Hey all! Happy Monday.
Sorry I was away last week. (And I’m sorry I’ve had to make this apology a few times recently.) Ben and I moved into our new place the last weekend in June and dealing with the house has completely consumed our lives.
However, we are finally in a good, organized place, so I can finally begin to relax and focus on other priorities.
As I’ve said many times, the house buying process has been such a great learning experience for me. It started with learning what steps to take before even looking for a place, then figuring out the multiple steps in the buying process, and then learning how to budget for repairs and maintenance even before moving in (and the conflicts that go along with it).
Yet another lesson came up when I reviewed our spending for moving into our new home. I was astounded by some budget busters that I didn’t consider and really caused some stress for us. I wanted to share those with you to give you a heads up if you find yourself in the same position.
1) Additional work and labor costs: You should first prepare yourself for the reality that the actual price of work you get done will likely exceed your estimates. When we first closed on the place, we got quotes from a general contractor plus other specific contractors on how much it would cost to do all of the work we wanted to before we moved in. In almost every case, the actual costs exceeded the quote. Sometimes the quote was off because of the amount of labor increased (e.g., we needed another coat of paint on previously dark colored bathrooms) or as we started to do some work, we realized we needed to do other things (e.g. we needed to make our closets more functional). You can’t really know what the increased costs will be but you can allow yourself a 10%, 20% or 30% cushion – depending on the size of the job – to make sure you can pay for all that you want to do.
2) Don’t forget moving costs: Speaking of quotes vs. actual costs, one of the most divergent costs from our quotes was for our movers. Despite having used the moving company twice before, this move took twice as long as it has in the past, without that much additional stuff. This meant almost double the costs originally quoted because they charge by the hour. Part of this delay was because of the new management and movers, but also it was just a tougher move (no elevator in the new place). Plus, the moving materials – boxes, tape, packing paper – quickly added up. So when it comes to budgeting for your new home, don’t forget the costs of actually getting you there and leave yourself some overage.
3) Furniture: The third budget buster I’ve found has been new furniture. We knew going into the move that we would need some new pieces of furniture to make the space more livable. However, agreeing on what we’ve needed and discovering more things as we’ve been in the space, has been a real burden on our budget. Leave yourself some room for that unexpected bookshelf, toilet paper holder, or wireless router. And at some point, you will have to become okay without being able to have everything purchased from the get go.
4) Repairs once you move in: Everyone told me owning a house would be expensive. But I’ve been astounded by the repairs we’ve had to make even only having been in the place a week: our movers scuffed up our newly painted walls and refinished floor, a light from our kitchen ceiling started coming down, and our couch has to be cleaned from all of the grime it captured in the move and over the years. It’s a good idea to leave yourself some funds for the unexpected immediately after your move (in addition to your emergency fund).
You’ll probably never be able to get your new-house budget down to the penny (especially when you’re dealing within someone else who wants things for the property as well). But you can relieve a little bit of stress by giving yourself some cushion for those events that will likely cost you more than expected.