The household bills you'll pay as a homeowner

First-time buyers

The household bills you'll pay as a homeowner

By Marie Kemplay

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The household bills you'll pay as a homeowner

Discover the household bills and maintenance costs you need to budget for when you buy your first home.

When you own a property, you have to pay for certain bills and expenses that you wouldn't have done as a renter. Here, we list all the costs you should budget for, some of which you may also have paid as a rental tenant and some of which will be new.

What household bills will I pay as a homeowner?

Mortgage

Your payments may vary from one month to the next depending on what type of mortgage you have. It is important to check whether you'll be able to afford your mortgage in the long term. 

You can see what your monthly payments will look like now, and also if interest rates went up by 1, 2 or 3%, using the mortgage repayment calculator on our house-buying hub.

  • Free mortgage consultation: for one-to-one advice on getting a mortgage based on your own personal circumstances, have a chat with the impartial experts at Which? Mortgage Advisers on 0808 252 7987

Utility bills

These include your electricity, gas and water bills. They will usually increase in line with inflation every year, but some energy providers increase charges at a far faster rate, so it's worth keeping an eye on this and switching if you think you're paying too much.

The energy performance certificate for the property you're buying will help you see how energy efficient the building is, which should give an indication of how much your bills will be.

Find out more: Which? Switch – save money by changing energy providers

Council tax

Properties are classified in bands ranging from A to H and, as strange as it might seem, the price you pay is usually determined by what the home was worth in 1991.

The seller or estate agent should be able to tell you which band your new home is in, or you can look it up online.

If you think your property is in the wrong council tax band and you're paying too much tax, you can appeal against your banding. But be aware that the council could decide to move your property into a more expensive band rather than a cheaper one, so you should only appeal after carefully researching what your neighbours are paying.

You can also apply for a 25% discount if you live alone or if the property is empty. 

Find out more: reducing your council tax bill – how to qualify for a lower rate

Telecoms bills

You'll probably want broadband and digital TV in your new home, and maybe a landline, too. Often, new customers will get better deals than existing ones, so it's worth shopping around and considering switching to find the best deal each year.

Find out more: haggling for the best broadband deals – people who've followed our haggling script have reported saving as much as £476 a year

TV licence

The TV licence costs £145.50 a year, although you can pay monthly. This charge is frozen until March 2017. After this date, the BBC is aiming to increase the cost in line with inflation.

Insurance

When you own a home, you'll have to pay for buildings insurance (unless you own a leasehold property). This type of insurance is required by most mortgage providers. It's also advisable to take out contents insurance to protect your belongings. 

These costs are likely to increase with inflation every year, although you can nearly always find a cheaper deal by shopping around rather than automatically renewing with your existing provider.

Find out more: best and worst home insurance providers – see how different insurers score for value for money, customer service and more

Service charges and ground rent

If you live in a flat, you'll have to factor in monthly or quarterly service charges and ground rent. Service charges are used to pay for the management and maintenance of the building's communal areas, and tend to cost between £100 and £200 a month.

Most freeholders appoint managing agents to look after communal areas, so these fees may be combined into one payment. 

Find out more: leasehold vs freehold – find out about the key differences between the two types of home ownership

Parking

If you don't have a garage, driveway or free on-street parking, you might need to budget for a local car parking permit.

Home repairs and maintenance

These costs vary from one property to another. Maintenance for smaller homes will typically cost £500 a year. For larger properties. it's likely to be in the region of £1,000. It's worth putting a bit of money aside each month so that you're prepared if you're hit with unforeseen maintenance or repairs costs.

Here are some of the most common types of maintenance that you should factor into your budget:

  • Boiler servicing: it's worth getting your boiler serviced once a year – when you come to sell your home some buyers will ask about this.
  • Electrics: you should get your electrics safety-checked every five to 10 years.
  • Decoration: cosmetic changes, such as painting and decorating rooms, will also generally need to be done every five to 10 years. 
  • Renovations: one-off renovation work, such as replacing kitchens and bathrooms, might be done every 10-20 years.

First-time buyer video: unexpected costs when buying a property

First-time buyers Chris, Lydia and Amanda talk about the unexpected costs they faced when buying their first homes and offer practical tips to help you budget for them.

 

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Video transcript

We're thinking, we know this is going to be a mortgage coming out, mortgage payments, that's about 1,000 a month. We know what our total income is. We spoke to this mortgage advisor inside the bank, and we went through all the questions, like foods, clothes, going out, petrol, and I think you ask the questions, you probably, you think could be an honest, but you don't really know because you've never done these things before, and how much do I spend on food, how much is gas and electricity, how much is it for the place we bought, we don't really know, so we needed to make sure that when we move in, we're not going to be screwed over for money and just want to keep track of on the back account as the months get past, and don't make any extravagant purchase. I think, actually, you probably feel it, you've just moved into a house, let's buy stuff, let's fill it up, we're okay now, but you're probably not okay because you don't know how much you got to pay for stuff yet.

So I guess the advice would be, after moving in, don't go spending all your money, there's going to be things you want like sofas, and there's going to be decorations you are going to want to, but you don't really know how much outgoings are going to be yet, so just wait three or four months, get an idea how much is costing you, then you know what you can do with the rest of the money?

We've bought a house that's in a block, and block of flats, and that tends to be the case in London, and there will be certain costs associated with that, and we literally just scrapped through. About a year before we bought here, they did a massive 2000,000 project to renovate all of the blocks which cost each flat individual about 9000, so we just missed out on having to pay for that, and you get a specific period of time to pay that off, so if it's more than 5000, you get maybe five years, if it's less than 5000, you get two years to pay off but it's still something that you have to consider, and because we're in such a big block, there's lots of service charges, is quite high, and in addition to any works that are going to happen to always ask and check if there're going to be any work within the next year or so just so you could prepare yourself financially for that, and if there are, then you have to think, if it's going to be 10,000, am I really simply going to have that pay off and if not, then you may have to think again.

 

  • Last updated: August 2016
  • Updated by: Marie Kemplay