A majority of home buyers—57%—encountered unexpected home projects within the first 12 months of ownership, and more than three-fourths had an emergency home repair, a new study reveals. 

According to HomeAdvisor’s True Cost Guide, the average homeowner spends 1% of their home purchase price on unforeseen repairs and emergencies each year. Broken heating and cooling systems, water leaks, and blocked pipes were among the most common emergency repairs reported by homeowners in the survey, often costing anywhere from $199 to fix a clogged drain to $2,068 to repair water damage.

There are a number of ways that builders can prepare buyers for these types of repairs and upgrades. To build trust with clients and help new owners avoid buyer’s remorse, builders should focus on educating buyers on the projected costs of homeownership that arise within the first year.

Marianne Cusato, designer and special housing advisor to HomeAdvisor, suggests looping buyers in on the lifespan and warranty of elements in the home—such as appliances, mechanical features, roofs, and windows—and helping them plan ahead for inevitable replacement schedules for home equipment. Encouraging buyers to get home inspections can help them avoid future emergency expenses before purchase, and pointing clients to resources for pricing validation can aid in calculating upcoming costs.

“Beyond emergency repairs, it can be helpful for builders to provide a simple menu of options for upgrades so homeowners can buy in at the level they feel comfortable,” she says.

First impressions are important, and homeowners report spending the most on improvement projects that increase curb appeal. Homeowners spend an average of $12,850 on outdoor projects such as installing a wood fence, building a deck, or hiring a lawn care professional according to HomeAdvisor's True Cost Guide. While this number causes sticker shock for new homeowners, builders shouldn't take it as a sign to add in more landscaping during construction, Cusato says.

“It is important in the balancing act of building a home to allocate resources towards creating the best possible physical structure,” she says. “Landscaping elements can be added and personalized over time while structural requirements, such as hurricane straps or upgrading to a more efficient window, provide the best value up front.”