Congratulations! You bought a house! Now what?
If you are a first-time homeowner, your to-do list might be quite sizable. Your previous residence, whether a rental or your parents’ basement, likely required little maintenance on your part. That’s all about to change, so let’s make sure you are prepared.
For those more experienced homeowners who are upgrading, down-sizing, or anything in between, the good news is: you’ve done this before! You probably already own some of the essential items; however, there is still a lot of work ahead.
Aside from the giant task of moving your belongings to your awaiting abode, keep these other things in mind during this very busy and exciting time:
1. SAFETY FIRST
I’m sure the previous homeowner was a lovely person, but that doesn’t mean they need the keys to your house. First up on your list - change the locks. This is a quick and easy DIY project, or you can always hire a local locksmith to save time.
Next, check your fire and carbon monoxide alarms to ensure proper function, and buy a fire extinguisher or two depending on the size of your home. It is good to keep one on hand in the kitchen and another in the garage. If your home has multiple floors or fireplaces, consider additional extinguishers.
Finally, if you have small children, install safety locks on cupboards and drawers containing dangerous household items (knives, cleaning solutions, medications, etc.). Placing these items out of a child’s reach is typically best but not always an option, so take the time to properly secure any low-lying hazards.
2. SPREAD THE WORD
Get out that stack of bills, and get ready to make some calls. You need to let everyone know where you are going. The USPS has an easy online guide to complete to ensure your mail forwards to the correct location. After that, follow up with your employer, bank, credit card company, Secretary of State, and any other party who would be interested in your whereabouts.
3. YOU ARE NOW A LANDSCAPER…WHO WORKS FOR FREE
One of the biggest adjustments to homeownership involves the work required outside the walls of the actual house. The lawn will take up a fair amount of time but can be enjoyable if you are up for the challenge. Not sure how often to cut your grass? Scotts provides a quick guide to help you learn the ropes, while Sears tailors this advice to the correct length for each type of grass.
Overwhelmed by all of this information? Follow this simple rule: never remove more than 1/3 of the grass blade at a time, regardless of the species. Still overwhelmed? Hire someone to handle the mowing and maintenance for you.
4. VISIT YOUR LOCAL HARDWARE STORE
Buying a home is no small purchase, but hopefully, you have saved some cash for the items needed to maintain your home: a ladder, hose, plunger, well-stocked tool box, assorted nails and screws, drain snake and Drano, a couple good buckets, furnace filters, and maybe even a power washer or generator. You might not need these things the first week, but they are great to have available when those needs do arise – and they will arise!
And remember that part about being a landscaper? Landscapers need equipment. In your case, this means a lawn mower, a weed whip, a sturdy rake and shovel, pruning shears, work gloves, and potentially a snow blower.
You might also want to acquaint yourself with the world of perennials. These recurring plants are a homeowner’s best friend as they require less work than plants and flowers which must be planted annually. Find your favorites for the space at hand, and let them grow.
5. HOWDY, NEIGHBOR!
Make it a point to introduce yourself to the neighbors in the first week. It is good to know who is living on the other side of the fence, and they will likely give you the 411 on the local community. Furthermore, you might actually need to borrow a cup of sugar one day.
6. STAY WARM WITHOUT BURNING THROUGH YOUR CASH
One of the smartest investments you can make on the front-end of buying a house is arranging for a programmable thermostat. There are plenty of options out there, some of which (such as the popular Nest) actually allow you to control the temperature settings of your home from your smart phone.
When programming your thermostat, be sure to set the temperature lower in the night-time hours or during the day while you are away to help reduce energy consumption. Even a change of a few degrees will add up to a significant annual cost-savings.
7. WHO YOU GONNA CALL?
The home inspector just gave you the “all clear,” so one might assume you won’t need a handyman any time soon. That’s probably true, but when the time comes that you do need to hire a professional, you want some good options. Start compiling a list of reputable, tried and true service providers in your area.
If you are paying attention, you’ve already befriended your neighbor who can offer advice on their go-to guy or gal. Collect the names and phone numbers of experienced local electricians, handymen, plumbers, HVAC companies, landscapers, exterminators, and wells & pumps personnel if you are not on city water. Having a trusty service provider already plugged into your list of contacts can make a huge difference in making sure a small problem doesn’t become a gigantic disaster.
Still excited for this huge life event? You should be!
Owning a home is truly rewarding, and while a lot of responsibility and work lies ahead, the efforts you put in at the start really does make a huge difference in the end. And besides, remember what they say about idle hands?