It’s likely not a surprise, but the cost of owning a home in Connecticut goes beyond your monthly mortgage payment, home-owner’s insurance, and local property taxes.
While you get a lot more space for your money in the suburbs compared to city life, owning a home in an area like Connecticut includes additional costs for maintenance and upkeep that you may not have experienced if you had previously owned an apartment in NYC or another part of Connecticut.
Purchasing a single-family home comes with planned and potentially unforeseen costs that you should plan for. Hey, why buy the house on a half acre when you could buy the house with 2.5 acres?! Or why not buy the 6,000 square foot house instead of the 3,000 square foot house?! The answer is because larger houses and properties can cost you a multiple in fees to maintain versus smaller square footage homes or property sizes.
Below we have outlined the most common costs in maintaining a home in Connecticut as well as some helpful tips on how to minimize some of these expenses. Also, we provide an example annual budget for an average home in Fairfield County, Connecticut.
You don’t need to be an energy specialist to know that bigger homes cost more to heat. Generally, houses with natural gas furnaces are preferred to ones with oil for being more environmentally friendly and more cost effective.
Heating a home with oil is more expensive and requires cumbersome oil tanks (either in the ground or in the basement) which also require refilling. With natural gas you are hooked directly to a pipeline from the local utility company and don’t need to organize for oil deliveries. Some homes are outfitted with propane tanks when they are not able to be connected to a natural gas pipe and homeowners don’t want oil. These propane tanks require refilling and are generally perceived as less expensive and greener than heating oil.
Another way to save, smart thermostats from companies like Honeywell or Nest allow you to seamlessly schedule the heating system so that certain rooms or sections of the house are heated to certain temperatures based on your schedule, or only when you are home.
You can also generally control them from anywhere on your phone. They require an upfront cost to purchase and install, approximately $150-250 per thermostat plus labor, but they are well worth it and pay for themselves over time from the energy cost savings.
As for electricity, we recommend getting smart about this too. Investing early on in LED light bulbs to replace any incandescent bulbs can help dramatically reduce your electricity bills. While more expensive than incandescent, they will last much longer and their prices have come down significantly. It is estimated that an LED bulb uses 1/10th the electricity of an incandescent.
As mentioned earlier, smart thermostats also can help you optimize and minimize spend on electricity for air conditioning in the summer months.
Some homes have town water, others have their own well. If you have a well you are in good shape and won’t have to pay for water unless the well runs dry and a new one needs to be drilled, or if you need to replace a well pump. Either scenario can be pricey.
Those on town water need to pay better attention. Leaky pipes, toilets, or sprinkler systems can result in large bills over time. Detecting and fixing a leak will save you money. Usually it’s a quick and simple fix. Many recommend putting food coloring in the tank of toilets to see if they are running (unless it is obvious of course). There are also high-tech water sensors from companies like Lotik that help early detection as well.
If you live on a big piece of property, landscaping bills will really add up. There is a lot that goes into keeping a property in well groomed. Plants, shrubs, lawn care, fertilizing, chemical treatments, fall and spring cleanups, etc. Unless you enjoying gardening and mowing the lawn yourself, there is not much to do here but hire a landscaper who is competent but also affordable. We recommend discussing a yearly budget with your landscaper so that there is accountability if the actual fees are much higher than planned.
Let the buyer beware, skimping in the landscaping department can lead to bigger issues down the road, so sometimes the lowest price isn’t always the best idea. Before you purchase a big property make sure you understand what you are getting yourself into for upkeep.
Preventative maintenance goes a long way. While these are not regular expenses, they can be big and as such you should be prepared for them. For example, according to the National Association of Home Builders, wood roofs last an average of 30 years. If you properly maintain your roof you might be able to extend that life so doing routine maintenance like oiling a roof is highly recommended.
There are a lot of other expenses to consider such as sprinkler system maintenance, alarm monitoring, garbage removal, HVAC maintenance and repair, tree work, and house cleaning. If you have a home with advanced features, you should budget for periodic checks and potential repairs over time. While they may be working just fine today, the need for replacements of parts are likely to arise.
Prevu is a licensed real estate brokerage in New York and Connecticut and a member of the Real Estate Board of New York (REBNY). In Connecticut, Prevu currently serves the Fairfield County market including towns such Greenwich, Stamford, Darien, New Canaan, Fairfield, and Westport.
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