One of those all-important New Year resolutions might well have been a determination to protect, maintain, and run your home in the most efficient and effective manner – without paying more than you need to.
So, here are four tips on doing just that by putting your house in order in the year ahead.
Have a maintenance fund
One area where you can combine your twin objectives of maintaining your home in physical shape while also keeping your finances in good order is by setting up and managing a purpose-designed maintenance fund.
You know that you will need to carry out routine repairs and maintenance on your home to keep it windproof, watertight, and looking good. The problem is that some home repairs are likely to come unexpectedly – when something fails, breaks, or goes wrong when you least expect it.
By setting up a home maintenance fund or separate bank account exclusively for maintenance and repairs, you will stay one step ahead, be always prepared, and won’t let any passing emergency disrupt other essential expenditure.
How much needs to be in your maintenance fund varies, of course, according to the property involved and your individual circumstances. By way of illustration, a posting by London’s Southwark Council on the 21st of February 2022 suggested that the average homeowner needs to put aside between 1% and 4% of the value of their home for annual repairs and maintenance.
Whether you own your home or are the landlord of buy to let property, the cost of certain unexpected or emergency repairs – as the result of damage from an escape of water, for example – may be covered by your home insurance or landlord insurance policy. Provided that the policy is valid and up to date, of course.
So, part of getting your house in financial order must include a review of your home insurance or landlord insurance policy to make sure that it continues to provide all the protection you and your property need.
This is unlikely to be a question of cost alone but may include aspects of cover that you now need but didn’t before, or elements that were not previously relevant but have become so now. For example, you may have:
- bought a high-value item that needs an individual listing under your home insurance policy; or
- had an extension built or had the place modernised and refurbished – this added value needs to be factored into your buildings, and contents sums insured.
Of course, if you have any questions regarding your property insurance, please feel free to telephone us on 01702 606 301 – and we’d be delighted to help.
Utilities and other regular expenditure
Among the most regular payments you are likely to be making each month are those for utilities such as gas and electricity, but also your water, broadband, and entertainment packages.
Whatever sums you are paying they all mount up and you need to ensure you are paying no more than you need to. Exceptionally – and at least until March 2023 – you will want to check to make sure that your energy bills are properly discounted in accordance with the government’s Energy Price Guarantee.
Check, too, whether you are paying too much Council Tax if your home has been wrongly banded. Mistakes such as that are made in the case of hundreds of thousands of homes declared the Money Saving Expert on the 3rd of January 2023 – yet it will only take you 10 minutes or so to check whether you are in the correct Council Tax band.
As far as your gas and electricity, broadband, and TV packages are concerned, then several online utility comparison websites can help you compare deals and make any switch you consider necessary.
Finally, if your property is mortgaged, check that you are still getting the most suitable and cost-effective solution for you. In some cases – and with professional advice – it may be prudent to switch mortgage providers or products.
With the recent increase in interest rates, you may be in for a nasty shock if you are coming to the end of any fixed-rate deal. According to the Office for National Statistics (ONS) on the 9th of January 2023, mortgage deals that enjoyed a fixed rate of interest of just 2% when they started are currently offered at an average of 6% – a significant increase.
These four tips for getting your house in order will help you check that you are still getting the most appropriate products for your own unique needs and financial circumstances – and may help you save some money too.
Please note that the information within this article is designed for guidance purposes only and should not be construed as legal or financial advice.