May 18, 2021 / Home & Property

A Guide to Household Bills: Everything You Need to Pay as a Homeowner

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There are a lot of additional costs to owning a home beside the purchase price. Here are some of the costs you need to be aware of when buying or inheriting a home.

The Checklist

  • Mortgage Repayments
  • Service Charges or Ground Rent for Flats
  • Building Insurance
  • Contents Insurance
  • Home Repairs and Maintenance
  • Utilities 
  • Council Tax
  • TV, Internet, and Other Subscriptions
  • Parking Costs

Mortgage Repayments 

Most homeowners in the UK take out a mortgage to help with the price of their home. Mortgage payments are made monthly and will partly pay off the mortgage and partly pay off the interest. If you have a fixed-rate mortgage, then your monthly repayment amount will remain the same. If you have a variable-rate mortgage, then your monthly repayments might be different each month due to the different interest rate.

You can save money on your mortgage by overpaying your mortgage each year (thereby incurring less in interest) or by re-mortgaging to get a better deal. You will need to check the terms and conditions of your mortgage before doing either of these because these actions may incur fees or charges that would eat into any potential savings.

Service Charges or Ground Rent For Flats 

If you’re purchasing a leasehold property, flat or house, then you will have to pay ground rent. The amount of this will vary, depending on how much it costs the landlord to maintain the property.

A flat will also be subject to service charges for the maintenance of communal areas. This is usually charged monthly or quarterly. The amount of the service charges can vary widely depending on the area and the type of building. Generally, the more communal facilities and areas, the more the service charge will cost. If there are repairs or work needed on the building, then the service charges may be raised slightly to pay for this as well.

Building Insurance 

If you are not buying a leasehold property, you will need to purchase building insurance to cover any damage to the building itself. The leaseholder will often purchase building insurance, so if you purchase a leasehold property, it may be included in the service charge; look at your contract to make sure.

If you are purchasing a freehold property and will have a mortgage, often building insurance is a requirement of the mortgage. The lender will require you have building insurance on the day of the exchange. This is because until you pay off your loan, the property technically belongs to your lender, and they hold the deed. Even if you do not have a mortgage, building insurance is a necessity. It protects your financial interests if your home is damaged.

Contents Insurance 

Contents insurance protects anything in the home, like furniture, appliances, and belongings. If your home floods, then the building insurance will cover the costs of damage to the structure of the building and contents insurance will cover the costs of damage to anything inside the home.

This insurance will also cover you for theft or any other damage or destruction of property. Contents insurance is not necessary, but it is advisable, regardless of the quality of your belongings. Shop around for a policy that will suit your needs best, as the coverage can vary significantly. This is particularly important if you have expensive technology in your home or valuable items. For things like jewellery or heirlooms, you may have to follow certain requirements for their safekeeping.

Home Repairs and Maintenance 

You will need to put money aside regularly to have a little pot of cash to access when things break down. This money will go towards regular home maintenance, unexpected repairs and may even be used for renovations or decorating, depending on how much you are putting aside.

As a general rule, you should get things like your boiler checked and serviced every year to ensure it is in tiptop condition. To replace a boiler can be very expensive, so you want to keep on top of the maintenance to ensure it has a long lifespan. Other yearly checks you should carry out include pest control assessments, cleaning and checking the gutters, and checking the condition of your roof. Checking your roof and gutters can be done yourself very easily.

You should get your electronics and appliances checked every five to ten years, and you will find your paint and floorings may need a refresh around the same time. By having money put aside, you can easily cover these costs as they arise. Aim to put aside at least 1% of the house’s value per year, but if you can put aside a little bit more, it will give you a buffer to conduct renovations and replace furnishings or appliances with good quality ones when the time comes.

Utilities 

Alongside the costs of homeownership, there are the general costs of living in the UK. A big part of these is utilities like gas and electricity and water. These bills will vary depending on your location, the efficiency of your home, and the amount of each service that you use.

Your water provider will be automatically allocated based on your location, so there is little flexibility in terms of finding better deals or payment options. There are plenty of energy companies, though, and it is beneficial to shop around to find a company that matches your needs and values. Some energy companies will source a percentage of their energy from renewable sources or invest in clean energy infrastructure.

You can look at ways to make your home more energy-efficient through insulation, replacing windows for double glazing, and installing better quality electronics. If your home is not energy efficient, or this is important to you, you should put aside extra in your home maintenance and repairs fund to ensure you can make these changes.

Council Tax 

Local councils will classify each home in a tax band between A and H. Your council tax band will be based largely on the worth of the home in 1991 but may also be influenced by factors like proximity to parks or other council-managed amenities. If you live alone or the property is empty, then you can apply for a 25% council tax discount.

If you believe your council tax band is too high, you can apply to the council to get them to review your tax band. Be warned that they might find that you are in a lower tax band than you should be, so this could just as easily backfire. Research thoroughly which council tax band your neighbours are in and what you should be in before you apply for a review.

TV, Internet, and Other Subscriptions 

Another significant cost is the cost of a TV licence, TV service, internet services, phone services, and any other subscriptions that you may have. It is always worth shopping around for deals on these services to ensure you are getting the best price and not paying for services you will not use. Often, new customers will get better deals, and companies will offer price match services, so if you are savvy about negotiating, there are great deals to be found.

Consider whether you need a home phone. Some internet service providers may provide landline phones as part of a deal, but you may find it more beneficial to stick to a mobile phone instead. Most mobile phone plans provide sufficient call minutes and data to be able to stay in touch with loved ones, so there is little benefit to a landline phone.

When considering streaming services for entertainment, you should also shop around and find a service that suits your needs. Do regular audits to see what you end up using and what you don’t use much of to see if there is anything you should cut out. If there are streaming services that you don’t use much of but enjoy having, talk to family and friends and see if they would be willing to split the cost of the subscription service with you to share passwords. This can make it more cost-effective to keep a subscription service that you may only use every so often.

Parking Costs 

If you own a car, then parking becomes a big deal, especially in metropolitan areas where parking can be hard to find. If your property has a driveway or garage, then you are lucky, and you will not have to pay for parking aside for maintenance costs of the driveway or garage. However, if you do not have off-street parking, then you may have to pay for parking services.

You can do this by renting a private parking space from someone else or a regular space in a parking lot. Or you may purchase parking permits that allow you to park in the streets nearby your home. A parking permit will not guarantee you a spot, so it is worth checking how busy the streets are before you choose this option. On-street parking also offers little protection for your car both from elements and human interference (crashes or theft.) Renting parking spaces may provide a little more peace of mind for the safety of your car, but it can be difficult to find a space close to your home, and you may have to pay for public transport on top of parking costs.

MyHalo post topic Home & Property Published May 18, 2021 | Tagged:


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