Face the Fixer Upper

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The dream of homeownership can overshadow the less appealing realties: Walls that beg for fresh paint, a lawn needing mowing, the faucet that drips.

“Everything in the house will either wear out, or need some TLC,” says Frank Lesh, executive director of the American Society of Home Inspectors.

Experts say buyers often neglect to consider the total time or expense maintenance requires.

Here, a look at some recent studies providing insight into upkeep realities:

1. Certain projects are popular among DIYers.

As the population ages, the overall numbers of owners tackling projects themselves has been declining, says Ed Hudson, director of the Home Innovation Research Labs. But, “households with children are substantially more likely to undertake DIY.”

In his latest stats, Hudson says 69 percent of owners will do their own interior painting, 58 percent will install appliances and deck and porch rails and 50 percent will put up fences themselves.

Other projects, like roofing, are attempted by only 18 percent, while thirty-eight percent install cabinets on their own.

2. A minority of owners pay for ongoing maintenance.

A recent Bankrate.com report finds that 29 percent of owners pay an average of $55 monthly for trash/recycling services. That’s followed by 27 percent who average $144 for landscaping monthly. Other services, used by less than 20 percent, include snow removal [$84 monthly] and pool care [$123}.

3. Bigger, pricier homes tied with higher expenditures.

An oft-cited rule of thumb is to expect maintenance costs to annually average about one percent of the value of your home. That’s average, some years more, some less.

Kermt Baker of the Harvard Joint Center for Housing Studies, says, “I’ve heard the one percent rule, but I’m not sure if that figure is intended to include improvements [like installing a new, upgraded flooring] or just maintenance. However, it’s often difficult to draw a clear distinction between these categories.”

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