Seven ways to get free or discounted home repairs

Jene J. Long

AS property values and taxes have climbed throughout the country, some homeowners are turning to home repair assistance programs for the big fixes.

If you’re facing an expensive repair, help may be available.

A water heater can cost $480 to repair and nearly $1,100 to replace


A water heater can cost $480 to repair and nearly $1,100 to replaceCredit: GETTY

Being a homeowner has its upsides, but it can also be incredibly expensive; roofs leak, windows shatter, and appliances break down.

There are a few federal home repair programs, as well as state and local non-profits, offering help to those who qualify.

If you’re looking at a costly repair, you could especially benefit from a program before paying out of pocket.

HomeAdvisor reports the average roof repair is $653, while the average replacement is $6,626.

For a furnace repair, its $267, which doesn’t seem so bad compared to the replacement cost of $4,376.

Another expensive item: boilers. They are $350 to fix and roughly $4,000 to replace.

Here are some programs to help with expenses, if you’re faced with an unexpected issue.

1. HUD Title 1 property improvement loans

Through the US Department of Housing and Urban Development (HUD), you can get a fixed-rate loan to fund any sort of home repair or improvement.

The maximum loan for a single family home is $25,000.

For multifamily homes, the maximum is $60,000.

To qualify, the applicant has to show proof they can repay the loan through regular monthly payments.

2. 203(k) rehabilitation mortgage insurance

This allows homeowners to borrow up to $35,000 through their mortgage for home repairs or improvements.

All applications must be submitted through an FHA approved lender.

To qualify for a loan, the cost of the repair or improvement must be at least $5,000.

3. Section 504 home repair program

This program gives loans to homeowners to repair or generally improve their homes.

These loans have a low fixed rate of 1% and a repayment period of 20 years.

The maximum loan amount is $20,000.

To qualify, the household income must be below 50% of median income in that area.

4. VA rehab and renovation loans

The US Department of Veterans Affairs offers a loan option for veterans.

These loans works similar to the 203(k) loan program, and loans are capped out at the property’s estimated value.

To qualify, borrowers must meet VA loan requirements.

5. Home modification loans

Intended for seniors and the disabled, this program can help secure low-cost or free home repairs.

These loans are offered through state and local agencies, rather than the federal government.

The National Directory of Home Modification and Repair Resources can be searched by state for more resources.

6. State and community programs

Depending on where you live, you may qualify for a local program.

One such program for DC residents was recently spotlighted by DCist.

Although the program, known as the Single Family Residential Rehabilitation Program, has its own challenges and has struggled to keep up with the growing need, it still provides a welcome benefit for those in Washington, DC.

To qualify, applicants must meet the following criteria:

  • Own and live in their homes as their primary residence for at least three years
  • Be current on all district and federal taxes
  • Have a credit report that shows current payments on all mortgages for the last 12 months
  • Possess current homeowners insurance
  • Meet the household income limits

7. Charities

If you would rather not take out a loan for assistance with your repairs, charities are a good source for straight forward assistance.

A few charities offering assistance include:

The Sun covers updates to universal basic income here.

Also, see how homeowners are spending twice as much on home improvements since before the pandemic and hear millennials discuss home ownership and home repairs.

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