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Ten Tips for Cutting Home Ownership Costs This Year

Owning a home is expensive. From the time you start planning to buy a home until long after you’ve moved in, there are a myriad of ongoing costs. The down payment, insurance and taxes all start before you even take possession. Then you have moving expenses, mortgage payments, bills and ongoing maintenance. It adds up quickly and can leave you without any disposable income before you know it.

With some minor upgrades and small adjustments, you can easily reduce your home ownership costs. These 10 tips will help you reduce expenses and save money so you can start enjoying your new home!

Top 10 Tips to Reduce Home Ownership Costs

Refinance Your Mortgage

Since your mortgage is likely your biggest overall debt, this is a good place to start when trying to reduce home ownership costs. Refinancing your mortgage with a lower interest rate will reduce your monthly payments and save you thousands over the long run.

If you can’t refinance, restructuring your payment schedule can help you save money and pay off your mortgage sooner. Increasing your payment frequency or shortening the length of your mortgage will also decrease the amount of interest you pay.

Reduce Non-Essential Bills

You can almost always find ways to save money on your monthly bills. Compare internet, phone and cable service providers to make sure you’re getting the best deal for your dollar. Different companies may offer more data for the same price, or discounts if you purchase more than one service.

saving on home costs

By shopping around for house insurance, you can save money each month. And you can also raise your deductible to lower your monthly payments. Combining your home and auto insurance should save money as well.

Avoid paying bills on credit. Unless you pay off your credit card entirely every month, you’ll be paying interest on top of your regular fee.

Lower Heating Costs

Reducing your heating costs will go a long way to bringing down your overall expenses. An easy first step is to turn down your thermostat. Reduce temperatures at night and during the day when everyone is out of the house. And try to lower the temperature by a degree or two when you’re home as well. Wearing a sweater and keeping a blanket nearby will save you money on heating bills.

To make sure you don’t forget to adjust the heat, replace old thermostats with new programmable ones. You can set programs for weekdays and weekends, ensuring you always have it set to the appropriate temperature.

reducing costs at home

Clean vents and have furnace maintenance done regularly to ensure you’re not wasting money running an inefficient furnace.

Going Green Saves Energy

A little green living goes a long way. Making changes to help the environment will also help reduce your energy costs. Replace old incandescent light bulbs with new CFL or LED bulbs to save energy. To save even more, install motion lights in hallways and add timers to outdoor lights.

Unplug electronics when not in use to avoid paying for phantom power. Electronics such as TV’s, stereo equipment, computers, chargers and small appliances all continue to draw electricity even when they’re turned off. If you don’t want to unplug everything, invest in a power strip with a power switch so you can turn everything off at once.

Fix Leaks

A dripping tap may not seem like it wastes a lot of water, but those drips add up fast. Fixing leaks on taps and toilets will save money on water bills. Don’t forget to check outdoor taps and hoses for leaks and ensure they always get turned off after use.

cutting costs for your home

Whether you’re trying to keep cool in the summer or warm in the winter, don’t waste energy on air leaks. Add weather stripping around windows and doors to reduce air loss. Light switches and electrical outlets can also be a source of air leaks. Install inexpensive foam gaskets behind the covers to provide a better seal.

Save on Laundry Costs

Laundry is a necessary evil. It also makes up a big portion of your energy bills. To help keep laundry costs at a minimum, always do full loads and wash in cold water.

Dryers are one of the most expensive appliances to run. Hanging clothes to dry will save you quite a bit in energy costs. If you aren’t able to hang an outdoor clothesline, buy a clothes rack or install a drying rod.  

Get Handy with Repairs

Hiring a handyman every time you need a repair done can get costly. Learn how to make basic repairs yourself and you’ll save hundreds of dollars. The internet is overflowing with DIY advice. Watch a few videos and you can easily handle repairs like installing a thermostat, repairing a toilet or replacing locks.

Repair or Replace Appliances

Large appliances like fridges and freezers use a lot of electricity. Regular maintenance will help keep them running efficiently. Clean condenser coils and repair motors that aren’t running smoothly. Replace damaged door seals regularly to ensure cold air stays in.

Buying Second Hand Items

There are a lot of things required to maintain a home. From tools to gardening supplies to furniture, it can seem like you’re always saving up for the next purchase. You can save a lot of money on these items if you buy second hand. Resale sites like Kijiji or Facebook Marketplace have almost everything under the sun listed for much less than you would pay if you bought new. And, oftentimes, these items are barely used.

cost cutting on second hand items

You can also find home décor items like curtains and area rugs to help reduce decorating costs. Big ticket purchases like a couch or dining room set are often more than half price, saving you hundreds of dollars.

Don’t Pay for Services You Can Do Yourself

While it might be nice not to have to shovel snow or mow the lawn, paying to have these services taken care of can be very expensive. If you’re trying to reduce expenses, you’ll have to forgo the house cleaner and mop your own floors. You should also skip convenient services like grocery delivery and always pick up orders in-store rather than having them shipped.

If you’re looking to own a home on Hilton Head Island, visit Ocean Front HHI to find the perfect home in a great neighborhood.  Check out our Featured Neighborhoods or use the Advanced Search to narrow your desired location.

How to Create a Home Maintenance Checklist

Everybody invariably has a list of things they need to accomplish, whether it’s weekly, monthly, annually, or even daily. We make grocery lists to restock the fridge and pantries, we get routine oil changes in our cars, and we visit the dentist or other health practitioners every so often to maintain our health.

The same goes for maintaining our homes. While this can often seem like a daunting task, once you break down the required duties and areas of attention into a checklist to be completed at certain times of the year, it doesn’t seem so bad.

Creating a Home Maintenance Checklist

Time and Money Management

It’s understandable that a lot of time and money will go into routine home maintenance – including the occasional professional help – so it’s also important to prepare financially. Set aside a certain amount each month when you can to help prepare. And the best way to prepare with your checklist is to create a calendar for yourself.

creating a home maintenance checklist

Not only will it help maximize efficiency, but you’ll be able to plan ahead accordingly. Maintaining your home doesn’t have to be an overwhelming experience. If you can manage to complete a handful of tasks each weekend, it won’t seem so stressful.

When you realize your house is being kept in tip-top condition with preventative care, the results will show. And you’ll even be maintaining the value of your home by doing so. While you can add, remove, or alter any portion of this breakdown to suit your own needs, here’s a starting point for you to consider on how to create a home maintenance checklist:

Monthly Checklist for Your Home

There may be a few things you want to handle on a weekly basis, like vacuuming and removing debris from your home’s exterior to maintain aesthetic, but these items should not be overlooked on a month-by-month basis.

  • Inspect safety features like your fire extinguisher, smoke and carbon monoxide detectors, security devices, GFI interrupters, and electrical cords.
  • Inspect and/or replace HVAC filters.
  • Clean your kitchen sink disposal.
  • Clean your range hood fan filter with degreaser and hot water.
  • Clean showerheads and faucet aerators to remove mineral deposits.
  • Pour hot water down drains to prevent clogging.
  • Clean vents and heat registers with a vacuum.
  • Inspect water softener and replenish salt, if necessary.

Quarterly Checklist for Your Home

Some monthly items can be designated on a quarterly system, depending on your preferences. But these items still ought to be included.

  • Clean sliding doors and window tracks.
  • Test your garage door, its auto-reverse feature, and grease the tracks as needed.
  • Run water and flush toilets in any areas not regularly used.
  • Vacuum your refrigerator coils.
  • Test your water heater pressure valve.

For the annual upkeep, the best way to designate tasks is by season, because much of it requires preparation for whatever season is coming up. This can be arranged according to whenever you begin work on from your checklist.


Spring Check List

Outdoor tasks:

  • Clean out gutter debris and downspouts from the fall season.
  • Inspect your exterior drainage.
  • Inspect exterior features for damage like paint, siding, brick, and foundation.
  • Inspect your roof and chimney for any damage as well.
  • Service your lawn mower and fertilize your lawn.
  • Clear any dead plants or shrubbery, and ensure trees do not interfere with electrical lines.

Indoor tasks:

  • Repair or replace any damaged window screens, including inspecting the weather-stripping and washing your windows.
  • Test your sump pump.
  • Prepare your air conditioner for summer by replacing the filter and inspecting the coolant. Contact a professional if needed.

Summer Home Check List

This is mostly the season of yard work – and garage work.

Outdoor tasks:

  • Clean and repair your deck or patio.
  • Prune trees and shrubs.
  • Open any crawl space vents.
  • Get your pool serviced.
  • Inspect your home’s exterior and interior for insect infestation.

Indoor tasks:

  • Inspect bathrooms and kitchen for grout and repair where needed.
  • Inspect plumbing for leaks.
  • Inspect and clean your dryer vents, including any other exhaust vents.
  • Remove debris from window wells.
  • And, of course, the summer ritual: it’s time to clean out your garage.

Fall Check List for Your Home

Finish up your summer chores and prepare; winter is coming.

Outdoor tasks:

  • Clean out our chimney and inspect fireplace.
  • Winterize your air conditioning and sprinkler systems, and turn off and flush outdoor faucets.
  • Rake leaves and maintain your yard.
  • Store or cover any outdoor furniture, including barbecue.
  • Inspect/replace any winter gear like a snowblower, shovels, sidewalk salt, etc.

Indoor tasks:

  • Get your heating system ready for cooler temperatures.
    • Check for leaks.
    • Open heating vents.
    • Have your furnace serviced
  • Flush hot water heater and remove sediment buildup.

Winter Checklist Tasks

home maintenance checklist

This is mostly the season for interior work.

Outdoor tasks:

  • Continually keep an eye on ice buildup and icicles that may cause damage to exterior features or pose a health risk.
  • Keep your winter tools handy and your garden tools stored safely.

Indoor tasks:

  • Inspect/replace locks, deadbolts, doors, windows, knobs, handles, and racks for safety and security measures.
  • Inspect/repair any caulking around showers and bathtubs.
  • Clean sediment from shower heads.
  • Test your electricity, and remember to use extreme caution.
  • While summer was time to clean your garage, winter is the time to clean out your basement. You’ll want to ensure there’s no mold or any unwanted rodents nesting there.

Other Important Areas of Concern

While not always directly related to seasons, some other tasks should be apportioned annually, like getting your septic tank inspected and sealing any exterior cracks with stucco. But you’ll also want to keep your home maintained and prepared in these other areas as well.

Safety Tips

  • Keep an eye on overloading of electrical outlets and extension cords.
  • Turn off or disconnect appliances when not in use.
  • Keep flammable objects away from any open flame in your range.
  • Know what to do in case of a fire and know where your extinguishers are.
  • If necessary, develop an escape route from your home in case of an emergency.

Disaster Preparation

  • Establish a plan of action in case of a disaster, along with a preparation kit.
  • Have a designated meeting place and means of contact.
  • In your kit, ensure you have enough food, water, clothing, first-aid supplies, sleeping bag/blanket, battery-powered radio and flashlight (and extra batteries), and special need items of necessity, tools, supplies, and sanitation needs.
  • Keep cash, credit cards, or traveler’s checks handy.

Get Started Today

If you would like more information or ideas on what how to create a home maintenance checklist in the Hilton Head Island area, Ocean Front HHI invites you to experience the excellence of oceanfront service and contact us today.

Ten Common Things You Need to Fix When Buying a Home

Whether you’re buying a home that fits into a historical category or one that’s been constructed during your lifetime, it is important to understand that repairs are all a part of making this purchase. As expected, older homes usually bring the need for more repairs, but this isn’t true for every situation and isn’t a good rule of thumb to follow when buying.

Instead, prepare yourself with the knowledge of the most common repairs buyers face after they’ve signed on the dotted line of the home loan mortgage.  Learn some of the most common repairs you might find yourself making after buying a home.

10 Things to Fix When Buying a Home

Fixing Older Windows

Old, outdated windows devalue a home, diminishing its appearance and adding excess costs to heating and energy figures. Improperly sealed windows allow drafts to create uncomfortable conditions inside of the home in addition to piling-on the added costs. Cracks, discolorations, chips, and missing wood are common issues you’ll notice upon inspection of the windows.

top ten home repairs

Replacing the windows of the home improves its overall appearance and energy-efficiency, adding to curb appeal and operating cost reductions that you need and deserve. Costs of new windows vary and there are several factors that impact that amount.

This includes the number of windows purchased, the place of purchase, company chosen for purchase and window materials. Look for windows featuring the Energy Star label to get high-quality, energy-efficient windows that outlast the competition.

Dealing with Termites

More than $5 billion in termite damage is discovered in homes throughout the country every year.  They feed on the cellulose inside of wood and your home serves them a tasty meal. It takes the tiny insects a period of just two years to destroy your home if you aren’t monitoring your home for their presence.

Professional inspections are available, but you can look for signs of them around the home yourself as well. Discarded wings, mud tubes, and swarms of termites are among the most common signs of an infestation. Don’t let termites destroy perhaps your most valuable investment.

Painting Your Rooms

You can hire professionals or you can get out the paint brushes and overalls and DIY, but go ahead and add painting the exterior walls of the home to the list of repairs that you’ll make when buying a house. Chipped, damaged paint or old, outdated colors are often one of the first changes that a new homeowner makes. Plan accordingly and begin choosing your new colors and designs upon closing.

Taking Care of Mold/Mildew Damage

Mold and mildew breed in moist and/or damp conditions. The bathroom and basement are two of the most common areas of the home for their growth. Mold and mildew leave behind musty odors and can cause a significant number of health concerns, especially for people suffering from asthma, the elderly, and children. If you discover mold, hire a professional for mitigation.

Repairing Your Roof

Sadly, the roof is frequently neglected before noticeable damage has occurred. It shouldn’t be neglected, however, because it is one of the most important components of the home, protecting it from various elements.

Common House Repairs

Missing shingles, ice dams, rotting wood and an assortment of other roofing issues should be promptly repaired upon discovery. Roofing issues can extend into the home and lead to significant repair costs.

Updating the Heating/Cooling System

Malfunctioning heating and cooling systems are also common issues that many people experience once they’ve purchased a house. There is a myriad of different issues that can cause the system to malfunction, some simple and affordable to repair, but others a major headache and expense.  

Always hire a professional to diagnose any concerns that you have with the heating and cooling unit. Consider updating an older system to enjoy more efficient airflow throughout the home.

Disposing of Hazardous Material

More commonly a problem in older homes, hazardous materials such as lead-based paint or asbestos can lead to devastating consequences if prompt repairs are not made. They can cause cancer and a variety of health symptoms and concerns.

In an ideal situation, a lead-based paint or asbestos removal company will come to the inspect the property and remedy the problem with proven solutions. Prepare to sign an affirmation attesting to the potential risks of these hazardous materials if the home was built pre-1978.

Fixing Your Plumbing

Be it a leak or a major problem like the need for an entirely new septic system, plumbing is sometimes a concern when buying a home. You should look for signs of plumbing trouble before buying a home. It is usually a part of the pre-buying home inspection so make sure that you hire a licensed home inspector to evaluate the property before you invest your cash.

This professional will detect any and all plumbing issues (as well as many others) and alert you to the need for a repair.

Working with Foundation Problems

Cracks in the walls, doors that are difficult to open or close, and uneven walls are a few of the many signs that indicate trouble with the home’s foundation. Since this includes the structural components of the home, learning that a house has foundation damage can be distressing, but certainly must be repaired quickly to avoid further devastation.

common repairs when buying a home

The costs of foundation repairs vary considerably – simple repairs cost only a few hundred dollars while a more serious issue can cost thousands of dollars to repair.

Find Your Dream Home Today

It is a good idea to hire a home inspector to provide a professional inspection of a property that you are seriously considering purchasing before finalizing that decision. Although a home inspector doesn’t repair damage to a home, they do identify troubles, such as those listed above, making it easy for you to decide if a property is worth the price or if you should negotiate a better deal.

Professional home inspections can save you considerable money and heartache and may even be required before a mortgage lender will approve you for a loan. When the final report is provided, read over the list of problems and get in touch with experts who can resolve them before they turn into even worse issues that cost more money to repair.

Of course, if you purchase one of our beautiful beachfront properties, those minor repairs are of little concern. Get in touch today and find your new home.



Night Heron Villas
Hilton Head For Sale

Tucked just inside the Sea Pines Ocean Gate are Night Heron Villas Hilton Head For Sale and they are the first complex on the right-hand side just across N Sea Pines Drive from the beach walkway.

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