How Long Can You Expect Your Roof or Fridge to Last?
IF YOU ARE BUYING OR selling a house, odds are you’re hyper-focused on the layout, the closet space and the yard – all aspects that a homeowner can’t easily change. But another important consideration is necessary home repairs. For instance, roofs are designed to be replaced every 30 years, and appliances rarely last that long. Understanding the life span of appliances and home fixtures can help you decide when to repair and when to replace.
If you’re a buyer, you may be wondering if you can get a discount on the price if a roof is going to need to be replaced soon. The most expensive components of a home are generally the roof, electrical, plumbing, furnace and air conditioning systems. The stakes are high for homeowners because replacing any one of these systems can mean a bill of four or five figures.
On the other hand, if you’re a seller, you might be worried you won’t be able to get a good price for your property if your roof or refrigerator is aging. Exactly how long your heating, plumbing, roof, air conditioning, water heater and other home components will last varies, of course, based on the quality of the items, how well they’ve been maintained and where you live.
So if you’re thinking of buying or selling a house and you’re wondering how long you can expect your roof, refrigerator and other appliances to last, keep these factors – and expected feature life spans – in mind.
If you’re a buyer, remember the seller has already considered the condition of the home and its appliances, says Mihal Gartenberg, a real estate agent with Warburg Realty in New York City. But that doesn’t mean you shouldn’t negotiate and ask for a lower price. “The quickest way a buyer can assess if the asking price reflects the home’s condition is to ask the buyer’s broker to compare its price with the past sales in the immediate vicinity,” Gartenberg says. “So, if a kitchen is old and needs replacing, but the home is the same price as a neighboring home that is move-in ready, the asking price should absolutely be negotiated down.”
Conversely, if you’re a seller, be wary of decreasing the price too much due to aging components. If the refrigerator, oven and deck have seen better days, but the home is otherwise a good home and comparable to what people would find elsewhere in your neighborhood, you should price your home competitively and seek guidance from a trustworthy real estate agent.
“Buyers almost always look for concessions to be made during the due diligence period, based on the inspection report, regardless of whether the property was listed lower due to an aging roof or air conditioning unit,” says Kara Stachel, an attorney who owns and runs a law firm and title company, Stachel Law Planning, PLLC headquartered in Fort Lauderdale, Florida. “As such, listing the property at a lower price could do the seller a disservice if the buyer then requests repair credits in spite of the lower listing price,” she adds.
“Listing the property higher gives the buyer and seller wiggle room for repair credit negotiations that are mutually agreeable to both parties and less likely to result in the buyer walking away from the contract during the due diligence period,” Stachel adds.
With that in mind, the National Association of Home Builders did a survey of manufacturers, trade associations and researchers in 2007 and produced a report called “The Life Expectancy of Home Components,” with estimates of life spans for everything from appliances to windows. Based on the association’s research and the research of others, such as the International Association of Certified Home Inspectors (also known as InterNACHI), here is how long you can expect these 10 home components to last.
Slate, copper and tile roofs can last more than 50 years. Homeowners with wood shake roofs should expect them to last about 30 years, while fiber cement shingles last about 25 years and asphalt shingle/composition roofs last about 20 years, the NAHB found. Climate and weather conditions, such as snow, hail and hurricanes, can cut the life span of all types of roofs.
Air Conditioning System
Central air conditioning systems typically last 10 to 15 years. For a window air conditioner, InterNACHI suggests five to seven years. Having your unit serviced every year or two, keeping filters clean and trimming bushes around the outdoor unit can keep it working longer, but eventually the components wear out. Before you buy an air conditioning system, water heater or any other costly appliance, keep energy efficiency in mind to prevent your utility bill from soaring. You may also want to check with your utility provider to inquire if rebates or incentives for buying certain appliances are available, or consult EnergyStar.gov for additional tools and information.
A conventional electric or gas water heater typically lasts about 10 years. If you have a tankless water heater, expect it to stick around for about 20 years.
Expect most popular appliances to last no more than 15 years: refrigerators (nine to 13 years), ranges (13 to 17 years), washers and dryers (five to 13 years) and dishwashers (nine years), InterNACHI reports. As for microwaves, the NAHB estimates the life span to be nine years. In its report, the NAHB also noted that appliances are often replaced before they quit working because consumers want new styles or technology.
Because of weather, the life span of a deck varies. In optimal conditions, a wood deck can last 20 years, the NAHB study found. A deck can last 20 to 25 years in dry areas, but is likely to last only 10 to 15 years in the South, where there is more rain and humidity.
Exterior doors made of fiberglass, steel and wood will last for decades, or the lifetime of the house, as will closet doors, according to the NAHB study. Screen doors last about 40 years, and vinyl doors typically last about 20 years.
Wood floors last 100 years or more, as do marble and slate floors if they are maintained well. Tile floors can last 75 to 100 years, and terrazzo floors last more than 75 years. Linoleum lasts about 25 years and vinyl up to 50 years, while laminate floors have a life expectancy of 15 to 25 years. Most carpet needs to be replaced every eight to 10 years, even if it’s maintained well.
Aluminum gutters last about 20 years, while copper gutters last about 50 years.
Wood windows can last more than 30 years, while aluminum windows are expected to last 15 to 20 years.