10 most costly home repairs (and how to prevent them)

June 9, 2023

Learn preventative measures for the 10 most expensive home repairs so you can protect your savings and your sanity!

Replacing a roof - an expensive home repair 
Homeownership certainly comes with many benefits. It can provide financial stability through stabilized housing payments, tax incentives, and the opportunity to build and grow equity. However, when unexpected and costly repairs come up, it can leave even the happiest homeowner feeling like they’ve drawn the short end of the stick.

While major home repairs such as water heater replacement or electrical repairs can cost between $1,000-$2,000, some other repairs, such as fire restoration, can reach as high as $35,000, depending on the situation. No matter the surprise, unexpected costs like this could significantly impact any household’s monthly budget or long-term savings and leave them in an uncomfortable situation.

To help you avoid, or better prepare, for surprises, let’s discuss some of the most expensive home repairs that homeowners can face. We’ll also dive into how you can take preventative measures to save yourself from hefty repair costs and begin setting aside an adequate home maintenance budget.

1. Roof repair

Your roof is one of the most essential parts of your home as it protects most, if not all, of your property. While you most likely received an update on the state of your roof and the years of life it had left when purchasing, doing routine checks is still a good idea. Signs that your roof requires upkeep or repair include missing or damaged shingles, weakened chimney flashing, or hollow spots.

Complete roof replacements can cost between $6,700 and $80,000, with the average landing somewhere around $11,500. That's a big range, but for good reason: The cost of replacing your roof depends greatly on the materials you choose to use, the size of your roof, and the cost of labor in your area.  Minor roof repairs can cost between $300 and $1,700, and the average cost for major roof repairs can cost up to $8,000. Again, it depends on the type of repair needed, the cost of materials, and the cost of labor. 

To keep yourself on the more cost-effective end of the spectrum, look for signs of water damage or wear and tear from inside your home and don’t wait to repair it. You should also perform routine maintenance after intense weather storms and get annual inspections from a licensed professional.

Finally, it's important to periodically trim trees and branches back from your roof for several reasons. Limbs can cause serious damage to your roof (and other parts of your home) when broken off by wind or ice, but leaves and sticks can accumulate on your roof and gutters and cause water to accumulate and damage your roof, too. 

2. Foundation repair

Finding cracks in your home’s foundation can be concerning, but it’s vital not to ignore them. Water leaks, sinking, cracks, and even settling can be key signs of a major developing problem and are often some of the most expensive home repairs.

Depending on the issue you may be facing, foundation repairs can cost anywhere between $200 for minor cracks to $7,000 for more serious problems. Typically, the longer that you wait to fix the problem, the more expensive the repair becomes. Although the national average for foundation repair is $4,500, severe issues can cost as much as $15,000 or $20,000.

If you’ve had issues with cracks before or your home is aging, there are a few things you can do to prevent foundation issues. These include checking for leaks and cracks, keeping your foundation dry by installing grading that drains water away from your home, and even planting trees and shrubs away from your home because of their natural attraction to moisture. During times of severe, prolonged drought, there may be cause to actually introduce moisture to the ground around your foundation to prevent shrinkage.  

3. Electrical repair

If your electric panel or circuit breaker was recently replaced or newly placed, chances are, you don’t have too much to worry about, as these things typically only need to be replaced every 25 to 40 years.

However, if its life cycle is ending, it’s a good idea to start budgeting for this home repair, as circuit breaker boxes and electric panels can cost up to $1,800. Alternatively, if your home’s wiring is outdated or often causes trouble, you should also start budgeting for this, as rewiring an entire home can cost up to $30,000, depending on the size of your home and scope of the project. The average for a 2,000 square foot home runs around $9,800. 

To avoid footing such a huge bill, you’ll want to inspect your electrical system annually. Hire an licensed electrician to perform annual or regular maintenance. The cost of the inspection and maintenance will be far less than the cost of repair.

4. Septic system repair

There’s nothing quite as unsettling as a septic system failure. A clog or backup in the bathroom could lead to foul smells around your home and messy and smelly puddles in your front yard.

Sewage backups like this typically require immediate service by a plumber and can cost you up to $2,700 to repair a sewer line. While an entirely new septic tank can cost you close to $10,000.

To avoid such an uncomfortable home repair, make sure your septic tank is pumped every couple of years - usually 3 to 5. You’ll also want to have the tank inspected every three years or so, but potentially more frequently if you have a more complex system with pumps and electronic components.  

Additionally, if you have a septic system, it's important to be conscious of how you use it and what you put into it. Try to be conscious of the amount of water you use and install water-efficient toilets, faucets, and washing machines when possible. Do not flush anything that has not been specifically designed to be flushed in a septic system and do your best to strain your sink to prevent things like food and grease from finding their way into your system. 

5. HVAC replacement

If your HVAC system was outdated when you moved in, including an HVAC replacement in your home maintenance budget is wise. On average, HVAC systems last anywhere between 10 and 20 years. After that, even with the best upkeep, systems may cost more to keep up than to replace.

If you’re worried your HVAC system is coming to its end, then you’re probably wondering how much to save for home repairs of this nature. It really depends on a number of factors including the size of your home and the type of unit you want to purchase. In general, an HVAC replacement can cost anywhere between $5,000 and $12,500.

However, if you believe your HVAC system still has some time left in its lifecycle, and you’d like to get the most use out of it to avoid unnecessary home repair costs, there are some preventative measures you can take to maintain your HVAC system. These include changing out the filter every 3 months, removing any clutter from the immediate surrounding area (inside and outside) and scheduling HVAC preventative maintenance by trained professionals who can do deeper cleaning and inspections.

6. Water heater replacement

While some of these major home repairs will creep up on you, there’s nothing quite as jarring and “in-your-face” as the need for water heater repairs. The unexpected sting of cold water is hard to ignore, especially when you were expecting it to be warm!

You’ll feel the need for a water heater tune-up or replacement when you cannot get warm water running in your baths or sinks. You may also see the signs by hearing noises from the unit or experiencing foul-smelling water.

On average, water heater repairs can fall below $1,000, while replacements can cost around $1,200 but may be more depending on the type of system you want to install.

Like many things in your home, one of the main ways you can avoid taking on these home repair costs is by inspecting your water heater routinely. You can also spend time, once a year, draining 2-3 gallons of water out of your water heater depending on the size. This helps flush sediment that has accumulated over time, which can damage the heating element within the tank. 

7. Fire damage

While many of the major home repairs we've discussed here.

While you can expect to have to pay for some major repairs throughout your time owning a home, paying to repair damage from a fire is usually not something people plan for or anticipate. Still, fires both large and small happen all the time. According to the National Fire Protection Association, there are an average of 343,100 home fires a year in the United States.

When fires do occur, repairing fire damage is among some of the most expensive home repairs. Fortunately, homeowners insurance will provide payment (minus your deductible) to repair damage from most fire sources. Still, restoring rooms and repairing the damage from fire and smoke costs an average of $20,000 depending on how many rooms/parts of your home are affected. Of course, on the higher end it can cost as much as your entire home if the fire isn't extinguished in time. 

That's why it's so important to take all possible steps to prevent a fire of any kind from occurring. These include installing a sprinkler system, installing and regularly changing out the batteries for adequate smoke detectors, and purchasing fire extinguishers to keep on hand. Furthermore, being diligent with electrical repairs will go a long way to preventing fires. 

44% of home fires begin in the kitchen, so it is essential to be cautious when cooking, especially if you have a gas range, and remain in the kitchen to keep an eye on whatever you're making. 

Lastly, you should also regularly clean and maintain your dryer, as dryers can and do cause fires

8. Termite damage

Termite damage is one of the most surprising and costly home repairs because it can sometimes be hard to detect if you’re not quite sure what you’re looking for. While it can often resemble water damage, termite damage presents itself as hollowed-out or damaged wood, smells of mildew, or even bubbles in the paint on your walls.

If you catch it early, you may be able to repair termite damage for $250 to $1,000. In the midrange, you could be looking at $1,000 to $3,000. However, when addressed at a late stage, termite damage has been known to cost as much as $3,000 for minor repairs and up to $6,000 for major structural damage.

To prevent yourself from having to take on one the most expensive home repairs, it's a good idea to include termite inspection into your home maintenance cost. This will include budget for termite monitors and termite or pest inspectors to check your home annually. You’ll also want to move swiftly when termites are detected to better minimize damage and home repair costs.

You can also keep an eye out for signs that your sharing your home with these destructive pests, such as pinholes in your walls, mud tubes along your foundation, hollow-sounding walls, and flaking paint. 

9. Water damage

Like termite damage, water damage is another home repair that might sneak up on you if you’re not looking in the right places. Leaking or busted pipes can do more than spike your water bill. Water can seep into your walls and destroy flooring, causing significant damage to things like your electrical wiring, carpets, and sheetrock.

Water damage like this has been known, on average, to cost close to $3,500 but can get as high as $14,000–and that’s if mold hasn’t already set in. This is why, when it comes to water damage, similar to termite damage, you want to act quickly to minimize damage and cost as much as possible.

However, by including water damage prevention in your home maintenance budget, you can save yourself from dealing with major home repairs. Some preventative measures include cleaning your gutters, removing tree roots near utility pipes, and installing water detection devices. Additionally, make sure to thoroughly winterize your home during the winter to prevent pipes from cracking or bursting. 

10. Mold Remediation

Speaking of mold, the presence of green to black mold in your home can damage not just your savings when it comes to home repair costs but drastically affect your health as well. Mold has been known to cause minor effects such as a stuffy nose and wheezing while also causing more severe lung infections, primarily for immune-compromised people.

When mold is present in your home, the cost of mold remediation or mold removal can vary widely depending on the extent and location. A small problem, such as a little mold in your bathroom, may only cost $500 to $1,000. However, if it has infected a large portion of your drywall, it may cost anywhere from $1,000 to $12,000. Mold can also settle in your HVAC system and air ducts, meaning you would need to replace the entire system. If your entire home needs mold remediation, this could cost as much as $30,000. 

However, there are ways to prevent this from happening. To prevent mold, it’s essential to take care of water damage as soon as it occurs, use dehumidifiers in damp areas of your home, and routinely use mold-killing cleaning products when possible.

Perform Routine Maintenance

Most homeowners only request home inspections during their home-buying process. However, due to the normal wear and tear of homes and the surprise expenses that can come up when not monitored, it’s crucial to perform routine maintenance before your purchase and every year after it.

Homeowners insurance helps with many major causes of loss to your home, such as fires, hail, and wind storms. It can often cover certain types of water damage, such as sudden, accidental water damage, water damage from rain, and in some cases, hidden water damage. Mold remediation for mold damage caused by a covered loss can also be covered up to a certain limit in some cases.

However, homeowners insurance policies do not include things like foundation replacement, HVAC repair, water heater replacement, termite damage and removal, or preventable damage caused by lack of maintenance and upkeep. It is important to speak to your agent to get a solid understanding of what your policy does and does not cover, but it's also essential to perform regular, preventative maintenance and inspections.  

So to avoid these major home repairs, save yourself the headache and the expense by including routine maintenance in your home maintenance costs!

Replacing a roof - an expensive home repair

For more information about Germania's insurance products, request a free quote online or reach out to your local Germania Authorized Agent today!

by Geoff Ullrich

About the Author

Geoff Ullrich is a writer and Content Marketing Strategist at Germania Insurance.

What do you want to read more about? For suggestions, questions, or content-related inquiries, contact us at content@germaniainsurance.com!

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