Unexpected Expenses

Photo by Thomas Millot on Unsplash

I work on a product team that develops software. One of the biggest challenges we face on the regular is unplanned work being added to our plate; it doesn’t matter how much planning, preparation, and precision we have when high priority, unplanned work is thrown at us. Even if we budget the time for this type of work, there is no way to anticipate in enough detail to not impact other plans.

The same problem can arise in personal finances, especially where homeownership is involved. I’ve had two exciting curveballs thrown at me since I moved into my home in May 2018:

  1. The trees in my yard are unstable. Several of the older and larger trees grew poorly – with one’s split trunks going four opposing directions, putting a heavy amount of stress on the tree. I’ve since spent $100’s to have the tree cabled, as it hangs over the house and provides much needed shade in the yard and over the house to keep A/C costs down.
  2. The roof needed retrofitting. (I may be using the wrong terms here so forgive me!) I have a metal roof which during my inspection was rated as “in good condition, but needed maintenance performed within the next 12 months.” Unfortunately, a month ago I noticed a water stain forming on the ceiling of the guest room, so I called out a roofer to evaluate; it appeared my roof had had NO maintenance performed for the duration of its life, which they estimated to be 20+ years. While metal roof panels can last decades, the screws and washers that seal them do not. I had to have every single screw and washer, which water seals the roof, removed and replaced. This overdue maintenance ran me into $1000’s (partly because I had to have it done over a holiday weekend due to heavy rains in my area.)

The lesson here is to not be afraid of investing in multiple, specialized inspectors if there are questions or concerns around big ticket items (i.e. trees, roof, foundation.) Any cost of additional inspections, and potential repairs, could have been easily negotiated and if for any reason the sellers don’t budge, you know going in that you’ll be facing $X of costs in maintenance alone off the bat.

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