Are you saving enough money to keep up with home repairs?

carpenter working,hammer,meter and screw-driver on construction background

Times are hard for many people right now, and it can be hard to put cash aside for a rainy day.

But housing experts agree that sensible homeowners should budget 1% of the value of their property every year to pay for maintenance and property repair.

See also: Ten home maintenance myths

See also: Renovating? Should you add value or do what makes you happy?

And with the average house price in the UK being £215,847, that means we should have a home improvement and repair account to the tune of £2,158.47 per year.

However, a survey from rubber roofing specialists Rubber4Roofs has revealed that Brits aren't putting aside anywhere near enough.

On average, we're budgeting £1,438.98: a shortfall of £719. And it means that a fifth of us are forced to turn to a credit card when repairs are needed.

Some regions are doing even worse - particularly Greater London, with an average budget shortfall of £3,288. Close behind is the south-east of England, with a gap of £1,947.

The money-savviest region, in contrast, is the North East.

"It looks like Brits might have to start putting a little bit more away each month to ensure they're covered for unforeseen repairs," says Tom Cullingford, owner ofRubber4Roofs.

"There's nothing worse than the headache of a major housing issue, coupled with the headache of trying to find the money to pay for it."

It's for just this reason, says the firm, that more than half of home buyers prefer the security of a new build.

As for the repairs that give us the most grief, roofing tops the list, with over a quarter of people aware that it's usually a substantial cost.

This was closely followed by plumbing issues, with fixing foundations and removing mould also causing concern.

However, most people don't worry too much about electrical issues, and almost none worry about drain pipe repair.

It's worth keeping on top of repairs, though, says Adam Joseph, chief executive of The Happy Tenant Company.

"It is a false economy to leave a dripping tap or a loose roof tile. Six months later, these things can turn into much larger problems at much greater cost to repair," he says.

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Of course with all these things, the value it adds depends on the property you have to start with, and the kinds of improvements you make, but Which? estimates the cost of a new kitchen at £8,000 and HSBC calculates the added value to your property at £4,500 - which is a clear loss.

This has been done by 41% of people in the last three years, and 29% of people plan it in the next three. It's cheaper than a kitchen, and Which? estimates the cost at £3,000. This is roughly the same value that HSBC says it will add to your property - so you'll break-even.

This has been installed by 31% of us in the last three years, and 15% plan it in the next three. Installing central heating is a disruptive job, and according to WhatPrice it will cost you around £3,235. However, this is the first of the top ten to actually pay off. Property expert Phil Spencer says it will add £5,000 to the value.

Some 18% have added one in the last three years, and 30% will in the next three. This is another huge job, but with more people struggling to move and deciding to improve instead, it's increasingly popular. The amount it costs will depend on an enormous number of things, from the area you have to work with, to the size of the extension. However, assuming you add a single room you could spend around £20,000. HSBC estimates it will add around £15,500 to the value of the property, so you are unlikely to gain as much as you spend.

17% have done one of these in the last three years, and 20% will in the next three. This doesn't have to cost more than a couple of hundred pounds, but according to a survey from Halifax a few years ago it costs an average of £850 and adds almost £1,500 to the value. This is the second financial sound project in the list.

11% of us have knocked rooms through in the last three years and 8% will in the next three. If you're creating more usable space, then buyers won't mind you are reducing the number of rooms. If it's a supporting wall you can end up spending around £1,500, whereas a non-load-bearing wall should be doable in a day with a laborour and a plasterer for a couple of hundred pounds. It's unlikely to specifically add value though.

8% have put them in over the last three years, and 8% plan to in the next three. A solar panel costs about £6,500. It's definitely not going to add value to your property. However, it can pay off. With a feed-in-tariff you can save yourself £600 a year in heating, and can sell up to £450 back to the grid. The lifespan of the panel should be 20 years, so you'll break even after six and a half years and start making money. It's the third wise financial move here.

6% have done this in the last three years and 11% plan to in the next three. According to HSBC it adds the most value - at an average of £16,000. However, at a cost of £20,000 or more, it won't make you money.

4% of people have added one in the last three years and 7% plan to in the next three. As with a similar extension, you're likely to spend £20,000 and add £15,000 of value. So it only makes sense if your family is too big for the house.

2% have converted the cellar in the last three years, and 4% plan to in the next three. This is not a great way to see a return on your money - unless you live in the kind of area where you are absolutely out of any other options when it comes to making more space. It's not cheap - starting at £10,000 for simple waterproofing and finishing, to £50,000 for more intensive work. It will typically add £20,000 to the property.


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