If You're Not Handy, You Must Do This Before Buying a House

by Maurie Backman | Published on Sept. 25, 2021

Many or all of the products here are from our partners that pay us a commission. It’s how we make money. But our editorial integrity ensures our experts’ opinions aren’t influenced by compensation. Terms may apply to offers listed on this page.
Young couple inspecting drawers with toolbox sitting nearby

Image source: Getty Images

This move is essential for all home buyers -- especially for those who aren't well equipped to tackle home repairs.

When my husband and I bought our newly built home a little over a decade ago, we assumed that in exchange for paying more money for our house and having a higher mortgage, we'd benefit from not having to make many repairs early on. And for the most part, we were right. During those first few years in our home, we didn't have to spend much on repairs.

But that changed over time. These days, it's not uncommon for us to spend hundreds of dollars in a given month to fix something that's broken -- and that's for a house that's still relatively new.

If you're looking to buy a home, be prepared to tackle your share of repairs. And if you're not the type who can comfortably handle fixing things, it's important to set money aside to pay someone else to tackle them for you.

A solid emergency fund is crucial

Even if you're the handiest person out there, it's important to go into homeownership with a healthy emergency fund. Ideally, you should have enough money in savings to pay for three to six months of essential bills.

But if you're not handy at all, then a robust emergency fund is especially crucial. That's because outsourcing every repair that comes your way could get very expensive, and you'll need money on hand to pay for those issues when they inevitably arise.

Even if you get lucky and your home doesn't require a lot of repairs through the years, you'll still need to maintain your property. And if you're not handy enough to do that, you'll need money to pay others to do it for you.

Now I happen to be the opposite of handy, but my husband, thankfully, knows his way around a toolbox. And through the years, we've saved thousands by not having to pay for certain maintenance items or repairs.

Recently, a pipe burst in our basement. We called a plumber to get an estimate on how much a fix would cost and were told it would be $200 just for someone to come out to our home and assess the situation.

My husband instead dropped what he was doing, went to the hardware store, and was able to repair our piping after having spent $100 on supplies. Had we gone with a professional, we would've spent twice as much money just to have someone walk through the door to look at the problem -- plus the cost of the repair work itself.

This is just one example, but the point is that if you're not comfortable doing home maintenance or repairs, it's a good idea to beef up your emergency fund before you buy a place of your own. The good news is that the longer you own a home, the more experience dealing with maintenance and repairs you're apt to get. So in time, you may not have to outsource every task. But until you reach that point, having extra money in a savings account is a smart thing to do.

About the Author