Maintenance and repairs can be costly, but they are critical to maintaining property in a good shape. By staying on top of necessary repairs, avoid the big surprises that requires significant cash outflow.

Don’t confuse maintenance with renovations, though. Maintenance work is a priority, which includes fixing any plumbing or electricity problems, taking care of the roofs, gardening and yard, etc. These are tasks that help keep the home in good enough shape, protect its resale value and ensure minor problems don’t turn into disasters that ruin the property and allocated budgets.

Paying for maintenance can be a challenge, however, when running on a tight budget. That is why one must think ahead of how to handle this cost of home ownership. Again, this should not be optional even if the problem appears to be marginal. For example, a leak can turn into flooding and mould formation, if not handled quickly and adequately.

Here are various ways to pay for your home repairs.

Budget for repairs

It is too optimistic to think that you won’t need any home repairs or maintenance for an entire year. If wanting to avoid surprises to the budget, plan ahead. You may not use this money immediately, but setting aside a little bit of money every month can helpoffset the cost of home repairs when they do happen.

Think of the most likely item to break down. You might know that the home air-conditioning is breaking down or the dishwasher is on its last leg. Check prices or get quick quotes to estimate the cost, and save up for this potential repair. If something else breaks down first, there will be some savings to tackle this most immediate need.

Get handy or find some help

Many learn to do the small repairs themselves. If not intimated by handy work, invest some time in learning how to fix things yourself. There are loads of free online resources and communities that could help when it comes to getting started. For particular problems, seek help and ask questions if the basic skills are already there to tackle them.

If challenged in getting or implementing this knowledge, think of friends or family members who might be of help. A friend might be more than happy to come to the aid in fixing a leaky faucet, for example, for nothing in return or a symbolic gesture like being invited for dinner or coffee. Meanwhile, if you try to call in professional to help with such a project, be prepared to be charged per hour of labour in addition to all the other costs of repair.

Finance them

For major repairs that you can’t afford to squeeze within budget, think of refinancing. Many contractors who offer home renovations offer financing options. Compare these options to what the bank offers — in particular personal loans and home-equity loans.

The goal should be to pay for the repairs as quickly as possible and at the lowest cost. So compare interest rates and charges to know what costs the lowest over the life of the loan. In all cases, make sure you can afford the monthly payments not only initially, but over the life of the loan.

Another easy — but more expensive — way to finance repairs is to use a credit card. This only make sense if you are able to pay off the costs over a couple of months. The pros to this approach is to get rid of this debt quickly and at a relatively low cost. The risk is that if you don’t pay off the debt as quickly as planned, it will be accumulating at a much higher annual percentage than what if you opted for a personal loan or a home-equity loan. So be careful whenever the credit card is taken out.

The writer, a former Gulf News Business Features Editor, is a Seattle-based editor.

Paying for home repairs

Set a budget ahead of required repairs;

Learn small tasks;

Find help from friends and family; and

Know the cheapest finance option.