There is so much to think about when buying your first home. It’s not just cute new sofas and dining room tables: it’s utilities, mortgages, insurance… All kinds of fun stuff! Here are a few things you should make sure not to overlook:
Set up your utilities.
First things first! Set up water, heat, electric, phone, gas, internet, TV and whatever other necessities you need. Dealing with utility companies can sometimes come with installation fees, long hours on the phone and all-day time blocks in which you need to be home, so it’s best to set plenty of time aside to get everything taken care of upfront. Check with O’Neal Villages preferred vendors to make it easy!
Locate your main water shut-off valve and find your circuit breaker box.
Did you know that non-weather-related water damage is the second most common homeowner’s insurance claim? That’s why it’s important to know how to cut off the water quickly if an emergency happens so havoc isn’t wreaked on your home. Water shut-off valves are located on the outside of your home since it’s where the water main enters your house. They’re usually near the street. To close it, you may need to have a tool like a crescent wrench or curb stop key.
While you’re poking around, also locate your circuit breaker box. Figure out which switches control the electricity in various parts of your home and label them accordingly so you won’t forget.
Any time you break ground, you need to call 811, the national dig-safety hotline. They’ll come out to make sure you won’t hit any utilities when you dig. That way you won’t have to worry about unwanted surprises and costly repairs.
Keep an eye on gutters and check attic insulation.
Be sure your gutters are clean and draining properly, especially before and after big storms. You also need to conduct an attic inspection. If you can see that the tops of your floor joists are visible, you’re insufficiently insulated. You should have about 10 to 14 inches of materials depending on the type of insulation. Bonus: a well-insulated house can save you up to 30 percent on your energy bills!
Proceed cautiously before drilling into walls.
If you’re a fan of the extreme open concept, use a stud sensor before you fire up the drill. Be careful, though: they’re not always accurate, so proceed with caution and drill just a tiny bit at a time to avoid hitting wiring and pipes.
Don’t overspend on personalization.
Between the down payment, extra insurance, utility installation costs and all those pesky moving expenses that pop up, money’s probably going to be tight at first. Although you’re anxious to make the house your own and show off your style to friends and family, give yourself some time to rebuild your savings and adjust to your new expenses.
Hire qualified contractors.
It may be tempting to hire the cheapest bid or try to make repairs yourself even though you’re not qualified. You can paint yourself, but when it comes to electrical work and other dangerous tasks, pony up and ask friends and neighbors for recommendations.
It’s tempting to do your taxes yourself online, especially after you just shelled out so much money for your first home. This year, though, it’s more important than ever to hire an actual accountant. Investopedia advises, “Homeownership significantly changes most people’s tax situations and the deductions they are eligible to claim. Just getting your taxes done professionally for one year can give you a template to use in future years if you want to continue doing your taxes yourself.”
Keep your receipts!
And not just for returns! Investopedia makes a good point: “When you sell your home, you can use these costs to increase your home’s basis, which can help you to maximize your tax-free earnings on the sale of your home.” Cha-ching!
Get properly insured.
You’re required to purchase homeowners insurance through your mortgage lender and to purchase enough to fully replace your property in the event of a total loss, but you should also think big-picture on how owning a home affects your life and others. For instance, if you’re the breadwinner in your home, you need to make sure that you have life insurance with your spouse named as your beneficiary so your family won’t lose the house if you die unexpectedly.