5 house problems that can cost you $$$ after you buy

Library | 3/29/2021
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Imagine this: you’ve just bought your first home. After a long and expensive process, a tiring moving day, and a few days spent unpacking, you’re finally ready to settle in. Now it’s time to tackle those little issues you compromised on — after all, you had a budget to stick to. Some things are fixable. You’ll worry about them later.


Well, it’s later.


And those small issues can easily add up to a big dent in your wallet. Instead, take the proactive approach: before you start looking for that “perfect” home, consider these five house problems that will cost you a lot of dough once you’re all moved in.


1. Old or broken appliances

Most people want a move-in ready kitchen in their first home. Why? Kitchens are the most expensive room to remodel, averaging $21,660 according to Home Advisor. If a kitchen looks nice, it’s easy to think you’re good to go.


But take a closer look: if any appliances are on the fritz or starting to look dated, it could cost you. Even poorly installed appliances in a newly built home can create issues. The refrigerator, oven range, and dishwasher see some use every day — even if you’re not into cooking — so waiting to replace them is likely not an option.


Bottom line: A good quality new fridge will run you at least $1,200 and a new range runs from about $500 for bare bones to over $5,000 for top-of-the-line. Dishwashers cost significantly less, with the average coming in closer to $500.


2. Bare windows

If you’ve found the perfect house, windows lacking curtains or shades aren’t going to change your mind. And if you’re okay with cheapo shades, they won’t break the bank. But if you’re dreaming of frothy curtains, silky drapes, or wood shades, it’ll cost you.


If you’re thinking, “bare windows are free!” think again. Shades and curtains help your home retain heat, so naked windows will hike up your heating bill. Besides, who wants nosy neighbors peeking in?


Bottom line: High quality shades will run you at least $50 per window. Sturdy curtain rods average about $30 and decent curtains start at around $20 per panel. Custom shades and curtains can easily run into the hundreds per window, and most houses have somewhere around 12 windows. If you’re putting up mid-range window dressings in each window, you’ll spend about $1,000.


3. Ugly paint colors

Everyone knows paint is the easiest way to fix up a new home. We’re even told to overlook the color of a room when house shopping. Don’t get us wrong — that’s good advice. Paint colors should never stop you from making an offer on a house you love.


So, what’s the problem? Well, the cost for painting can add up fast. A room or two isn’t a big deal, but if you’ve got three bedrooms, two hallways, a bathroom, a kitchen, and a living room to paint, it won’t come cheap — especially if you’re planning to hire out the work.


Bottom line: A good quality gallon of paint is about $30, and you’ll also have to buy sandpaper, putty, primer, brushes and rollers, and plastic sheets. A 1,500 square foot house uses an average of 15 gallons — that’s $450 for paint alone. If you’ve got a lot to do, plan to spend $500 at the very least. If you bring in painters, it’ll cost you an average of $2,500.


4. Old or broken locks

Replacing the locks on your new house probably won’t even cross your mind until after you’ve closed. In fact, you might think the locks are just fine as-is. But even still, will you be comfortable knowing other people may have a key to your house? From the previous homeowner’s kids to long-term guests, any number of people could have copies of your house keys, so it’s always best to get new locks.


A simple new lock for the front and back doors won’t cost a fortune. But there’s more to consider: do you want smart locks? A ring-cam? How about a whole security system? You might need new garage door openers or locks on your shed to feel completely secure.


Bottom line: You can expect to pay $80 to $300 per lock for the basics, and the prices go up from there. If you have more than two doors to secure, that can quickly multiply. If you want a full security system, expect to pay a few hundred up front and a monthly monitoring fee somewhere around $40.


5. No air conditioning

It’s summer. It’s hot. Your mind wanders back to last winter when you bought your perfect new house thinking, “no air conditioning? No problem.” But now, with sweat trickling down your back, an electric fan just doesn’t cut it. You realize that if you want to be comfortable in your home, you’ll need to get that cold air flowing.


When it comes to air conditioning, you have options. Window units are certainly more affordable than having AC installed in your house, but central air will increase your home’s value. There’s a lot to consider here, and we’re not just blowing hot air.


Bottom line: Unless you like being a sticky mess, you’re going to need some sort of AC in your home. Window units start at about $150 and peak at about $600. Remember that you’ll need one in every room you want to keep cool. If you choose to install central air, expect to pay an average of $5,500 (but keep in mind it’ll increase the overall value of your home by up to 10 percent).

There you have it. Five seemingly minor house issues that may end up costing more than you think. Are these dealbreakers? No. But you should keep them in mind when you’re house-hunting and make a mental note of what you’ll be paying for later.


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