Congratulations, you’re officially a homeowner! If you’ve got a lot of questions about maintaining your new property, you’re not alone. We’ve curated a few simple tips every homeowner should abide by—no matter if your house is brand new, or decades old. Check out our step-by-step list for everything you should do after buying your house:
- Get properly insured
- Check your foundation & attic insulation
- Find your circuit breaker box
- Locate your main water shut-off valve
- Hire qualified contractors
- Use caution when drilling into walls
- Call 811 before you dig
1. Get Insured (properly)
If you just bought a new home with a new mortgage, you may be required to purchase homeowners insurance. Not all insurance is created equal, so you’ll want to know what yours covers – and more importantly, what it doesn’t. For instance, if you live somewhere that regularly is at risk of flooding, you might have to invest in a separate insurance for flood damage.
As a homeowner, it’s also wise to consider insurance not specifically labeled for housing. For instance, if you share a home with anyone who depends on you financially to pay the mortgage, a life insurance policy might be a good idea. If you die unexpectedly, this insurance policy will ensure that they won’t lose the house. Disability income insurance can also come in handy. If you are ever injured and unable to work, disability income insurance will help your bill payments during the time you cannot work.
2. Check Your Foundation & Attic Insulation
Often, this step can be included in a walk-through when your home shopping. In fact, you can even hire an inspector to do an assessment before you purchase a home. Otherwise, when checking your foundation, make sure that the ground around it slopes away from your home at least 6 inches over the span of 10 feet. This can help guarantee that any rain and melting snow won’t cause structural damage to the foundation. You’ll also want to look for small cracks and caulk them before they become bigger and weaken your foundation.
As for your attic insulation, double-check that the tops of your floor joists aren’t visible. If they are, your home isn’t insulated sufficiently. Adequate insulation doesn’t just keep you comfortable, it can also improve your home’s energy efficiency. In fact, you can save up to 30 percent on your energy bill with good insulation!
3. Find Your Circuit Breaker Box
Don’t be left in the dark when a fuse blows! When you move into a new home, take the time to find your circuit breaker box. This can be especially important in older homes, as several plugs may run on one breaker. Once you find the breaker box, take the time to figure out which part of the house each fuse affects and label it accordingly.
4. Locate Your Main Water Shut-off Valve
While you’re out looking for your circuit breaker box, keep an eye out for your main water shut-off valve, which is helpful when you’re tackling clogs or burst pipes. In fact, non-weather related water damage is among one of the most common claims on homeowners’ insurance policies, so knowing where your water shut-off valve is a must!
In colder climate areas, the water shut-off valve is typically found inside, often in the basement. Warmer climates, on the other hand, tend to have the valve outside, either attached to a wall or underground. It’s important to note that a curb stop shutoff requires a special tool like a crescent wrench to operate.
5. Hire Qualified Contractors
The next few steps will depend on your approach to repairs, renovations and any landscaping or decor you decide to do. First, if you decide to do any improvements or repairs that you don’t feel qualified for, consider hiring a professional. Yes, there are tons of YouTube videos and DIY projects on the web, but sometimes going it on your own isn’t a good thing. A qualified contractor can take care of large repairs that you could otherwise botch or make worse, saving you time and money in the long run.
6. Use Caution When Drilling into Walls
It’s inevitable: you’re going to hang things on your walls. Before you take a drill to your wall, however, you’ll want to be careful: use a stud sensor to check for cables, ducts, studs, and cables. The last thing you want is to damage something vital. Even as you use the stud sensor, keeping your drilling to a maximum of 1 1/4 inches into the wall. This will guarantee you clear the plaster and drywall, but ensure you don’t hit any cables or wires the sensor may have missed.
7. Call 811 Before You Dig
If it’s time to do some landscaping like installing a fence or planting bushes or trees, you need to make sure to know what’s below before you dig. Call 811 is the national dig-safely hotline and should be contacted before you ever put a shovel to the ground. They will send someone out to mark where all underground wires, cables, and pipes are located so you never accidentally hit something important. Doing this will save you and your neighbors; you could cut a cable line and cause a neighborhood-wide outage.
Owning a home can be daunting, but it’s doable. Start homeownership off right with our basic tips and ensure your home is always running smoothly with a home warranty policy!