As proud new homeowners last year, my husband and I basked in the glow of grown-upness for 15 minutes or so. Then the dishwasher broke. We had remembered to account for taxes and our homeowners insurance, but what about the other little surprises? And by that, I don't mean the cute wallpaper you suddenly realize is perfect for the foyer. I mean, like when the plumbing fails just as your in-laws walk through the door. Or what happened to home-renovation blogger Katy Elliott
right after she moved into her Massachusetts house: the pipes backed up because they were filled with mysterious roots
. And the mosaic-tile fund goes to an emergency visit from the special pipes guy. Mortgage resource site HSH.com suggests that homeowners set aside 1 percent of their home's value per year for unexpected costs. On a $300,000 house, that's $3,000 for the year.