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Maintenance and repairs are part of owning a home, but they can put a real stress on your finances. And if you’re totally unprepared when a major repair is needed, it can be extra stressful. That’s why planning for the unexpected is so important. If you’re a homeowner, this article will help you financially prepare for major repairs, as well as offer advice on choosing a contractor and storing valuable items while your home is being repaired.

Paying with an Emergency Fund

Whether you need a roof replacement, a foundation repair, a new water heater, or any other kind of home improvement completed, it will save you a lot of headaches if you have money set aside. This is where an emergency repair fund comes in, which is basically a savings fund that maintain for your home. Each month, contribute 10 percent of your mortgage payment to the emergency fund. For instance, if your mortgage is $850, you would set aside $85 a month for unexpected repairs. Over time, your fund will build up to provide you some cushion and peace of mind.

If a major repair comes up before your fund is built up, there are other ways to pay without racking up credit card debt. If you’re comfortable with asking a friend or family member to borrow the money, for example, you could pay it back over time with no interest. Another option to consider is taking out a home improvement loan, which are typically pretty easy to apply for online; many loans also charge less than 5 percent interest, which is much cheaper than using a credit card.

Choosing a Contractor

One of the most important aspects in having major repair work done to your home is who you have do it. If you’re not careful, you can end up with a contractor who does shoddy work, overcharges you, or both. Get referrals from people you know, and interview three or four different contractors. If you want to be extra thorough, visit one of their job sites to see how they do their work.

Also, check each candidate’s licensing and experience. Then you’re ready to get job quotes, compare prices (including labor and materials), and choose the best contractor for your budget. Once you’ve chosen a contractor, be sure to discuss a payment schedule and put the contract in writing. The contract should clarify issues like liability, worker’s compensation, specific materials needed, and so on.

Putting Valuables in Storage

Anytime you have major work done on your home, you can expect an excess of dust and other debris. Even if your contractor cleans up each day, it’s best not to have any of your most valuable belongings and furniture in the home. To protect these items, consider putting them in a self-storage unit until the project is finished. And always look for the best value, as many storage companies have sign-up deals. For instance, EZ Storage in Salt Lake City is currently offering a 50 percent discount for the first month. Even if you find a good deal on storage, it’s still important to factor it into your financial plan.

Being prepared is the key to keeping stress levels down when a major home repair comes up. Be sure to interview multiple candidates and weigh your options when picking out a contractor. Look into self-storage for protecting items like valuables and furniture while your repair projects are underway. And start building your emergency fund today, and explore other low-interest methods of payment if necessary. You may never be fully prepared for every major repair project, but you can put yourself in a better position by doing a little planning.

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