handyman with work belt

10 Expensive Home Repair Projects You Can’t Avoid

Planning ahead for unexpected home repairs is a must for every homeowner. The article below contains a list of the most expensive home repairs you’ll face as a homeowner.

Updated: September 30, 2021

Owning a home comes with a myriad of responsibilities. In addition to doing everyday chores, paying the utilities and mortgage monthly, regular maintenance is also a must. No matter how well you maintain your home, its major structures and system will eventually wear out, necessitating major repairs or replacement.

Major repairs and replacements are essential to the integrity of your home. Although you may only have to do these once or twice at the most, here are 10 expensive home repairs that you can expect to become part of your home repair budget.

1. Central Air Conditioning/Heat Pump ($500 to $10,250 | 12 – 18 Years)

new central ac units

Indoor comfort, especially in extreme climates, is a necessity for many people. Properly maintaining your cooling system through annual servicing costs around $100 per unit, and will help head off major repairs and alert you to when the unit is near the end of its useful life.

Eventually, major components such as the evaporator coil or compressor will wear out. As repairs begin to mount, it becomes more cost effective to replace your system. The cost of an air conditioner or heat pump depends on the size of your home, among other factors. Replacing your unit with a new one will result in energy savings due to higher efficiency. Learn more about all HVAC repair and replacement costs sorted by the project.

2. Furnace or Heating System ($250 to $9,000 | 13 – 20 Years)

Technician looking over a gas furnace with a flashlight

Just like your central air conditioning, your heating system also needs annual preventive maintenance to keep it operating well. A well maintained gas furnace has an average life of 13 to 20 years before parts start to crack, corrode, and become dangerous.

Most HVAC professionals recommend that you replace the furnace and air conditioner at the same time to ensure that the entire HVAC system is properly matched to work with all other components. Consider installing a heat pump which will take care of both heating and cooling if you live in an area with mild winters, where the temperature rarely goes below freezing.

3. Roof ($150 to $14,000 | 15 – 50 Years)

Roofer installing shingles on a replacement roof

Maintaining your roof is one of the most important home repair projects as the top of your house is the first line of defense against the elements. Fixing minor leaks that occur around loose flashing or vent pipes following storms are minor repairs, but you won’t always get that lucky. Cost can get more expensive with the age of the roof, due to several layers of shingles needing to be removed, or worse, damage to the underlayment beneath the shingles. This wide variation is due to the size of the roof, the materials used and whether the new roof is simply a tear-off job or one that involves extensive repair.

The average life of asphalt roofing shingles is, at a minimum 15 years, although some manufacturers offer warranties of up to 30 years. Costs can be as much as $25,000 or more if you decide to install metal roofing to your home, but the life expectancy can stretch as long as 50 years.

4. Windows and Doors ($300 to $15,000 | 25 – 40 Years)

Worker Installing New Windows In House

Replacing doors and windows is another one of those expensive home repairs that you’ll probably only have to do once in your lifetime unless you live in multiple houses, or plan to complete a full home remodel at some point. The seals on windows, as well as the weather stripping, will eventually wear out. While you can repair these faults, eventually the structure will wear out and necessitate a full replacement.

Signs that you need replacement include drafts, especially during windy or cold weather, difficulty opening or closing windows and condensation between double panes. The wide range in prices is tied to the number of windows and doors that require replacement, as well as the many efficiency and security options available on new doors and windows today.

5. Exterior Painting ($650 to $6,000 | 8 – 15 Years)

House Painter Painting the Trim and Home Exterior

How often you need to paint your home’s exterior depends on variables such as where you live, the painting surface and the quality of the paint used. Applying high-quality paint, for example, can extend the life of your paint job to 15 years or more. The climate in your area, the direction of your home as it faces the sun, and many other factors will determine how long exterior paint lasts on your home.

Your exterior needs painting when you see extensive chipping, peeling or fading. Exterior house painting costs increase with the square footage of your home and home many levels you have. The amount of prep work and how well you’ve maintained the exterior paint will also have an impact on the re-painting cost.

6. Repairing Pipes or Installing New Plumbing ($560 to $2,500 | 15 – 40 Years)

Plumbing tools and copper pipe fittings

Older homes with copper pipes are prone to plumbing problems, as are older cast iron sewer lines which can become clogged with tree roots or collapse due to shifts in surrounding soil. Pipes inside the home can burst in winter or crack due to wear and tear. These are just a few of the major plumbing repairs you may run into while owning a home.

Repair and replacement of water pipes and sewer lines are expensive due to the hidden nature and labor involved in discovering the problem and can wreak havoc with your home repair budget. Watch for leaks and listen for knocking noises, which are both very indicative of plumbing problems.

7. Driveway Repairs ($300 to $4,500 | 15 – 30 Years)

worker pouring new concrete driveway

Driveway repairs can be complicated, depending on the type of surface you have and what is wrong with it. Asphalt driveways should be sealed every 2-4 years, to prevent cracks that allow water to get underneath, and cause heaves that will result in further damage. Concrete driveways need just as much as care, but tend to last a bit longer due to the nature of the material.

Many homeowners can handle minor patching and resurfacing on their own, but if the driveway needs to be replaced, it’s best to call in professionals, especially a concrete driveway. Your driveway is a major part of your home’s curb appeal, thus it’s one of those absolutely necessary home repair projects because it’s the first thing that visitors see.

8. Wooden Deck Replacement ($250 to $5,000 | 10 – 20 Years)

old wooden deck having new decking installed

If you judiciously take care of your wooden deck through periodic cleaning, staining and sealing, you’ll extend its life and save money at the same time. However, at some point, you’re bound to replace a board or three or four due to mold, rotting or termites.

When multiple sections are involved, opt for a total replacement, instead of replacing small portions every few years. In many cases, the joists below may still be in good condition and you can replace the decking itself with pressure treated wood or a composite wood decking versus the entire structure. Keep in mind, it may be more expensive though if you’re hiring someone to do the job.

9. Termite Treatment ($1,300 to $1,500 | Anytime)

Wooden panel eaten by termites

Termite damage is one of the most invasive insects a homeowner will face. Not only do they live within the walls and foundation, but they eat every bit of wood they come in contact with, from the inside out. In many cases, by the time you realize you have a termite problem, they’ve already done thousands of dollars in damage to your home.

Speaking of termites, if you live in an area where these buggers are common, you’re risking an even bigger expense if you don’t protect your home against these wood-eating insects. Once a colony is eradicated, you don’t have to follow any set schedule for to make sure that termites don’t return. It is wise, though, to have regular inspections to ward off any small colonies that may eventually return and cost thousands more in damage to your home’s wooden structures.

10. Tree Removal ($150 to $1,500 | Anytime)

Worker cuts down a tree with chainsaw

Tree removal is a task that homeowners rarely think they’ll have to deal with, even though it is fairly common. What’s more, many people think they can do it on their own. Frankly, it’s dangerous to remove trees if you don’t know what you are doing and the cost savings are nullified if you need to buy a chainsaw and try to do it yourself.

Limbs and trunks can fall on you when you’re just trimming a tree, causing serious injury or even death. Trees damaged by storms or killed by disease or insects, such as the Emerald Ash Borer, need removal as soon as possible as they can damage your home while also reducing the value of your property.

What Other Expensive Repairs Have You Encountered?

Jump into the comments below and share the most expensive home repairs you’ve had to take care of around your home.