How Much Will You Spend on Home Updates before You Pay off Your Mortgage?

Here's a brief list of expenses you can expect to incur over the next 30 years:
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You’ve finally found your dream home! You bought it, moved in, and have reviewed all your finances to make sure you can cover the mortgage payments every month. Now, you’re on track to own your home outright in just 30 short years.


Like you, we wish owning a home was that simple. Unfortunately, though, there are other regular and irregular expenses that come with homeownership. And it’s important to anticipate those.

Every home is different. And not all homes may need these updates as regularly as listed below. But as a baseline, this post should help you determine how much you will spend on home updates before you pay off your mortgage.

Here’s a brief list of expenses it would be wise to plan for over the next 30 years:

Roof Replacement

Let’s start at the top! A house isn’t much of a home without a good roof over your head. And by the time you notice leaks seep into your living room, other damage has been done. Be proactive about roof replacement. Here’s a quick guideline for the lifecycle of your roof:

  • Composition shingles: 12–20 years
  • Asphalt shingles: 15–30 years
  • Wood shingles: 20–25 years
  • Rubber roofs: 30–50 years
  • Metal roofs: 50–75 years

Based on those numbers, as well as the existing age of your roof, you should expect to replace it at least once or twice in 30 years.

Average cost of replacement: $5,500–$11,000 each time

Gutters and Downspouts

One of the best ways to keep your roof in good shape, as well as keeping water out of your basement or crawlspace, is to take care of your gutters and downspouts. Regular cleaning will help prolong their lifespans, but eventually, they too will need to be replaced. Typically, galvanized steel or aluminum gutters have an average life expectancy of 20 years, while copper gutters can last as long as 50 years.

Based on those numbers, as well as the existing age of your gutters, you should expect to replace them once in 30 years. Gutter installation costs $7–$33 per linear foot.

Average cost of replacement: $3,000

Uncovered Decks

Spending time outside is a priority these days. And one of the easiest spaces for indoor-outdoor living is your back deck. Cleaning and treating your deck can help it stay in shape longer. But depending on the materials from which it’s constructed, you’ll have to replace it one day. Here are the guidelines from the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors:

  • Wood planks: 15 years
  • Structural wood: 10–30 years
  • Composite decking: 8–25 years

That means, depending on the age of your deck today and what it’s constructed of, you may have to replace it up to four times in 30 years. Including materials and labor, a standard deck will cost roughly $30–$60 per square foot.

Average cost of replacement: $4,000–$11,000 each time


From your deck, you want to overlook lush, healthy landscaping. But even healthy plants get old. While some trees may last generations, others, such as ornamental trees, may live only 15–20 years. Even perennials that can live indefinitely will need care, dividing, or replacing.

In addition, organic mulch normally lasts 5–6 years at most. So you should expect to replace that at least half a dozen times over the course of your mortgage.

Projected cost of maintenance and replacement: $2,000–$16,000 over 30 years


A chain is only as strong as its weakest link, so they say. And your property’s fence, your security from the outside world, is the same. Many sources say that wood fences should be replaced every 10 years. Though, some say with proper maintenance, your fence could last 20–50 years, depending on the material.

For the sake of this list, let’s say you stain and seal your wood fence every other year. Or you hose off your vinyl fence, or prevent vines from growing through and damaging your metal fence. In that case, you may need to replace your fence once or twice in 30 years. Fence installation costs between $13 and $50 per linear foot.

Average cost of replacement: $1,667–$4,075 each time

Swimming Pool

Owning a swimming pool may be a dream, but maintaining one can be a real chore! If you don’t already have a swimming pool on your property, we don’t recommend adding one. But if you do, we guarantee it will cost money to maintain. For one, you will need to drain your pool and replace the water every 5–7 years at the maximum. Depending on the size of your pool and type of filter, you should replace your filter every 2–15 years. 

And then there’s the pool itself. Here are some general guidelines for the three major types of in-ground pools:

  • Pools with vinyl liners will last more than 20 years, as long as you replace your liner every 6–12 years.
  • Concrete pools have similar longevity, but you need to resurface the concrete every 10 years or so. 
  • Fiberglass pools have the longest lifespans of any in-ground pool, often easily surpassing 30 years.

Based on these numbers and your type of pool, it’s hard to give a general cost estimate over a 30-year span. But here’s the cost range for a new pool, assuming you may have to start from scratch: $30,000–$100,000.


Nothing should get in the way of your long-range views of our gorgeous Blue Ridge Mountains! And that includes your windows. The rule of thumb given by window professionals is that they should be replaced every 15–20 years. Vinyl window companies often provide a 20–25 year product warranty, which covers the expected lifetime of the product, and then some.

Based on these numbers, you should expect to replace your windows at least once in 30 years.

Average cost of replacement: $200–$1,800 per window, each time


One of the easiest ways to waste money is by letting it leak away through old insulation. Sure, you can take active measures to winterize your home every year. But without proper installation in place, you could be spinning your wheels. Like our other home features, different types of insulation have different lifespans, if undamaged:

  • Cellulose: 15–30 years
  • Mineral wood: 30–80 years
  • Spray foam: 75 years or more 
  • Fiberglass: 80–100 years

In that case, if you have a new home with fiberglass insulation, you may never have to think about it at all. But if you bought an older home, or you’ve invested in eco-friendly cellulose insulation, you may need to replace what you have at some point.

Average cost to replace attic insulation: $2,500


Bad wiring may be one of the most dangerous home issues there is. Luckily, most older homes have been upgraded since the days of knob and tube. However, even modern wiring goes bad eventually. According to

Electrical wiring has a life expectancy of 50–70 years. The copper in electrical wiring can last over 100 years; however, the outer protective sheathing will degrade much sooner. Plastic sheathed wiring lasts longer than fabric sheathed wiring commonly found in pre-1970 houses. Wiring older than 1970 likely is near the end of its useful life.

And it’s not just the wires themselves that could need updating. When problems occur, you usually also need to replace the outlets, switches, panel, and most fixtures, as well.

Average cost of replacement: $8,000


Other than wiring, replacing a home’s plumbing may be the most complicated project to undertake. Especially in the case of a plumbing emergency, and not in conjunction with other updates. The lifespans for the most common residential plumbing systems are:

  • Galvanized steel: 20–50 years
  • Brass: 40–70 years
  • Copper: 50 or more years
  • Cast iron: 75–100 years
  • Polyvinyl chloride: Indefinitely

Luckily, if you are dealing with aging plumbing proactively, you could replace it one fixture at a time. Repiping an existing home with PEX tubing costs $0.40–$2.00 per linear foot.

Average cost of full-home replacement: $3,100–$5,500


The average lifespan of an HVAC unit ranges 10–20 years. But even while your HVAC is still functional, it is becoming steadily less efficient. And lower efficiency costs you money. Take care of your heater and air conditioner by changing the filters and having it inspected regularly. That will help you maintain as much efficiency as possible (and improve the quality of the air in your home!). Plus, your regular HVAC technician will help you determine when you replace your unit before it dies on you completely. 

Based on these numbers, you should expect to replace your HVAC around twice in 30 years.

Average cost of replacement: $7,000 ($25–$60 per square foot of coverage) each time

Water Heater

How often do you think about your water heater? Now, how quickly do you think you’d notice if it suddenly stopped working? If your water heater is approaching 10 years in age, it’s time to consider replacing it.

Best case scenario, a tank water heater should last 6–12 years, while a tankless water heater can last for more than 20 years. Proper care and maintenance can help extend its life some. But regardless of care and which one you have, you’ll have to replace your water heater at least once over the course of your mortgage—and perhaps as many as five times!

Average cost of replacement: $1,176


There’s never a good time for issues with your septic system. Even well maintained systems require periodic inspections, pumping, and maintenance. (As a general rule, you should ideally empty out your septic tank once every 3–5 years.) 

It’s pretty common for a septic system itself to last 40 years or longer. That means, if you own a new home, you might never need to replace it. However, if you have an older home whose septic system has been in place for nearly half a century, it could be time to take action. Don’t wait too long on this one. Trust us.

Average cost of replacement: $6,361


You don’t “replace a bathroom” the same way you replace a hot water heater. But if you bought an older home, you may need to replace some or all of the fixtures over the course of your 30-year mortgage term.

Separate from cosmetic upgrades, low- to mid-range bathroom improvements could include things like re-caulking the tub, replacing bathroom fixtures, and installing water saving features. Additional problems like leaky faucets, running toilets, and rotten plumbing (see above) can cause a number of issues and should be addressed immediately. But the good news is, these small improvements could generate a positive ROI in the long run!

Costs could run you $5 to replace a handful of washers to as much as $7,600 on average for a completely new bathroom.


Similarly to bathrooms, it’s hard to nail down what issues you’ll have in your kitchen over a 30-year span. However, industry experts recommend that you renovate your kitchen every 10–15 years. After this amount of time, your kitchen will have endured a sufficient amount of wear and tear to justify new cabinets and surfaces. In addition, design styles and preferences will have changed—and perhaps your personal needs will have, as well. Also, kitchen renovations can help you improve functionality, especially as appliances improve over time (see below).

Average cost of a kitchen remodel: $12,567–$34,962 each time


You use your major home appliances on a daily, or perhaps weekly, basis. But like anything mechanical, wear and tear eventually, well, wears them out. There’s no universal lifespan for every major appliance in your home. However, most will last anywhere between 10–15 years. That means, you should plan to replace each at least twice over the course of 30 years. But the good news is that appliances continue to become more energy efficient. So while replacing them will cost you money up front, it could save you some in the long run.

Pro tip: Look for holiday sales that save you money up front, and invest in warranties that could save you money over the lifetime of the appliance.

Here are some general replacement costs to consider:

  • Refrigerator: $1,000–$2,000
  • Dish washer: $970 (with installation)
  • Oven/Range: $300–$2,200
  • Garbage disposal: $50–$350 (with installation)
  • Washing machine: $250–$2,050
  • Dryer: $200–$1,750

Additions and Upgrades

Depending on your needs and goals for your home, there could be many other long-term projects you have in mind for your property. Perhaps you’d like to add some outdoor lighting or other features to improve the value of your property. Maybe you’d like to go green, and want to add an array of solar panels to your roof. Or maybe the upgrades you have in mind are purely cosmetic, and you plan to tackle them one home renovation at a time.

Other home features that you may need to replace or upgrade over time include:

Whatever the case may be, we hope that this list has inspired you to think through your plans in more detail. It pays to prioritize your home improvement projects while also planning for expenses you may not foresee. After all, a lot can happen in 30 years!

Projected costs: $??? (up to you!)

What are your home improvement priorities? Share your plans with us in the comments!

All real estate is local. In order to make confident real estate decisions, it’s important to have timely and neighborhood-specific information. Contact us today to speak with a Beverly-Hanks real estate agent about adding value to your property through home renovation projects.

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