It’s a corollary of Murphy’s law: When you are least able to afford a major expense (or when repairmen are busiest), something big is bound to break down. That’s why housing experts recommend that you save 1% of the purchase price of your home annually (or $2,000 for a $200,000 home) for maintenance and repairs.
If you have a major home component that needs an expensive repair, consider replacing it — especially if it’s near the end of its estimated life. Even better, take preventive action before a breakdown turns into an emergency (take our quiz to find out how much you know about the life expectancy of major household items). Also refer to the home-inspection report you obtained when you bought your home, which may offer more specific guidance.
The replacement costs cited below for six key components of your home are national averages from homewyse.com. They include the cost of mid-grade materials and labor for installation. Your actual costs will vary with the quality and energy efficiency of the materials you choose, as well as your location, the time of year, and the size and scope of the work. But you won’t know what you’ll really have to pay until you obtain bids — preferably three — from qualified and licensed local contractors (don’t ignore those who work for home-improvement stores, such as Home Depot and Lowe’s). One good sign is if the manufacturer has approved the contractor or store for the products that it installs.
You will probably need a building permit and inspection to take on these projects, depending on your local regulations. A good contractor will handle that for you, as well as dispose of debris, old equipment and hazardous material (such as asbestos or refrigerant).
Note: Total cost is for a 2,000-square-foot home or to install a single unit.