Just the other day I was speaking with a Realtor in Louisville, KY about how folks just don’t know much about houses (especially new first time home buyers) these days, and their ignorance could cost them lots of heartache and money over the coming years.
Now, I assume you got a home inspection before you bought your new house, and I hope you got a good one. However, if you happen stumble across this post before that time comes, check out 5 Things you don’t know about hiring a home inspector for a little help with picking a good one. Trust me when I tell you that we are not all the same.
My goal here is to tell you the things everyone should do when they buy a house and move in. It won’t be an all-inclusive list, as every home is different. But this is not a list just for newbies; this stuff applies to every person who lives in a wood structure and doesn’t want it to fall apart (that would be you). Some of these items will be things you need to address on Day 1, and others will be ongoing-forever-type stuff.
Day-1 These are the things you do, or ensure have been done, the moment you take possession of your new home. Some are for your safety, and some are for the longevity of your new home.
TAKE PICTURES BEFORE YOU MOVE IN
Take pictures of your new place before you move all your stuff in. It’s fun to look back years later and see how different everything looks. It’s an added bonus to be able to show off how much things have improved when it’s time to sell your home as well.
GET THE APP: NEXTDOOR
Nextdoor is a Facebook-like app that is only for folks who live in your ‘hood. It’s free to use, and allows you to create posts, ask questions, and even create a page for your pets. So when your dog gets loose, your neighbor 10 houses down, who you have only waved to in passing, will know where Fido belongs. I’ve used it twice to help reconnect dogs with owners and I think it’s a great idea. Folks don’t know their neighbors like they used to, and this seems to be a great way to connect with them in a modern way. Here is a link to the Nextdoor webpage.
GET A FIRE EXTINGUISHER
A fire extinguisher is something everyone needs, but very few folks have. I strongly recommend you get a small one like this and store it under your kitchen sink.
Obviously you don’t want to play firefighter if something crazy happens and your house goes up in flames, but this guy just may help you save your kitchen from a grease fire one day. First Alert Fire Extinguisher.
GET A FIRE ESCAPE LADDER
This will only apply to you if you live in a two-story home. It’s a no-brainer to give yourself a fast route to get out of a burning house. Ladders like these: FIRE ESCAPE LADDER are a good option, as they break down and fit in a closet until needed. There are multiple options available, so do some research and find the one that fits you best.
CONTROL THE WATER
The only thing that will destroy your home faster than fire is water. If you neglect to keep your gutters clean and free-flowing and you don’t keep good extensions on your downspouts, you are playing with fire. Well…..water. Most of the time, 5 feet is the magic number on how far out you need to extend your downspouts away from the house. That means those cheap splash-blocks that extend a couple of feet simply won’t cut it. The corrugated pipe you can get in the garden center of Lowe’s or Home Depot is a much better option. Be sure you use the adapter and screw them in place. And don’t use a super long screw. I like these: Gutter screws.
CHANGE THE LOCKS
Yes, it will usually cost a few bucks, but it’s not nearly as costly as getting all your stuff swiped. Change the locks, or have a locksmith re-key them. You have no idea how many keys to your new house are floating around out there. It doesn’t matter if your home is a new construction or not. I promise you there are extra keys out there. It’s much better to be safe than sorry.
And don’t buy cheap locks, as these most certainly fall under the “you get what you pay for” category. Check out this guy’s Youtube channel. It’s scary how quickly he can get through most locks. Here is a cool lock that you can add a PIN number to. Great for small kids that lose keys: NEW DOOR LOCKS
REPLACE THE TOILET SEAT
Some people take things to the next level and replace the whole toilet, and if you are dealing with old units that use a ton of water on each flush, that would be a good idea. I’m partial to Kohlers Highline. I’ve used them for years and they work great. If a whole new unit is not in the plans, a new seat will help make it feel like you’re not using a public restroom. Here is a soft close toilet seat.
REPLACE YOUR SMOKE DETECTORS
The city of Louisville makes sellers install new smoke detectors with 10-year non-removable lithium ion batteries at the close of a property. That is great and all, but what if you don’t buy a house in Louisville? I don’t know of such a rule in surrounding areas. Every smoke detector I’ve seen is labeled for replacement 10 years after the installation/manufacture date. Be sure to double check yours when you move in. Or better yet, just buy new ones.
REPLACE YOUR SUMP PUMP
I know, I know, who would replace their sump pump before it quits? Me, that’s who. I replace my pump every 5 years. Why? Because sump pumps are cheap, and the last thing I have time for is a panic attack when my sump pump quits during a storm, and the water starts rising. A good sump pump is about a $140.00. I like Zoeller pumps–made right in my backyard in Louisville, KY. This is the one I use: The M53 Mighty-Mate. Note* – I always rotate my pumps, and leave the old one on stand-by. Anything with an electric motor can fail, and it’s nice to know I have a backup in case things get crazy some stormy night. Fingers crossed it never happens. If you can swing it, these water powered backup systems are really great as well.
REPLACE YOUR AIR FILTER
This may seem simple, but lots of folks don’t do this like they should. I don’t stick to the hard and fast rule of 30 day swaps on my air filters, but I don’t wait 3 years between change outs either. The truth is your air filter is for your equipment’s protection; not your lung’s. The folks who make air filters have spent a lot of money on ad campaigns that have you buying some over priced filter you don’t need, and tossing it out every month even though it’s still perfectly fine.
How often you change your filter should depend on several factors such as:
- How clean is your house? Are you OCD clean, or do you live in a frat house?
- How well is your ductwork sealed? Most are very leaky. Check this out for info on getting your ductwork airsealed.
- How dirty are your ducts to begin with? This one has a lot to do with how clean you keep your house.
CLEAN YOUR DRYER VENT
According to the U.S. Consumer Product Safety Commission, there are an estimated 15,500 fires, 10 deaths and 10 injuries every year due to clothes dryer fires. Several hundred people a year are also subjected to carbon monoxide (CO) poisoning from improper dryer vents. The total damages come to nearly $100,000,000 yearly. That’s one hundred million dollars a year. Sometimes, it’s a faulty dryer that’s the problem. But more often than not, it’s the vent. Have you ever cleaned a dryer vent in your life?
Also, unless your vent hose is semi-rigid metal or smooth wall vent pipe, have it changed out. The foil connectors and those old plastic ones are a fire waiting to happen. Here is a brush to help you get out all the old lint.
CRACK OPEN THE BUBBLY!
It’s not every day you hit a life milestone. Buying your home is a big deal. You should take a moment and celebrate!