Congratulations on your new house! Having a first house is a tremendously exciting experience, but it can also be an overwhelming one. Don't worry. You just need to take it step by step. Here are a few things that you should know about owning and maintaining your new house.
Check Your Major Appliances and Home Systems
The time to check up on everything inside the house is now. While you may have paid for a home inspection during the purchase process, it's likely that they just did a cursory look around the property. They would be more concerned about making sure your roof and foundation is safe, rather than the minutiae of your household appliances.
Don't bother with a home warranty unless one was offered with your property by the seller. A home warranty is usually worthless: you still end up paying money and you have to wait for the home warranty service every time something goes wrong.
A few things to check first:
- Get your water heater serviced if it hasn't been serviced within the last year. Old water heaters can actually be dangerous if they aren't serviced regularly.
- Make sure your HVAC system is working as it should. Test out both the A/C unit and the furnace.
- Make sure the stove and oven are working, especially if it's a gas stove. If a gas stove isn't working properly, there could be a gas leak.
- Test the smoke detector. Make sure you have enough smoke detectors around the property and that they all work.
Label the Breakers in Your Electrical Box
Before you experience any electrical issues (or start bringing appliances and electronics in), test the breakers in your electrical box and determine which breaker goes to which. Sometimes they'll already be labeled, but if they aren't, you'll want to figure it out now—before you start plugging important things in.
Find Your Emergency Water Shut Off
In addition to your breakers, you may want to find your emergency water shut off. An emergency water shut off is important to know, because if you have any plumbing issues, you'll need to turn the water off before flooding damages your home.
Save for a Repair/Emergency Fund
Make sure you have enough money on the side for any repairs and emergencies that come up. With any home, issues can happen; you're now responsible for anything that happens with the home. While you're likely going to be buying new furniture and other important items, nothing is more important than having additional cash on the side in the event that something comes up.
Make Sure Your Home is Energy-Efficient
Before you start paying the utility bills on this property, you may want to make sure that it's as energy-efficient as possible. Take a look at the insulation, weather stripping, and thermostat, to make sure that everything as efficient as it can be. You may want to add insulation to the attic, replace existing weather stripping, or install a smart thermostat system.
Check Your Insurance Coverage
It's likely that you already have homeowner's insurance with your mortgage, but you may not have insurance that covers all of your own personal property. A mortgage company ensures that the property itself is covered. Make sure that your most expensive, prized possessions are covered under your existing insurance policy, and that your policy is adequate to replace your home.
You may also want to consider getting either a life insurance policy or a disability insurance policy, to make sure your home is taken care of in the event that something occurs. A disability policy can help you keep your home in the event that you cannot work.
Check Your Tax Situation
There are a few ways homeowners can get credits or reimbursements during tax time. Mortgage interest reduces your taxable income, while you can also get credits for installing energy-efficient appliances. Make sure you know what your tax situation is now, so you can take advantage of these credits and deductions during tax time. It may be worth it to meet with a CPA.
There are a lot of new things to think about when you become a homeowner. Both the interior and exterior of your home need to be thoroughly inspected, and you have to plan ahead for any future issues. Check out more tips for new homeowners, and congratulations on taking this exciting new step!