet of water. It’s an unfinished rock basement so there’s no cosmetic damage but he’s looking at a bill for a new furnace and hot water heater, ouch!

Homeowner Costs
There were others in our area that did have their homes flood so we feel lucky to gotten off with minor damage. As the week winds down it turns out the costs of being a homeowner this month are much lower than I thought a few days ago. A $75 tune-up for the air conditioner, a $150 roof patch job, and monthly flood insurance payments aren’t too bad in retrospect.


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Ben Edwards, the founder of Money Smart Life, saved up enough to buy a Nintendo back when he was 12 years old. When he used the money to buy shares of Wal-Mart stock instead, he knew he wasn't like the other kids... His addiction to personal finance has paid off for his family and now he's helping you to afford the life that you want. Check him out on the web at Google Plus, Twitter and Facebook.

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9 Responses to The Costs of Being a Homeowner

  • kristen

    I live in the Midwest and we have some of the same issues that you mention. High water table, leaky basements, etc. My biggest issue this year has been the septic system. Who would’ve thought that just a few loads of laundry and a couple of baths could cost so much in clogged septic systems. I think I might be ready to move back to the city.

  • Q at $1 Million to My Name

    One thing I fail to do is pay for upkeep. Should I pay to have an HVAC guy come and tune up my A/C and furnace? I haven’t changed the oil in my lawn mower ever. That reminds me…

  • Ben

    Nickel, I didn’t know there was a 26% chance over the life of a 30 year mortgage. We likely won’t be in this house for 30 years but I’m going to sign up for flood insurance just to be safe.


    Weird. Not sure why that came up as anonymous — it was me that left the first comment.

  • Anonymous

    You may or may not know this, but there’s a 30 waiting period on flood insurance. If you wait until it starts raining to call, you’re screwed. If you live in a 100 year flood zone, you’re smart to call. Did you know that you have a 26% chance of being hit by a 100 year flood (if you live in a 100 year flood zone) during the course of a 30 year mortgage.

    Also, it’s the mortgage company that requires flood insurance, not your insurer. And usually being in a 100 year flood zone results in them forcing you to buy the insurance.


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