So you just became a new homeowner?
Congratulations! This calls for a glass of champagne. Seriously, purchasing your first home is a great accomplishment and something that you should be very proud of (just think of all those hours you worked to make it happen).
But now what?
Well, now the joys of home ownership begin. Let’s start with the necessities.
Table of Contents
- Check Your Belongings
- Address Habitability Issues
- Make a List of Things to Do In Your New House
- Take Time to Enjoy the Moment
- Introducing Your Pets to a New House
- Meet the Neighbors
- Change Your Mailing Address
- Set Up a Home Security System
- Time to Furnish Your New Home
- Create a Maintenance List
Check Your Belongings
Accidents happen in moves. Whether you moved yourself or used a moving company, check your stuff once you arrive at your new house. If you used movers, it’s better to document any problems sooner than later.
Depending how organized you are, you may have made an inventory list of your belongings before you moved. Compare what arrived with your list to ensure that nothing got lost in the move.
Unpack the Essentials
Despite what some may say, now is not the time to unpack your Friends DVD box set. Instead, on moving day, focus on unpacking the essentials such as toiletries, linens, and silverware.
Don’t forget some kitchen essentials that can help you make your first few meals.
Easy cooking appliances such as a portable induction cooker or crock-pot can be life savers.
Address Habitability Issues
Your home inspection report was one step in a long list of steps it took to buy your new house. Now that you own it, and you made it through the nightmare that is the mortgage process, it’s time to dust off that home inspection report.
Prioritize. Prioritize. Prioritize. Say that three times fast. For most of us, we can’t afford to right away perform every task and buy every product that we need for our new home. Instead, need to prioritize what needs to get done and be strategic in our spending.
Start With The Heart of Your House: The HVAC System
HVAC stands for heating, ventilation, and air conditioning; you need these things to live comfortably and shouldn’t skimp when it comes to routine maintenance.
If your inspection report noted issues that need to be addressed, address them immediately while they are at the forefront of your mind. Spending some money now on your HVAC system will save you a ton down the line by avoiding major system failures.
- Perform a visual inspection of your HVAC unit. Make it a habit of visually checking your unit for water leaks, frozen coils, accumulated dirt, and anything else out of the ordinary.
- Change your filters. One of the cheapest home maintenance items is also one of the most important. Change your air filter every three months (depending on what type of filter you buy). A dirty filter makes your unit work harder, leading to expensive problems. Also, do you really want to breathe in all the dirt moving through your vents?
- Open your registers. Closing more than 20% of your registers will result in excessive strain on your system.
- Prevent clogs. Pour a mixture of bleach and water down the air conditioner condensate drain to prevent the build up of pesky clogs.
Kick Out Pests
Now might be a good time to hire an exterminator; especially if your house sat unoccupied for a period of time before you moved in.
Our house had been vacant for approximately six months before we bought it and when we first moved in we found spiders (luckily mostly dead) scattered throughout the house. Luckily, once it again became “lived in” the pests disappeared. However, it doesn’t hurt to be proactive and pay for at least one treatment.
An initial visit from your local exterminator will run you somewhere in the area of $100-300 depending on your area. If you plan on scheduling quarterly treatments, prepare to spend somewhere around $75 a pop.
Fortunately, most homes don’t require an exterminator. Some exterminators now even offer a once a year inspection free of charge so that you can only pay for what you need.
DIY pest prevention methods also can be an effective way to keep your house pest free.
Find The Main Water Valve and Circuit Breaker Box
Your water valve and circuit breaker box are two of your home’s most important items. Especially in an emergency, you need to know where to find them.
How to Locate the Main Water Valve
The location of your main water valve varies depending on your home’s foundation.
Crawl Space Without a Basement: The main water valve will typically be found near the water heater, possibly under the kitchen sink.
Crawl Space With Basement: Typically with a crawl space and basement you will find the main water valve where the water piping enters your house. It also may be in the crawl space, or as is the case in our house, the main valve will be near the water heater where the water enters the basement, and the outdoor valve will be in the crawl space.
Slab On Grade Construction: Look first near the water heater. If not, check under the kitchen sink.
How to Close the Main Water Valve
Closing and opening your main water valve depends on the type your home has.
A round “wheel” valve, like what you would find on a spigot, will turn off by turning clockwise, and will open by turning counter-clockwise.
A level handle is slightly different. To turn off the water supply, turn the handle perpendicular to the pipe. To turn it on, turn it parallel to the pipe. It’s easy as that.
It’s also important to know whether you have city or well water. If you have city water, you can simply turn your valves. If you have well water, you’ll have a pressure tank located near where the water enters the house. You’re going to need to kill the power to the pressure tank by flicking the switch in the circuit breaker.
Where to Find The Circuit Breaker Box
It’s best to know where your circuit breaker box is before you have to go stumbling around in the dark after a power outage.
Your garage, if you have one, is the most likely area for the box. If not there, check your basement, a storage room, or the hallways.
You’re looking for a gray metal box that is usually embedded into the wall. In rare instances, it could be located outside the house or in a cabinet.
Change The Locks
The previous owners may have seemed nice at closing, but it’s your house now. Don’t take any chances by installing a new set of locks on all of your new home’s doors.
Locksmiths (yes, they still exist) aren’t very expensive and you can get a new lock installed for you for under $40.
You may even want to take this opportunity to buy a new electronic lock with a keypad. That way you can say ba-bye to ever being locked out again.
Clean, Clean, Clean
If you’re anything like me, you’re a little worried about germs. It’s likely that the previous owners were not complete slobs (you wouldn’t have bought the place, right?), but it’s best to get a fresh start before you move in your furniture and it becomes too much of a headache to do a thorough clean.
A good starting place is the carpets. Hire a company to come out and do the entire house for a couple hundred bucks or rent a carpet steam cleaner for between $30 and $50 a day.
I’m sure it goes without saying but clean the bathrooms. Thoroughly.
It’s also a great idea to clean out the kitchen cabinets. We all know that cleaning is hard to come by once all of the dishes and pots and pans are stored – so do it now while it’s easy.
Make Sure Your Utilities Are Up And Running
Most likely you already transferred the utilities into your name prior to closing. However, if there was an issue, or you simply didn’t have the opportunity, make sure to setup your electric, gas, and water service as soon as possible.
If you aren’t sure what company services your property, pop on to Google. Your local utility company should then have a service locator on their website.
Don’t forget about setting up cable, internet, and phone either! If your local cable company is anything like ours (looking at you Comcast!) it will take a few days for a technician to come out and get you up and running, so plan ahead.
Make a List of Things to Do In Your New House
Now that your house is livable, it’s time to look around and make a list of what else needs to get done. It’s easy to get overwhelmed when considering what has to be done to a new empty house.
Start big. Start with the “must haves.”
Things like a bed, couch, and groceries should fill in the top of your list.
You don’t have to plot out everything at this point; just enough to get you started.
Take Time to Enjoy the Moment
Buying a home is a big deal. You’ve worked hard to make it happen. Make sure to give yourself time alone to enjoy it.
It’s easy to get lost in the commotion of moving day. Take the opportunity to take a picture, pop a bottle of champagne, and commemorate your achievement.
Introducing Your Pets to a New House
New environments can be scary to cats and dogs. Take special care to introduce them slowly to their new surroundings.
Experts suggest first sequestering your cat or dog in one room. Leave them with their usual crate, toys, and bowls and give them an opportunity to become acquainted with the new sights and smells. Temporary seclusion is also beneficial as it separates your pet from the commotion of the move.
Once everything is settled, escort your pet through the house, giving them an opportunity to acclimate.
Aids, such as calming treats can help make the transition easier.
Quick Tips for Moving With Pets
- Accustom to a crate or pet carrier
- If your pet isn’t used to being crated, practice before the move. You don’t want to add any additional stress to moving day.
- Condition for moving
- Change is scary for a pet. Start early by leaving boxes and moving materials around the house so that the big move won’t come as a shock.
- Find a new vet
- It’s better to be prepared than to scramble later when your pet needs to see the vet. Search online, ask friends or co-workers in the area, or call your local rescue group for a vet recommendation near your new home.
- Double check your pets’ identification
- Make sure that your animals have tags with the proper information and are microchipped. Moves are always hectic and accidents do happen.
- Get anti-stress gear
- Moves are stressful for everyone, including your pets. Make things easier with anti-stress gear such as the Thundershirt.
- Consider a pet sitter
- There will be a lot happening on moving day. You likely won’t have the ability to give your pets’ the attention they need. Use a pet sitter while you get situated so that you can focus on acclimating your pets when things are ready.
- Pet-proof your new home
- Check for anything dangerous, such as rat poison, left behind by the last owner. Also, if you have a dog and a fenced in yard, walk the fence to check for holes and escape routes.
Meet the Neighbors
This one is optional (some of us wouldn’t mind our relationship with the neighbors to be just polite waves from a distance!).
The presumption is that your neighbors should come over and welcome you to the neighborhood. If not, it’s your decision whether you’d like to take the initiative. A good neighbor can be invaluable. Don’t be afraid to knock on their door and say hello. If you’re not the most social person, keep it brief; say hello, exchange names, and get out of there.
Change Your Mailing Address
This one might be our least favorite. With a new house comes months of receiving forwarded pieces of mail that you forgot to update the address for.
Start with the big one – a change of address with the United States Postal Service. This should knock out a large chunk of your mail.
Then move on to the mail that you absolutely cannot miss such as dreaded bills.
Don’t forget about internet and phone bills, especially if you are transferring service addresses.
Set Up a Home Security System
There are now more home security options than ever. If your new home is already equipped with a built-in home security system you can simply activate the system for a monthly fee that typically ranges between $40-100.
For as little as $180 you can have a home system that includes WiFi video cameras, sensors, and home automation. The best part, you don’t have to be a tech wiz to install it, and you won’t be tied down to a long term service contract.
Time to Furnish Your New Home
Buying furniture for a new home can be exciting. It can also take a serious toll on your wallet.
First things first: take inventory of what you have.
Remember that you don’t have to furnish your entire home at once. If you can, work with what you have and buy pieces as you go along.
Start With the Essentials
Creating a furniture checklist for your new home will make it much easier to prioritize what you need to buy and when to buy it.
Here are our list of furniture essentials:
- Check out our list of the best cheap living room sets
- TV stand
- Coffee table
- Bed frame
- Mattress topper
- Night stand
Create a Maintenance List
Ah, the joys of homeownership. There’s always something to be done.
Get ahead of the game by creating a yearly checklist for maintenance that needs to be done. Of course, if any tasks go beyond your know-how, hire a professional. A little money spent upfront in maintenance will save a lot in the long run.
An easy tip is to keep a separate list of what repairs and maintenance tasks you’ve completed. It’ll come in handy later.