Making the transition from renting to owning can come with a great sense of pride - as well as new responsibility. Owning your own home will mean maintenance and repairs will fall on you; though they will be less frequent when you buy new.
That being said, here's what you can expect while maintaining a new single family home versus a condo property.
Maintaining a Single Family Home
With a new home comes greater freedom, independence, and space, but the maintenance will be your responsibility. A house is usually a better choice for a buyer who wants greater control over the design of their home and is comfortable doing maintenance and repairs that come up over time.
Even though your maintenance costs are lower during the first few years of home ownership, it's a good idea to begin budgeting and planning ahead. According to CMHC, a good rule of thumb is setting aside 1-3% of the home's value every year for maintenance. This means you should expect maintenance costs of $3,000 to $9,000 per year for a $300,000 home. That's not to say you'll spend $3,000 a year to maintain your home! It only means that over the course of a decade or more, this is the average annual cost of maintenance.
Your maintenance costs will also be dependant on whether you purchase a new home or a resale. New construction builds now come with a comprehensive home warranty, and homes built within the last 5-10 years are likely to require little maintenance. However, a 20-30-year-old home will likely need major repairs to larger components such as the roof or plumbing.
To help you budget for keeping your home in great condition, here are common maintenance costs you can expect during the first few years:
- HVAC maintenance - your filters should be changed regularly and you'll want to schedule a tune-up annually to keep your HVAC system running smoothly. If your home has a fireplace, preventative flue cleaning is also important.
- Lawn care and landscaping - landscaping and lawn care costs can add up quickly, especially if you hire someone to do the work. Along with the equipment, you'll need like a lawnmower and trimmer, don't forget to consider the cost of weed treatments, plants, mulch, and fencing.
- Gutter cleaning
- Pest control treatments
- Snow removal
- Routine indoor and outdoor cleaning, including cleaning the dryer vents and removing any debris from the roof
Home Maintenance with a Condo
Whether you buy an apartment condo, townhome or duplex, you are buying the unit itself, not the land or building. In exchange for paying monthly condo fees, most of the maintenance is taken care of for you. What's included in the condo fee depends on the development, but you can expect snow removal, trash removal, landscaping, and exterior home maintenance to be covered.
Your main responsibilities as a condo owner include repairing and maintaining your individual unit, paying your condo fees, property taxes, and property insurance. It will be the condo association's responsibility to maintain, repair, and care for common areas like the building exterior, interior, and landscaping and contract with service workers for maintenance, repairs, and other services.
If you're not big on making home repairs, mowing the lawn, and landscaping, a condo may be right for you. You’ll also benefit from a fixed monthly maintenance cost rather than trying to budget for repairs and setting aside money on your own. As a new homeowner, this can be great for your peace of mind and make your monthly expenses more predictable.
Houses and condos both have their own advantages, and one of the biggest differences is the amount of maintenance you'll be responsible for as an owner. If you love the personalization, space, and privacy that comes with a home, then the trade-off is higher and more unpredictable maintenance costs, over time. Condo owners share the cost for most maintenance and repairs for the common areas and amenities for less worry, fewer surprises, and less time spent on household chores.