New homeowner? Here's 14 things you need to do


New homeowner

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So you just bought a new home. Congratulations! Break out the bubbly and celebrate.

But, once the champagne flutes are put away, it’s time to get down to business. We know that between daily chores and preventive maintenance, it’s easy to forget a few things when you’re getting in the groove of new homeownership. Let’s refresh your memory!

You found our original list so helpful that we’ve doubled it. The best time to tackle these must-do items is before the ink dries on your mortgage, but they’re worth doing even if you’re a veteran homeowner.

Allen Shulman, custom home builder of 25 years, said, “The biggest mistake homeowner’s make is succumbing to what I like to call the ‘eyes wide shut’ syndrome. They see the problem, they understand that it’s only going to get worse, and then they do nothing in the hope that it will simply go away."

To prevent a costly problem, don't ignore warning signs! 

Shulman adds, "A customer of mine once noticed that there was water in the cabinet under the kitchen sink and just assumed that they had spilled something and it was still wet. They did nothing. A few weeks later, they notice that the wood floor near their kitchen sink was starting to buckle. Long story short, the slow leak from their kitchen faucet caused significant damage to their wood floor costing them thousands of dollars."

If Shulman's customer would have addressed the issue when they first discovered it, they would have nipped the issue in the bud and saved themselves time and money.

Here are 14 tasks that will help you stay on top of homeownership (and prevent a money-sucking disaster): 


1. Save for unexpected problems

You can’t stop things like your dishwasher from breaking, but you can set some cash aside to pay for unexpected replacements. As a general rule of thumb, you want to save 1% to 3% of your home’s initial price each year so that you can afford unexpected problems.


2. Form an inspection habit

Detecting certain issues early (like a rodent infestation or mold growth) can be the difference between a simple fix and an unaffordable disaster. Take the time to properly inspect your furnacebasementatticinsulation and roof at least once during that first year. Then, make an annual habit of it. Tip: If you would rather have an annual inspection conducted by a professional home inspector, visit Angie's List to find the best local service provider to fit your needs. 


3. Buy a bunch of furnace filters

Changing your furnace filter regularly is one of the easiest ways you can save money (since your furnace will last longer) and improve your health (since the air you breathe will be cleaner). But remembering to pick up a filter from the hardware store every few months isn’t always so easy. Nip that problem in the bud by purchasing in bulk. Take a look at your furnace and write down the filter size, then order enough to last for a few years (the exact number you need will vary depending on the type of furnace you have). 


4. Get to know your appliances

Just like cars and televisions, the appliances in your home have different life expectancies. For example, furnaces usually last for 15 to 20 years, but water heaters tend to start wearing down after 10 years. It’s worth figuring out how old each appliance in your house is because then you can plan ahead for their replacements. A new furnace can cost as much as $5,000, so a little heads up can really help.


5. Take advantage of tax credits

Did you know that you can receive credits for things like installing solar panels or purchasing Energy Star appliances? Do some research early on about the different tax credits that may apply to you, and then reap the benefits when tax time rolls around. 


6. Start keeping records

Every improvement or repair you make to your home — from adding caulk around your bathtub to installing a new roof — will increase its resale value. Make sure all of your hard work pays off by keeping track right from the start! 


7. Beef up your insurance

Take a good look at your homeowners insurance policy and look for any relevant gaps (this is a situation where professional advice can be really helpful). Two areas of coverage to consider are flood and fire protection, which aren’t always included in standard policies. Tip: It’s also worth taking another look at your car insurance, because you now have a much bigger asset (your home) to lose in the event of a lawsuit.