By, Julian Lane 

There is never a convenient time for a homeowner to experience an unexpected repair.  By formulating a plan in advance, you can take surprises in stride without a lot of strife.  Here’s how you can be ready when your home is in need of mending.

Save for a rainy day 

Having money set aside is your most financially-wise choice for covering home repairs, but how much should you save?  Some research indicates homeowners spent an average of $2,970 on home improvements in 2015, and if you’re trying to scrape together thousands of dollars in a pinch, life can feel pretty stressful.  With that in mind, Realtor recommends setting aside between 1 and 3 percent of your home’s value in an emergency fund.  In other words, if your home is worth $200,000, you should save between $2,000 and $6,000 for your cushion.

Plan ‘B’

Some issues arise before we have time to set aside money.  Maybe you just had a run of repairs and are out of savings, or you’re a new homeowner without extra reserves.  Whatever the situation, you still have options.  If your home has equity, a cash out refinance is a possibility.  In this case, your current mortgage would be exchanged for a new one, covering the old mortgage plus your new loan amount.  You would receive the equity amount in cash. 

Another potential solution is to reach out to family and friends for help, or use a credit card.  Unfortunately, credit cards often have high interest rates, and loans from people you know often come with other sorts of strings attached.  If you have no better options, some credit cards are better suited to home repairs than others, with special advantages for use at certain retailers as well as promotional savings advantages.  If you elect to get help from those you know, some people have success with crowdfunding, rather than asking individuals.  Weigh your options carefully so you can determine what’s best in your circumstances.

Connecting With Contractors

Once you pool funds, the last thing you want to do is spend your money on poor-quality workmanship – or worse, have someone run off with your money without fixing a thing.  Searching out a contractor can sound simple, but unfortunately, there are several scam artists out there.  Be alert to anyone who wants a significant payment up front, uses scare tactics to pressure you into work, or won’t commit to a bid or estimate in writing. 

For best results when hiring a contractor, one suggestion is to get recommendations from people you know, and interview each potential contractor you’re considering.  Have a list ready of the work you want completed so you don’t get sidetracked by smooth talkers, and think about who you feel comfortable talking with and how professionally they present themselves.  If you don’t feel like you can communicate with someone before work begins, communication could be an issue throughout the process, so weigh your options carefully. 

What will it cost?

There are a lot of factors which can weigh into how much a home repair will run.  For instance, some key factors are where you live, the materials involved, and whether a contractor or handyman is completing the work.  A handyman is acceptable for smaller, less-skilled projects, and will cost you less than a contractor.  To give you a general idea on some common projects, you can review this guide. 

Next time you have a home repair project, make sure you’re ready.  Save for a rainy day, have a plan B, and know how to find quality a repairman.  You can’t prevent things from breaking or wearing out, but you can be prepared when they do. 

This content is not the product of the National Association of REALTORS®, and may not reflect NAR's viewpoint or position on these topics and NAR does not verify the accuracy of the content.