Congratulations, you're a homeowner! Before you start looking at paint swatches and new furniture, you'll need to prepare for the responsibilities that come with owning all of that square footage, including home maintenance. Here are several things every new homeowner should have.
A Go-To Professional
It's a good idea to be proactive when it comes to finding the right HVAC specialist, exterminator, plumber, etc. If a pipe bursts or your heating system stops working, the last thing you'll want to be doing is scrolling through reviews to find a highly-recommended maintenance person. Ask your friends, family and neighbors who they use for home maintenance issues.
Before moving into your new home, it's a good idea to have an exterminator spray for routine nuisances, especially if the home has been vacant for awhile. Depending on the last service date, it's also a good idea to have your heating and cooling systems inspected, cleaned and serviced.
A burglary happens approximately every 15 seconds in the U.S. A break-in can be financially and emotionally devastating, so move-in time is a great time to take precautions in securing your new home. At a minimum:
- Make sure all entry doors have a working deadbolt installed.
- Invest in a secured mailbox.
- Make sure entrances are well-lit and can easily be seen from the street.
- Keep shrubs and bushes trimmed away from windows.
- Change the locks after closing. You don't know who the previous homeowners gave copies to.
For more ways to keep your home safe, click here.
A Basic Tool Kit
As you begin to make your first home, your home you'll need some tool and maintenance necessities. At a minimum, stock your first tool kit with the following items:
- Screwdriver (flathead and Phillips, both in multiple sizes)
- Pliers (needlenose and locking)
- Allen wrenches
- Socket & wrench set
- Crescent wrench
- Putty knife
- Utility knife
- Tape measure
- Stud finder
A Home Maintenance Savings Plan
While you're probably busy thinking about purchasing patio furniture or splurging on window treatments, it's a good idea to start setting aside some money for any home maintenance issues that might come up in the future. Afterall, no one plans on their HVAC system dying.
A popular rule of thumb for homeowners is to set aside one percent of their home's purchase price each year for ongoing maintenance, whether that be used toward a big ticket item like a new fridge or smaller items like sealant for the deck or furnace filters.
A Fire Deterrent Plan
The last thing you want to think of as a new homeowner is a damaging house fire, but home fires are a bigger reality than most people think. In 2013 alone, U.S. fire departments responded to an estimated 369,500 home structure fires.
When you move into your home, it's vital that you:
- Test smoke detectors monthly & replace batteries twice a year.
- Develop a fire escape plan (draw it out if you have small children).
- Make sure windows are not stuck and screens can be removed easily.
- Buy a fire extinguisher and keep it in your kitchen.
- Have your chimney swept at least once a year prior to the heating season (another home maintenance referral to ask from family and friends).
A Reliable Neighbor
Whether you're going out of town for a few days and need someone to keep an eye on your home or you need a cup a sugar, creating good relationships with your neighbors is a must. After moving in, introduce yourself to your adjacent and across-the-street neighbors. When and if you become comfortable enough, ask to exchange phone numbers in case of emergency and leave them with an extra key for the unfortunate times you lock yourself out.
For more helpful information about being a first-time homebuyer, download our free Mortgage 101 Handbook.