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Costs of maintaining a small house

(12 Posts)
MrsSteptoe Mon 03-Feb-14 09:58:50

Please forgive the rather wide nature of this question.

We currently live in a small 2-bed flat in a 1960s block. We pay roughly £250/month in service charges, including the sinking fund for extraordinary expenditure when required (most often internal/external decs). The s/c covers building maintenance, buildings insurance, lift maintenance and insurance, common area cleaning etc., but we pay for utilities (hot water, central heating, water rates etc.) separately.

We would like to move to a small house within the next couple of years, and as part of our calculations - other changes are taking place as well, so there's lots of other financial changes we've got to think about that I don't want to waste your time with in this post - it would be really helpful to have an idea of what it costs to maintain a house.

OK, I know it's a question that admits of a wide variety of answers! - but assuming a small 3-bed Edwardian house or later with a reasonable survey, can anyone give me a rough idea what they think they might spend over the period of, say, a few years in looking after their bricks and mortar, and the type of things that come up? Just to reiterate, I'm looking for costs of maintenance of the actual building, not utility bills etc. I've thought of buildings insurance, roofing maintenance, keeping the paintwork up to scratch on external joinery, repointing, having to replace boilers every so often, errr ... anything obvious I'm missing?

What are we going to be letting ourselves in?

Thanks for your thoughts.

Putthatbookdown Mon 03-Feb-14 11:32:14

The service charges you pay are quite high However I assume for that you are getting a well-maintained property? Houses are most definately better than flats -they go up faster in value so I would try to get a house The thing is a house is usually freehold so you decide when and if you do the work yourself whereas a flat is usually leasehold Currently you are paying for lifts etc which is bumping up your costs so get out if you can as you are paying for things you do not need. Try to go for a modern house if you are scared of the work entailed as these usually need less work (though the standard of buidling is not as high as in the past) You will need a full survey and you ca n also ask the vendor what their outgoing were Maintenance does not come cheap It will c �1000 if they have to overhaul your roof I would budget �1000 a year but so much depends on the property you buy

littleredsquirrel Mon 03-Feb-14 11:37:23

I think your question entirely depends on the property you buy I'm afraid and its not something you will really know the answer to until you've had a survey done on a property. You could live in a house for your whole life and never need a new roof or you could find you have a leak three weeks after moving in. The key is knowing as much as you can about the house you want to buy.

Over the past twelve months we have had two lots of gate repairs, we have a pothole in our driveway that is going to need sorting out, we had a plumbing issue that needed sorting we have a very small leak in the roof but it is just a missing tile so nothing major, we needed the guttering replacing in one area. Coming twelve months we are going to have to take out some large trees and repaint the house. You can see its impossible to say. BUT if you put away £150 or so each month then you'll have a pot to ease the pain once the bills come in

MrsSteptoe Mon 03-Feb-14 12:08:32

Thanks so much for replying, squirrel and book. Yes, our s/cs are quite high - we are unfortunately bound to a management agency and cannot buy our freehold as the block has a high proportion of commercial property (in other words, shops on the ground floor) - at least, I think that was the reason. I know it's been looked into in the past.

I think the general message I'm getting from your two posts is that given a house in fair nick, we can possibly expect to spend a little less than we are doing currently, but not massively less. Obviously, expenditure would come in fits and starts, but it sounds like we should prudently budget for a minimum of £150 a month.

Good to know that we're not being completely unrealistic and it won't cost more, though, as our utility bills and council tax will definitely go up. And, of course, it's our prerogative to let the house go to rack and ruin if we so choose, which isn't a luxury we've got at the moment. (We won't! Madness!)

Madmog Mon 03-Feb-14 14:40:29

As said, it varies so much. Also, some things are essential and others are done because you think they'll be beneficial. We've had our 1950's house for 14 years. We choose to have a upvc fascia board on moving in and the drive partly changed, and on top of that there's money you spend on plants you might like.

Essential things we've had done:

Re-pointing and the chimney and small part of house wall. The chap said he didn't need scaffolding, so that cost £300.
Replacement fence panels (they often go along one side) approx. £400 Gutters cleaned out three times, luckily worked off roof ladders reducing the price and this amounted to approx. £200.
Had a tree removed as it was dying, cost approx. £200

Think our costs have been low, but anticipate they will be higher over next few years as we'll have to have a garden brick wall re-built and anticipate at some stage there will be roof works/new roof.

MrsSteptoe Mon 03-Feb-14 15:46:50

thanks, Madmog, again very useful.

CanadianJohn Mon 03-Feb-14 18:21:25

You can also approach this question from the opposite direction... please note, I am speaking from a Canadian perspective, and building techniques are radically different here.

You know the boiler/heating system won't last forever... you could find out the average lifespan, the cost, and the age of your system, to determine how much you should save annually against future replacement.

Unfortunately, there are so many things, as others have said, that it is impossible to budget for. Copper plumbing will probably last for the life of the house, but... well, plumbers are pretty busy.

One thing you should be aware of is the cost of exterior work... gardening, landscaping, etc. Also, owners (as opposed to renters/lessors) are more likely to make improvements to the property.

MrsSteptoe Mon 03-Feb-14 19:43:20

Indeed, CanadianJohn, that's a useful way of thinking about things. I've owned flats, either in conversions or blocks, for 25 years now so I don't feel totally naive about it all - it won't be my first new boiler! - but buying a house does slightly give me the jitters in case I'm taking on too much, so all these comments are terribly welcome as it's all pretty much in line with what I thought but with a few extra things thrown in that I can add to my list!
Personally, I'd like to keep a pretty healthy maintenance fund going because I've watched my sister's house descend into absolute rack and ruin because she never does any maintenance at all... heartbreaking!

InsertUsernameHere Tue 04-Feb-14 07:52:56

Other things that pop in to my head are window cleaning (I presume that is part of your current contact) gutter cleaning (ridiculously important) and garden maintenence (which you can spend as much it as little as you want).

MrsSteptoe Tue 04-Feb-14 08:31:12

Husband has already mentioned his willingness for gutter cleaning duties. We'll see how well that goes in the event, given that he's none too keen on heights hmm
Thanks, UserName!

treesntrees Tue 04-Feb-14 19:49:56

In my previous four bed Edwardian terrace I know I spent an average of £2,000 per year in modernising and repairing over a thirty year period. This included professional decorating and floor and window coverings but not things like window cleaning and cleaning out gutters and down pipes or house insurance. It also included 2 x £1000 excess for underpinning x 2. Other costs like utilities depend on your personal lifestyle. I have these facts because I kept all receipts which came in handy when my ex who had never lived there was demanding half of selling price. If it helps I was a single parent of several children in a low paid job.

MrsSteptoe Tue 04-Feb-14 20:59:45

Golly, hopefully we'll avoid one that needs two grand a year. Would much prefer one that we can move into, not one that needs modernisation. It's a nice idea, and we both like to think we're creative and imaginative and have great style... but the reality is, we're shit at it. Not bad taste, but no spatial sense whatsoever, and neither of us can stand up to builders for toffee. Hope you kicked the ex into touch, treesntrees.

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