5 Common First-Time Homeowner Mistakes

Posted by Laine Smith on 7/17/15 8:00 AM

Topics: Home Buying

As a new homeowner there are a variety of things to learn about properly maintaining a home. While you'll want to dive into making your home and yard your own with DIY projects and home maintenance, there are a few classic no's new homeowners commit. Here's a list of critically important things not to do as a new homeowner.


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Not Calling 811 before Digging

We get it, you're excited to plant a new tree or install your new fencing, but to ensure your safety, you need to call the national dig-safely hotline ahead of time. They will contact all of the utilities in your area who will come mark your property - often within a matter of a couple days - so you are aware of the location of underground pipes, cables and wires.

This is a free service which will help you dig safely and avoid significant repair costs. In most states, calling 811 is the law.

Blindly Drilling for Wall Fixtures

Investing in a stud sensor is a must for first-time homeowners. While you're trying to hang artwork, shelving and other wall fixtures, blindly drilling into your walls can do significant damage to pipes, ductwork, wires, and cables.

Stud sensors aren't foolproof, so protect yourself by only drilling 1.25 inches deep at a maximum. Stay clear of the space above and below wall switches and the horizontal area from outlet to outlet (about 8 inches to 2 feet from the floor).

Cutting Down a Tree Yourself

Mature trees add value to your property, but if there is one that has to go, call in a professional tree service. Even small trees have the potential to fall awkwardly and could possibly do significant damage to you and your neighbor's property. This is a homeowner task best left to the pros.

Not Knowing Where Your Main Water Shutoff Valve is Located

Don't wait until you have a burst pipe or plumbing issue to locate your main water shutoff. Knowing where your shutoff is located could save you thousands in water damage repairs.

Not Adding Adequate Attic Insulation

If you have an unfinished attic, inspect the current insulation. The Department of Energy estimates that a properly insulated attic can reduce heating bills by 10 to 50 percent, while also helping stabilize a home's temperature in the summer months.

There are several types of insulation material optimized for certain attic types, but the general consensus for attic insulation depth is about R-38 or 10 to 14 inches deep. It's also recommended to insulate the hatch or entry point to your attic. Thick foam board glued to the top will do the trick.

Thinking of buying your first home? Download our free Mortgage 101 Handbook for all you need to know about purchasing and financing your first home.

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