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How to Pay for Emergency Home Repairs, So You Can Move on ASAP

By Janet Schaaf · November 19, 2023 · 11 minute read

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How to Pay for Emergency Home Repairs, So You Can Move on ASAP

If you’re a homeowner, you may know those “uh-oh” moments when the basement floods or the roof leaks. If you’re in that situation, you may well need a considerable amount of cash to pay for repairs ASAP.

In this guide, you’ll learn the ballpark prices for some of the most common home repairs so you are better prepared if an emergency strikes. You’ll also gain insight into some financing options so if you find yourself dealing with an unexpected and significant bill, you can decide which source of funding is best for your needs.

How Much Do Common Home Repairs Cost?

From the roof to foundation, there are a lot of things in and on a home that might need to be repaired. Among these features are things that might be emergency home repairs at some point, whether that means you’ve discovered black mold in the basement or a kitchen appliance has conked out. Here, learn about some of the most common home repair costs.


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Roof

A home’s roof has a certain life expectancy, generally based on the material used. A roof made of asphalt shingles might last from 15 to 30 years, while concrete- or clay-tiled roof could last for more than 50 years.

Regular roof inspections are a good way to identify any minor problems, which may typically cost about $220, but can vary with your specific home and the region you live in. Minor repairs might include:

•   Gutter cleaning.

•   Patching leaks.

•   Replacing shingles.

•   Repairing flashing.

Issues found during a roof inspection might average $1,100. Replacing a roof, a major expense, may be necessary at some point in the life of a home. For an average-sized home, a completely new roof can cost $9,217 on average.

Foundation

Foundation issues can show up as cracks in a home’s walls, floors that are not level, gaps around windows, or doors that don’t close properly. Fixing these symptoms of a foundation issue won’t solve the underlying problem, but repairing the foundation at the earliest sign of the symptoms may mean a less costly foundation repair.

Hiring a structural engineer can be a good first step if there appear to be major foundation problems, as they won’t be trying to sell a product to fix any potential problems, so will likely be unbiased. A structural inspection typically costs about $600.

•   Cracks in a foundation that don’t affect the structure are minor repairs but are best not ignored, lest they lead to major issues. Potential cost: between $250 and $800.

•   A leaking foundation might be the cause of those cracks. Waterproofing a foundation, which may involve excavating around the foundation, installing tile drains, filling cracks, and then coating the structure with a sealant, can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $7,000.

•   A house with a settling or sinking foundation may have flooring that is warped or sloping, doors and windows that don’t open and close properly, or even exterior cracks, or other apparent issues. The cost generally depends on the type of repair. Raising a house using piers can cost between $1,000 and $3,000, while jacking might be between $600 and $1,600.

Water Damage

Water damage in a basement might be due to flooding from a storm or broken water line, for example, and is best fixed quickly so mold doesn’t grow and become another issue to take care of. In addition to being an unpleasant sight, standing water can cause structural or electrical issues in a home. Extraction of the water is generally the first step in this type of repair, followed by any necessary structural repairs.

•   For simple fixes, such as cleaning up after an overflowing toilet, the cost might be around $150.

•   Water damage restoration, though, is a bigger ticket item, averaging between $1,300 and $5,600, though it could go higher. If your entire home’s wood flooring is warped by water damage or basement flooding wrecks your electrical panel, that could spiral into five figures.

Recommended: How Much Does It Cost to Finish a Basement?

Mold

If the above water issues are not fixed in a timely manner, mold can grow on the surfaces, requiring additional necessary repairs. In addition to damaging any surface mold grows on, it’s also a serious health hazard, potentially causing allergic reactions, asthma attacks, and skin irritation.

Mold remediation costs average between $5,000 and $30,000 for a 2,000 square foot home. If the mold issue is localized (say, just in the attic or basement), your costs could be anywhere from $500 to $7,500 on average, depending on the specifics of your situation.

Pests and Rodents

Pests and rodents in a home can be more than just annoying. Infestations might cause major damage to a home if left untreated. One-time pest control costs around $450 on average. Ongoing services may cost $50 or more a month.

Attics can be inviting spaces to rodents like mice, rats, or squirrels, or other animals such as raccoons or bats. Eliminating the problem can cost $200 to $600 typically.

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HVAC

A home’s heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems control the regulation and movement of air throughout the building. Like other components in a home, it’s wise to have an HVAC system inspected regularly to catch any problems before they become serious (as in, needing to pull together the cost of replacing an HVAC system). A standard tune-up for an HVAC system might cost between $150 and $450, with any potential repairs added to that. Some companies might offer ongoing maintenance plans, which could be a cost saver over time.

And what if the entire HVAC system needs replacing? Your price tag could be between $5,000 and $12,000 or higher. This could be a good opportunity to investigate any rebates available. For instance, if you buy an eco-conscious heat pump, you might find rebates as part of the Inflation Reduction Act.


💡 Quick Tip: Unsecured home improvement loans don’t use your house as collateral — a relief for many homeowners.

Electrical

Electrical issues in a house can vary from minor repairs, such as replacing an outlet, to wiring overhauls that may require professional help.

•   Hiring an electrician to replace a home’s outlets, light fixtures, and switches can cost around $280 on average. For someone who is confident in their DIY skills, this relatively simple job can be done for about $5 per outlet.

•   Replacing a circuit breaker or the entire electrical panel is something homeowners might leave to a professional. Costs will depend on the number of breakers being replaced or, in the case of replacing the electrical panel, how many amps. Panel replacement or upgrade can be anywhere from $2,000 to $6,000.

•   Rewiring a home can be quite expensive and include other repairs, such as plaster or drywall repair. To rewire an entire home, a homeowner might expect to pay between $2,500 and $6,000 for a three-bedroom house.

Ways To Finance an Emergency Home Repair

Even with regular inspections and maintenance, sometimes emergency home repairs are necessary. Some roof tiles may blow away, allowing rain in, or mold can take root in a damp basement. How to pay for home repairs (especially major ones) might involve using a variety of sources, depending on what is available and a person’s individual financial circumstances.

Homeowners Insurance

Homeowners insurance may be the first source most homeowners look to when needing to pay for emergency home repairs. The policy will stipulate what is covered, how much the company will pay, and any amount the homeowner might be responsible for, such as a deductible.

Some things a typical homeowners insurance policy might cover are costs to repair or rebuild after a disaster, replacement of personal belongings that were destroyed because of a disaster, or the costs of alternative housing while repairs are being made or a house is being rebuilt.

Emergency Fund

If there is a sufficient amount in an emergency fund, paying for an unexpected home repair with cash on hand is an option that won’t incur interest. How much to save in a home repair emergency fund will depend on the home’s size, age, and value. Older or more expensive homes might mean higher repair costs.

A typical recommendation is to save between 1% and 3% of a home’s value in a home repair emergency fund. So for a home valued at $500,000, this means having between $5,000 and $15,000 saved for emergency home repairs. This is a goal to work toward, but even having $1,000 in savings can be helpful.

If you do dip into your fund to fix your house, it can be like an emergency home repair loan, without any interest charged or monthly repayment schedule.

Home Equity

Homeowners who have built up equity in their homes may choose to use that equity to get money for home repairs. Using this type of financing, however, does come with some risk because the home is used as collateral. If the borrower defaults, the lender may seize the home as a way to repay the debt.

There are two types of loans that are based on a home’s equity: home equity loans and home equity lines of credit (HELOCs).

•   A home equity loan is a fixed-rate, lump-sum loan. It has a set repayment term, and the borrower makes regular, fixed payments consisting of principal and interest.

•   A HELOC also uses the equity a homeowner has built up, but the borrower does not receive a lump sum. Instead, they access the loan funds as needed until the loan term ends. Funds can be borrowed, repaid, and borrowed again, up to the limits of the loan.

HELOCs are variable-rate loans and consist of two periods: a draw period and a repayment period. The draw period is the time during which money can be borrowed, and might be 10 years. The repayment period is the time during which the loan is repaid and might last for 20 years. The combination of the two would make this example a 30-year HELOC.

Recommended: The Different Types Of Home Equity Loans

Assistance Programs

If emergency home repairs are required but the homeowner can’t afford to pay for them, assistance programs might be an option to look into.

•   Government loan or grant assistance. The U.S. Departments of Housing and Urban Development (HUD) , Agriculture (USDA), and Veterans Affairs (VA) offer grants and loans to eligible homeowners for home repairs and improvements.

•   Disaster relief. HUD offers several programs for homeowners affected by federally declared disaster areas. HUD partners with other federal and state agencies to provide relief in the form of mortgage assistance, relocation, food distribution, and other types of disaster relief.

•   Community Assistance Programs. Funding assistance may be able to be found by looking at local sources, such as county or city governments or charities. A good place to start a search is through HUD’s state listings .

Credit Card

Using a credit card to finance unexpected and urgent work on your home may seem like an easy fix. It can certainly be a quick way to pay for such repairs and a viable option if you’re thinking of how to pay for home repairs with no money withdrawn from your bank account. There are pros and cons to using a credit card for this purpose.

•   On the positive side: If the credit card is a zero-percent-interest card — and the balance can be paid in full before the promotional period ends — this can be a way to pay for an emergency home repair without paying interest.

•   As for disadvantages, credit cards are more likely to have high-interest rates, which can add a significant amount to the account balance if not paid off quickly.

•   Credit cards also come with borrowing limits. A major emergency home repair might max out this limit or even exceed it.

•   In addition, using all available credit can potentially have a negative effect on a borrower’s credit score. It can raise a person’s credit-utilization ratio. And if they are applying for a loan, it could raise their debt-to-income ratio, which might make getting a favorable loan rate a challenge.

Should I Get a Home Repair Loan?

Another option to pay for emergency home repairs might be a home improvement loan, which is a type of personal loan.

•   An unsecured personal loan does not use collateral, like a home equity loan or HELOC, so the borrower is not risking losing their home if they can’t repay the loan. The potential loan value is also not limited by the amount of equity in the home.

•   An unsecured personal loan may be funded more quickly than a home equity loan or HELOC. Because there is no collateral to determine a value for, this cuts out a potentially time-consuming step included in secured loans.

•   How can you use a personal loan? They can be tapped for a variety of reasons, not just emergency home repairs. If there are expected repairs, planned repairs, or home renovations that might make a home more livable, an unsecured loan can be a good option.

The Takeaway

It’s probably safe to say that nobody likes to think about emergencies. But it’s wise to be prepared in the event that one arises. When pricey home repairs are required, a personal loan may be the option that works best for your financial situation.

Think twice before turning to high-interest credit cards. Consider a SoFi personal loan instead. SoFi offers competitive fixed rates and same-day funding. Checking your rate takes just a minute.


SoFi’s Personal Loan was named NerdWallet’s 2023 winner for Best Online Personal Loan overall.


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