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Essential Homeowner Maintenance Tips

February 15, 2018

Buying a home brings on all the feels. It’s a crazy mix of excitement, nervousness, joy, and total overwhelm. But once the ink on the contract is drying and the movers are scheduled, it’s time to start transitioning from a home buyer to a home owner — namely by getting essential maintenance squared away. Here’s what comes next.

Have the House Inspected
If you didn’t ask for a home inspection before you bought, now is the time to take this crucial step (for future reference, though, it’s much wiser to get this done before you sign your name on the dotted line). In many cases, of course, your offer will be contingent on a successful home inspection, so completing one may well determine your future purchase.

Home inspectors can identify structural, electrical, and plumbing issues that may cause headaches down the line. Good ones will check off all the major boxes, looking at your roof, your foundation, your HVAC system and plumbing, and your circuit breaker and fuses. For peace of mind, they’ll put eyes on other systems as well, like garbage disposals and sump pumps, checking for leaks as they go. They’ll put it all down in an inspector’s report so you’ll know what, if any, issues need to be addressed immediately or in the near future.

Do yourself a favor and research your inspector before you call. Look for inspectors that hold a certification from the American Society of Home Inspectors (ASHI). Whatever you do, don’t just go with the one recommended by your realtor — you may not get the quality you deserve!

Know Your Essential Utility Shutoff Points
Even if you examined every corner of your new home on the walkthrough and had an inspection performed, there may be some crucial details you overlooked involving utilities. As a new homeowner, you want to make note of emergency shutoff valves located throughout your home, such as your main water valve, circuit breaker box, and gas shutoff (if you have one).

The water valve usually sits on a pipe outside, next to your water meter. The circuit breaker box is usually located in your basement, garage, or another inconspicuous place, like a utility closet. The gas valve sits either outside your home by the gas meter or inside on the gas line leading to the furnace or water heater. Of course, if you have all electric appliances, you don’t have to worry about that. Either way, you should locate these important shutoff points before an emergency.

Landscaped path in a garden area. Photo courtesy of Tirachard Kumtanom.

Consider Landscape Care and Upkeep
For some buyers, caring for the lawn is one of the joys of home ownership; for others, it’s nothing but a hassle. But preserving that curb appeal is a big part of maintaining a home, and for some homeowners, keeping a well-manicured lawn may also be part of your agreement with an HOA.

And that means making some decisions about how you want your lawn to look. Are you interested in adding new features, like a deck or walkway? Do you want to mow the grass yourself or hire a professional? And what about your sprinkler system? Do you need to have one installed? These are all questions you should ask yourself to get a good sense of your landscaping and maintenance needs.

Pest-Proof Your Home
It’s not the most glamorous part of owning a home, by any means, but you’ll be glad you took care of pest prevention early, before you have a problem. Some homeowners simply have an exterminator arrive at the house before they move in or set off a bug bomb themselves. Others hire a service to treat for pests regularly as part of their home maintenance regimen. Additionally, many new homeowners choose to have their homes inspected for termites, just in case.

Either way, you can reduce your risk of infestations by plugging gaps around windows, doors, and pipe entrances with silicone sealant (or hire a handyman to do it for you). Also make sure that wood structures, like lattices, gates, and even wood piles, are pushed back away from your home. Any wood on or close to the ground is a sure way to invite termites in!

Once you check off these new home essentials, you can relax and start focusing on all the pleasures of owning a new home!