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Homeowners forced to use savings, credit cards and loans to cover maintenance costs

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In our latest research we’ve found that the majority of UK homeowners spend between £500 to £1,500 a year on household maintenance, with many failing to prepare for these unforeseen costs and instead having to use savings, credit cards and loans to cover the cost.

Unexpected Property Maintenance Costs

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Most common maintenance issues

The research we commissioned this week found that general DIY was the most common maintenance issue within the household (38%), with gas or boiler issues causing the next biggest headache (20%). Electrical issues were also an issue (15%), as were issues with roofing (15%), although problems posed by nature such as knotweed or woodworm were less prominent (8%).

Which of the following maintenance issues have you had within your property? 

General DIY

38%

Gas/boiler

24%

Electrical

15%

Roof

15%

Natural - knotweed, rats, mice, squirrels, wasps, woodworm etc

8%

How do we pay for unexpected maintenance costs?

However, despite these ongoing maintenance issues just 17% of homeowners stated they had a specific savings pot to cover the costs. 63% stated they had to rely on their general savings, while 21% had no savings or plan in place to address home maintenance issues.

Do you contribute regularly towards saving/budgeting for home maintenance?

No, but I have general savings

63%

No savings or plan in place

21%

Yes, I have specific savings for home maintenance

17%

This lack of specific saving is quite alarming given the fact that:

  • 36% said they spent between £501 and £1,000 on home maintenance each year
  • A further 30% spent £500 or less
  • Leaving 18% forking out between £1,001 and £1,500

What would homeowners do with a major expense of more than £5,000?

We also asked what homeowners would do in the event of an unexpected significant maintenance cost of £5,000 or more. Again, 62% would remain reliant on their general savings pot, with 20% stating they would have to turn to credit cards or loans to get by.

11% would be forced to think of a temporary fix until they could save enough money, with 7% stating they would have to rely on family or friends to lend them the money.

What would you do if you were faced with an unexpected significant cost (e.g. £5,000) for home maintenance?

Use my savings

62%

Use loan or credit cards

20%

Temporary fix until I can afford the proper fix

11%

Borrow money from friends/family

7%

Do nothing

1%

Insights & Analysis

How much should we budget for maintenance costs?

Many of us simply don’t consider the sizeable cost of maintaining a home when we look to purchase and as a general rule of thumb, budgeting 1% of your property’s value on an annual basis should keep you covered in all but the most extreme of cases.

Unfortunately, many of us fail to do so and when the unexpected does happen, we’re forced to turn to our savings, credit cards, loans and even family members to make ends meet.

Maintenance costs when selling your home

Home maintenance can be particularly costly when looking to sell, as not only does it dent profit margins, but it can also cause delays to your preferred selling timeline.

In some instances, the work carried out may not hold the same value in the eyes of a buyer and so it can be better to go to market with a ‘fixer upper’. Whether it’s via the traditional sales route, or via a quick sale platform, you should be able to sell for a fair price once any additional work has been accounted for and it could save you time and money in the long run.

"

Most common maintenance issues

The research we commissioned this week found that general DIY was the most common maintenance issue within the household (38%), with gas or boiler issues causing the next biggest headache (20%). Electrical issues were also an issue (15%), as were issues with roofing (15%), although problems posed by nature such as knotweed or woodworm were less prominent (8%).

Which of the following maintenance issues have you had within your property? 

General DIY

38%

Gas/boiler

24%

Electrical

15%

Roof

15%

Natural - knotweed, rats, mice, squirrels, wasps, woodworm etc

8%

How do we pay for unexpected maintenance costs?

However, despite these ongoing maintenance issues just 17% of homeowners stated they had a specific savings pot to cover the costs. 63% stated they had to rely on their general savings, while 21% had no savings or plan in place to address home maintenance issues.

Do you contribute regularly towards saving/budgeting for home maintenance?

No, but I have general savings

63%

No savings or plan in place

21%

Yes, I have specific savings for home maintenance

17%

This lack of specific saving is quite alarming given the fact that:

  • 36% said they spent between £501 and £1,000 on home maintenance each year
  • A further 30% spent £500 or less
  • Leaving 18% forking out between £1,001 and £1,500

What would homeowners do with a major expense of more than £5,000?

We also asked what homeowners would do in the event of an unexpected significant maintenance cost of £5,000 or more. Again, 62% would remain reliant on their general savings pot, with 20% stating they would have to turn to credit cards or loans to get by.

11% would be forced to think of a temporary fix until they could save enough money, with 7% stating they would have to rely on family or friends to lend them the money.

What would you do if you were faced with an unexpected significant cost (e.g. £5,000) for home maintenance?

Use my savings

62%

Use loan or credit cards

20%

Temporary fix until I can afford the proper fix

11%

Borrow money from friends/family

7%

Do nothing

1%

Insights & Analysis

How much should we budget for maintenance costs?

Many of us simply don’t consider the sizeable cost of maintaining a home when we look to purchase and as a general rule of thumb, budgeting 1% of your property’s value on an annual basis should keep you covered in all but the most extreme of cases.

Unfortunately, many of us fail to do so and when the unexpected does happen, we’re forced to turn to our savings, credit cards, loans and even family members to make ends meet.

Maintenance costs when selling your home

Home maintenance can be particularly costly when looking to sell, as not only does it dent profit margins, but it can also cause delays to your preferred selling timeline.

In some instances, the work carried out may not hold the same value in the eyes of a buyer and so it can be better to go to market with a ‘fixer upper’. Whether it’s via the traditional sales route, or via a quick sale platform, you should be able to sell for a fair price once any additional work has been accounted for and it could save you time and money in the long run.

See data & sources

Survey of 1,927 UK homeowners carried out by Yes Homebuyers via consumer research platform Find Out Now (25th June 2021).

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