If you’ve recently purchased a new home, or if you’re about to, you’ve likely given a lot of thought to all of the responsibilities that come with it: mortgages, insurance and — sooner or later — renovations and repairs. While the responsibilities can seem overwhelming, owning a home is exciting and rewarding too. You just need to know what to do and what not to do to avoid unexpected expenses.
New Homeowner Do’s:
There are a few home maintenance projects that should top the to-do list of every new homeowner. According to a recent article, these include:
- Checking your HVAC system: If your HVAC system wasn’t serviced before you purchased the house, inspect air filters and other components for anything in need of repair or replacement.
- Inspecting gutters and downspouts: Make sure that your gutters or downspouts have been cleared of debris. If they’re clogged, moisture could build up and leak over into your roofing or foundation — a predicament that will most likely require costly repairs. Also look for cracks or holes in the system; these could cause the same issues.
- Look for leaks: Air and water leaks — whether in your insulation, your pipes or your walls — can lead to a number of issues in your home. They’re the perfect entry for pests, and they also offer a prime opportunity for air to seep out, which can force your HVAC system into overdrive. Fix leaks immediately with weatherproofing, caulking or more insulation material.
- Assess insulation: Attic and basement insulation are crucial to protecting your roof and foundation from moisture, pests and interior temperature fluctuations. If there are holes, missing pieces or other issues with your insulation, you will need to have it augmented or replaced. You can install some kinds of insulation yourself; others require the help of a professional.
- Upgrade appliances: Depending on the age of your appliances, now might be a good time to upgrade to newer, more energy-efficient models. Replacing one or more of your appliances will pay back in utility bill savings, whether you replace your washer and dryer, dishwasher, microwave or refrigerator.
New Homeowner Dont’s:
There are also some new homeowner mistakes you should avoid. Making these mistakes could lead to the need for costly repairs and renovations down the road:
- No routine care: While the house might have passed a home inspection, you need to keep it up to snuff; if you don’t, you could find yourself paying for major repairs within a year. Routine care includes seasonal maintenance like roof inspection and repair, gutter cleaning, deck repair and cleaning, and so forth. Ignoring these areas or waiting another year before attending to them could lead to more trouble — and money spent — than necessary. Don’t wait.
- Renovating too soon: Although you may have considered a kitchen or bathroom remodel going into the purchase of your home, it’s best to wait at least one year before you renovate a room. You need to get to know the house and confirm that there aren’t more crucial repairs that need your budget and attention first. Otherwise, you could get halfway through your remodel only to find that your foundation is in serious disrepair — and that you have no money to fix it.
- Overspending: As a new homeowner, you have a lot of costs to factor into your budget, including mortgage payments and an increased utility bill. If you invest in remodeling projects or landscaping in the first year — without giving yourself some time to get used to your new budget — you could end up in the red. Spend a year getting to know your new home budget, then think about spending money on improvements.
- Dreaming too big: If you don’t have the money to remodel in the first year but want to do it anyway, you might try to DIY. We’ve all watched the DIYNetwork, HGTV — programs that make it all look simple. But we have to be realistic. These DIYers are experts who have worked in the field for years. Most homeowners have no prior experience, and our projects generally show our lack of expertise. If you attempt a DIY remodel, you will likely spend thousands to have a professional redo your work.
- Taking the lowball offer: When you start hiring contractors for home projects, you’re going to run into those who quote far below the average bid. While you might be tempted to hire these pros, DON’T. As the saying goes: you get what you pay for. More than likely, you’ll end up hiring another pro to fix a shoddy job.
Being a homeowner comes with a lot of responsibility and a lot of opportunity — some of it exciting and some not so much. It’s important to keep up on routine maintenance, as well as be prepared for everything that may come your way before you invest in major home improvements. Take this quiz to see whether you’re ready to be a new homeowner or need a little more time to prepare.