4 Home Features That Seem Nice but Can Cost You Lots of Money

by Maurie Backman | Published on Aug. 19, 2021

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A family playing in a backyard pool surrounded by green bushes and trees.

Image source: Getty Images

Be careful -- you might struggle to keep up with your expenses if your home comes with one of these features.

If you're looking to buy a home, you may want that property to meet certain criteria. Perhaps you want a specific number of bedrooms, a minimum number of bathrooms, or other enhancements, like an open floor plan.

But be careful: Certain home features that seem nice to have may, in fact, cost you a lot of money -- money you'll need to shell out on top of your monthly mortgage payments. Here are a few to keep on your radar.

1. Two-story rooms

One of the things that prompted my husband and me to buy our current home was its two-story living room. We loved the way it made our main floor look so open. Fast-forward more than 10 years, and I can tell you that while those super-high ceilings may look nice, our downstairs is a nightmare to heat because of this feature.

Since heat rises, those of us sitting on the couch don't get much of the warmth, and so we have to pump up our heat to stay warm. The result? Very expensive bills.

2. Oversized windows

Another feature of our home that we really liked when we bought it is our oversized windows. We have them in our living room and above our front door, and they let in a ton of natural light. Plus, they look really nice and unique.

The problem, though, is that it can cost a lot of money to cover oversized windows with blinds or shades, since those generally need to be custom-made. In fact, while we paid about $150 per window to put shades on our regular windows, we were, back in the day, quoted $600 for our oversized windows. And if you don't cover those larger windows, they can let in a lot of heat in the summer, making your air conditioning bills more expensive.

3. A pool

Though our house doesn't have a pool, our neighbors have one, and trust me when I say that they spend countless hours, and lots of money, keeping that pool in working order. In fact, HomeGuide estimates that it costs $960 to $1,800 a year, on average, to maintain a pool, but that figure only covers things like chlorine and cleanings. When you factor in water and electricity, the average yearly cost to own a pool is $3,000 to $5,000.

Now, where I live, it can easily cost many thousands of dollars per child for eight weeks of summer camp, so if you have multiple kids, a pool can be a good investment. But if you're going to buy a home with a pool, make sure you'll really get good use out of it -- especially if you live in an area where a pool is only usable a few months out of the year due to the climate.

4. A wooden deck

Many people prefer the look of natural wood to wood-like products for backyard decks. My husband and I felt similarly when we had ours put in. But now, we realize how expensive it is to maintain a wooden deck.

Not only do we have to rent a pressure washer each year to clean our deck, but we also have to sand and restain or paint it every other year. If we do the work ourselves, annual maintenance can be just a few hundred dollars, but sanding and painting the deck can be a multi-day job that's weather-dependent, and we can't always fit it into our schedules since we work full-time during the week. When we need to outsource the work, it can easily top $1,000 per year.

Prepare for maintenance costs

No matter what type of home you buy, you'll need to factor the cost of upkeep into your budget. But you should also know that certain features may cost more to maintain than others. Keep these on your radar so you're not caught off guard.

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