If you’re a new homeowner, you might be surprised at how quickly the home repair bills can start adding up. Some people never even consider setting aside a monthly budget for problems around the house, but the fact of the matter is that you don’t have a landlord you can call anymore if something breaks. There are a few ways, however, that you can keep home repair costs fairly low.

Pick up a hammer

By far, you’ll spend more on labor than you will on materials for most home repairs. This is especially true when you need someone with licensing, not just a general handyman – plumbers, electricians, and other certified contractors charge a lot of money to come out to your house and make repairs. Pick up that hammer yourself and learn how to fix some of the most common problems around your home. There are certain issues you should leave to the professionals; after all, you don’t want to cause more problems than you solve. However, simple problems around the house like leaky faucets, holes in your drywall, and perpetually running toilets can often be fixed with minimal time and effort. What would cost you hundreds of dollars can be fixed for until $20 in some cases, as long as you’re willing to do the work yourself.

If you aren’t confident in your skills, hire a contractor, but offer to pitch in to get the job done. When a contractor doesn’t have to bring an extra person along to complete the job, they’ll be less expensive. You can learn a lot from handymen, and by spending some time putting work into your home, you’ll soon learn how to make many small repairs on your own. Don’t forget that you can also head to your local home improvement store to check out if there are any free classes available. You’ll be amazed at how many stores offer lessons on tiling, wallpapering, using power tools, and more.
Maintain your home

Many home repairs are needed simply because the homeowner didn’t do a very good job with simple maintenance. If you keep your home clean and take care of little problems from the start, you’ll avoid major issues that could end up really running up the bill with your contractor. For example, if you keep your gutters clean by removing debris once or twice a year, it won’t have a chance to back up. The time commitment for this job is minimal. On the other hand, if you don’t maintain your gutters, the water could start flowing into the walls of your home, costing thousands of dollars in water damage, mold problems, and more. Spend at least one day a week cleaning and one day a month checking over your home for basic maintenance problems.

Avoid hiring contractors for weekend jobs

Again, labor will account for most of your cost if you have to hire a contractor to make a repair. That labor cost will skyrocket if you need the problem fixed on a weekend. Some home repairs just can’t wait. For example, if your upstairs bathroom is flooding and causing water damage to the level below, you probably want to call a plumber, even if it is a Sunday. However, if you can avoid hiring people for weekend work, do so. Many times, the problem can wait until Monday with little inconvenience to your family.

Purchase the materials yourself

Along with labor, some of the cost of the project will go into materials. Most contractors will offer to purchase whatever you need for the job, but keep in mind that they may not be making the most cost-efficient choices. They could also mark up the price of the materials, and many do since it is an extra convenience for you that they are providing them. For any repair, ask for a quote for just the labor as well as a quote for labor plus materials. You might be able to save a lot of money by picking up the materials at your local home improvement store yourself – just be sure to have your contractor write down exactly what you need, including sizes and measurements.

Be loyal to one contractor

The world of home improvement and contracting can be very competitive. Don’t think that your contractors won’t notice if you come back again and again for their services. Some even have referral programs, where you’ll earn money off their next visit for every new customer they gain through your word of mouth advertising. It’s all about scratching backs. If you mention to your book club that Smith’s Plumbing is the best in town, he’ll be inclined to give you a discount, even if you call him on Sunday. Loyalty means a lot in this industry, so find a handyman you like and stick with him through all of your home projects.