When you buy a home, you’re not just making a purchase, you’re taking on a responsibility. New homeowner ranks right up there with new parent when it comes to preparing for the unexpected; there’s a lot more to home owning than just changing light bulbs.
While the challenges each new homeowner has to face are dependent on many variables, there are a few things every new homeowner should know to make their transition into their homes as smooth as possible. Unfortunately, many homeowners don’t find out about them until it’s too late, and, while it’s true that we learn from our mistakes, it’s also true that we pay for them. As they say, forewarned is forearmed.
Here are ten things a new homeowner needs to know in order to avoid paying for mistakes by not making them in the first place.
1. New Homeowners Need Good Toolboxes
Along with the title of new homeowner come the titles of curtain hanger, picture hanger, fixer of small leaks, and general carpenter. As jack of all trades, you’ll want to be handy with the tools for each one, or at least a good number of them.
The basic tools for new homeowners include an electric drill, a ladder, measuring tape, and a stud finder. (wrench and pliers might also be worthwhile investments). Stash them in your arsenal and you’ll be ready for any sneak attacks your home can throw at you. Such as….
2. Turning Off the Water Valve
You don’t want to wait for a busted pipe to learn how to turn off your water valve. Not only will the rushing water prove to be a major distraction, but also, every minute you spend trying to locate the valve will mean more water flowing into your basement.
To keep damage to a minimum, locate your water valve before an emergency strikes and learn to shut off the gas and power lines while you’re at it.
Bonus tip: Turn off your main water valve when you’re on vacation to prevent unpleasant surprises when you get home.
3. Know Thine Neighbors
Whether it’s borrowing a cup of flour or keeping a set of spare keys around for when you misplace yours, a neighbor can be an invaluable resource for a new homeowner. Good relationships with neighbors not only help to keep tensions down, but they can also be crucial when you need assistance in emergency situations. It doesn’t hurt to pop over with a pie!
4. Energy Costs
You don’t have to be a new homeowner to know how important it is to keep energy use to a minimum. However, when the utility bills come out of your pocket, energy conservation takes on a new meaning. Energy bills can be alarmingly expensive, but there are small changes you can make to keep them from getting out of hand:
Keep the thermometer on your water heater set to 120 degrees, switch out your prehistoric lightbulbs for new LED energy efficient bulbs, and schedule home energy audits on a regular basis and if possible. Also, invest in energy saving appliances whenever possible. They may cost more up front, but they’ll save you money in the long run.
5. Tax Breaks
Another duty new homeowners may want to add to their evergrowing list is accounting. Did you know that you can deduct interest of up to $1 million dollars of debt used to make home improvements? Knowing how to itemize can make you eligible for a plethora of deductions, including unreimbursed employee expenses, charitable contributions, and even state and local sales tax reduction.
Moreover, if you invest in energy efficient appliances, you may be eligible for tax breaks. Click here to find out which energy-saving home improvements will leave you with a little extra ca-ching in your bank account at the end of the tax year.
6. Identifying Issues In Your House
Unfortunately, there is no alarm that goes off to warn you that your house needs repair. There’s no safety alert on your phone (at least, not yet), and there are no flashing lights or screaming sirens. As a new homeowner, you want to be able to spot the issues in your home before emergencies situations happen. That means knowing what to look for.
After you purchase your new home, it’s a good idea to learn about the common issues that most homeowners face. Spotting small troubles before they escalate can save you a lot of heartaches and prevent further damage to your home. Here are some of the most typical home headaches and telltale symptoms.
- Roof leaks: Musty odors, water stains on the ceiling, missing and warped shingles on the home’s exterior can all be signs of a roof leak.
- Foundation Problems: Gaps between walls and windows or warped floors and ceilings can mean the house’s foundation is pulling them apart.
- Basement flooding and leaks: Damp floors and small puddles of water can mean you’re about to get into a lot of “hot” water.
7. Change the Locks and Get New Keys Made
Buying a new house may mean opening new doors, but it’s probably best that you keep the ones on your house locked. Changing locks is one the easier duties of a new homeowner and also relatively inexpensive. You might even think of changing locks as a homeowner’s rite of initiation, a way of marking your territory if you will; plus it’s always better to be safe than sorry.
Speaking of which, while you’re getting those locks changed, remember to get copies of the keys made and give them to some trusted neighbors. If not being able to get into your home isn’t bad enough, the price of a locksmith can add insult to injury.
8. Planting Trees Near Your House
If you’re a new homeowner, adding greenery to your scenery is the way to go. These days going green means saving green, and planting trees around your house is a great way to do both.
The best trees to plant are the deciduous; the kind that lose their leaves in the fall. They’ll provide shade to keep your house cool in the summer and lose their leaves in the winter to let in sunlight for increased warmth.
As an added bonus: Mature trees around your home can increase property value. Maybe money grows on trees after all!
9 . Replace Air Filters
Cleaner air in the environment has to start somewhere. Replacing air filters in your home is not only a good way to ensure the air in your personal space stays clean and healthy, but it can also extend the life of your furnace.
Change your air filter as soon as you move into your house and mark it on your calendar. Repeat every 60 days, 30 if allergies and pets are a problem. Do your share for cleaner air inside and outside of your home. You’ll breathe a whole lot easier!
Pro-tip: Write the date on the filter itself before you install it. Or just make it a first of the month practice.
10. Hang a Clothes Line
Even the most energy efficient home dryer can’t save you as much money as a good old clothes line. Hanging a clothes rack in your backyard not only means saving a few bucks for you, it models good behavior to the neighbors. Who knows? You might end up being something of a neighborhood trendsetter.
If you can manage to hang a few of the delicates and tees, you can cut down on the dryer load by a good percentage. Take that percentage out of the amount of time you’ll need to spend running your dryer, and that adds up to a little extra energy saving gold. Just think – with the wind doing the work for you, energy saving can be a breeze!