The real cost of being a homeowner

Laura Whitcombe's picture

Before I became a homeowner, my dad warned me that my house would be a bottomless money pit. And boy, was he right.

I finally got on the property ladder in the South East two years ago. And since then, I’ve had the two most expensive years of my life. And my house is squarely to blame (ok, my wedding didn’t help but that’s another story).

Within a few hours of moving in, it became all too obvious that something was very wrong with the water pressure. After a day of lugging heavy boxes around, I tried the shower for the first time. The water could barely muster the energy to trickle out of the shower head.

And much to my dismay, there was no quick fix. A pump wasn’t an option. What we actually required was a new boiler. And we needed it fast. So within a fortnight of moving in, my husband and I found ourselves with a £3,000 bill.

A couple of months later, severe storms brought a fence down in our back garden. Luckily, it turned out to be our neighbours’ side and it was quickly replaced at their expense a few days later. But as soon as it went up, another night of storms brought ours down. The cost of the replacement? £1,200. We could have made a claim on our buildings insurance but the thought of our premiums rocketing the following year, and the hassle involved, put us off. So our depleted savings took a further hit.

Then, as winter really took hold, it became clear the front door was as useful an insulator as a string vest. What looked like a half wood, half glass door, was actually a glass door that had been cleverly painted to look like wood. It was also a smidgeon too small for the frame. It had to go. The cost of the replacement? £2,000 (after new locks and the exorbitant fitting cost).

And as the dark nights set in, it occurred to us that our house was even darker than it needed to be. Looking up at the living room ceiling, four out of eight spotlights weren’t working. It was the same in every other room in the house – it turned out we’d bought a spotlight palace – 64 halogen spotlights. Our electricity circuit couldn’t cope so we had to switch the lot for more energy-efficient LED bulbs – at a cost of £500, and that included a hefty discount.

Next came a patch of damp and the remedy turned out to be having a section of our kitchen extension’s roof replaced, which subsequently caused a leak. And during the whole debacle, our builder pointed out that there was no lintel above the kitchen window. I didn’t even know what a lintel was. I have since found out it means a expensive bit of steel that holds the wall up. The cost of putting all this right? £3,500.

So it cost us the best part of £10,000 just to get our home in full working order. That’s before doing anything nice like upgrading old student furniture and getting rid of scary wallpaper.

I’m starting to miss the days of thinking £100 a month rent rise was ridiculous.

Let me know what unexpected costs you've had to payout by leaving a comment below or emailing me at

Your Comments

As a matter of interest did you get a proper survey done before purchase, not just the mortgage providers valuation survey. It's not difficult to determine the age of a boiler from the model and make.
Over a period of 17 years I have spent on average about £1,000 a year on house maintenance, not counting my time on decorating.
By far the most expensive job was refitting the kitchen.

Hello eco_man. Thanks for reading my blog.

I got a Homebuyer's Survey and my surveyor ended up offering me a gesture of goodwill while not accepting liability for the lintel - even though the bowing bricks visible from ground level probably should have been spotted on the visit.

Without going into too much detail (the problem with blogs), the boiler issue was more to do with water pressure than the boiler itself but the cost of doing anything about it other than replacing the boiler was prohibitive so we settled on the new boiler instead. In the process, we moved its location to free up extra kitchen space. And I'm happy to report it's been running perfectly - touch wood - since we had it installed.

And luckily for us, the kitchen had already been extended and nicely fitted before we bought the house, so we've been spared that expense at least!


IMO the survey reports are just another way of getting money from homebuyers. Homebuyer report is worthless and even the full survey has too many cavities in it due to possibility of access and inspection. I bought a 10 years old house and I was advised of homebuyer survey. There was not a word about patio slabs being supported and leveled by pieces of wood (easy to lift and check) or staircase stringer fitted incorrectly(apparently easy to spot by looking into the cupboard under the stairs). In total additional cost was over 3k to put it right.