by Sean Hess (Sean@StAugTeam.com), Broker and Manager for St. Augustine Team Realty (www.StAugustineTeamRealty.com). Join us on Facebook.
This water spigot cost $275 to replace.
If you are a first time buyer, how much should you have in the bank for repairs?
The rule of thumb is to have 12 months income saved, not just for repairs, but in case of job loss so you can make the payments.
That being said, here’s what typically breaks down in the first few years of owning a north Florida home:
1). The A/C Unit.
Just about every home in this part of Florida has central heat and air. And because these machines get such a workout, they are usually the things that break the most often. Sometimes it’s just a resistor that will cost $200-$300, sometimes it’s the whole machine.
If the whole machine breaks down it’s going to run closer to $3000-$4000, which will replace not only the outside unit, but the air handler inside the home (they have to be matched in most cases).
Even newer models can break down because either the previous owner didn’t change the filters enough, or salt air near the beach made quick work of the exposed exterior unit.
2). The water heater.
This part of Florida has notoriously hard water. And natural gas heated anything is pretty rare (everything is almost exclusively electric).
So your heating elements are going to get encrusted with carbonate deposits suspended in the water. Figure less than $100 if you do it yourself for a new element(s), $200-$300 if a plumber comes out.
Because of the hard water your water heater will have an overall shorter life as well. So figure, go out and buy one at Home Depot for $200-$250, and then have a plumber install it for another $200-$250.
You could also get a water softener, but those things aren’t the most environmentally sensitive things.
Appliances break. Usually it’s the refrigerator, which will run anywhere from $150 (on Craigslist) to $1000+ for the latest stainless model.
Then the dishwasher, a victim of hard water (see water heater above). And then, less often, the microwave or stove.
Hard water does take a toll, but most plumbing items you see will be due to age or use wear-out.
Things you will be replacing?
Water spigots. I’ve been charged $75 to $275 a pop to have a plumber come out and do one of these. The $275 was for a spigot on a brick exterior home that was under contract to sell. Yes we were ripped off. No I don’t use that plumbing company anymore. I don’t mind paying $75 for a spigot when it includes the call out fee–that’s only fair. But when they charge $75 for each spigot…that doomed another company. Pigs get fat, hogs get slaughtered.
You will also invariably clip your water shut off valve on the home’s exterior with the lawn mower. Or the water line will break at the meter. These may only be $200 or so for the fix, but your water meter will run up before you discover it. If you’re lucky you will see pooling water (or how amazingly green the grass is on just one spot of your property).
Lastly, you may spend a few bucks replacing the wax ring, the water shutoff, and or the seat on a toilet. All cheap fixes you can do yourself.
5). Water damage.
This is related to plumbing and may require a plumber. Typically what happens is that a faucet leaks just enough to contact a wood cabinet or counter, and then the wood warps.
Generally these aren’t expensive fixes if you do it yourself. If you have to call a plumber to fix the faucet or lines, and possibly a general contractor to fix the wood, figure $200 for the plumber and $300 for the contractor…most of it on call out fees with a little bit of supplies and labor.
Contact St. Augustine Team for Realtors that will get you through the tough fixes, or just call Broker Sean Hess at (904) 386-8327.