Owning a home can be a very fulfilling experience for the average person. You get to be the ruler of your roost, making whatever changes you like to your property and transforming it into the type of home you’ve always wanted to live in. A home can also be a great financial asset and many families cherish having a home they can pass down from one generation to the next.
The joy of homeownership, however, can face frequent interruptions from the obstacles that come with owning a piece of property. As the owner, you are responsible for the maintenance, upkeep, and financial commitment of the home. There isn’t a landlord you can call to fix the plumbing; you have to know how to fix any and all problems that crop up over the years. Being the owner also makes you a more significant member of your neighborhood and community, as you have an economic and personal stake in the area.
Luckily, there is plenty of advice for first time homeowners out there that can help you avoid common pitfalls. By following this helpful advice for first time homeowners, you can thrive in your new role and find true enjoyment in having a home of your own.
Create a Maintenance Schedule
When you invest in property, you make a commitment to take care of that property. By properly taking care of it, you may even be able to grow your investment. Neglecting the property will only devalue your investment while worsening the quality of life for everyone living there. This all makes it very important that you keep up with the maintenance of your home.
However, this is much easier said than done. There tends to be an extensive list of maintenance tasks for homeowners. From weed control to filter replacement, almost every part of your property is going to need routine maintenance of some sort. Carefully consider what parts of your home are going to need this kind of attention and then write down the maintenance tasks on a calendar. The areas of a home that usually need maintenance of some sort include the lawn, roof, flooring, decking, and appliances.
As you create your maintenance schedule, keep in mind that some of the things you write down will be tasks you can do yourself and others will be appointments you make with professionals. For instance, you may write down when you need to clean your oven yourself, but you would need to write down an appointment with an HVAC specialist to perform the annual maintenance of your heating and air conditioning system. Be sure that you’re familiar with all of the more complicated systems, such as the plumbing and HVAC systems, so that you know exactly what kind of work they need and can schedule maintenance appointments in advance.
Lower Energy Bills with Good Insulation
Many first time homeowners who are coming from renting an apartment or owning a condominium are taken aback by the increased energy costs. Owning a home typically involves having more space, which means heating or cooling a lot more square footage. These surprising energy bills tend to put a strain on first time homeowners’ monthly budgets.
A great piece of advice for first time homeowners is to anticipate these high heating and cooling costs. This can help you create a budget that will account for the costs from the very beginning and prevent you from suddenly finding yourself strapped for cash.
The other piece of helpful advice for first time homeowners on this topic is to keep energy bills low with good insulation. Whether you live in a climate with frigid temperatures or you’re always basking in the warm sun, the air in your home that you pay to keep cool or warm can easily escape without appropriate insulation.
Drafty windows and doors are invitations for heated or cooled air to leave and the outdoor air to enter. Be sure to seal off the edges of these openings as well as you can to prevent this from happening. Your home’s attic and roofing are also areas in which insulation is important. If your home needs improved insulation, be sure to invest in it early on in your homeownership so that you will be energy efficient for years to come. The environment and your wallet will both thank you.
Check Contractor References Before Hiring Them for Renovations
As a first time homeowner, you may have opted for a fixer-upper over a new build in order to save money. That’s a great choice! Many people take this piece of advice for first time homeowners and end up loving it because it means that they get to customize their home to their unique preferences. Renovations are the perfect chance to tear out the old features of a home and replace them with ones that express your more modern tastes.
These renovations, however, often come with a plethora of challenges. One of these challenges is working with the right contractor. You will often need to work with contractors because they’ll have the necessary expertise and tools like stainless hose clamps for projects that you don’t have. Left on your own without the right know-how or hose clamps, you could end up costing your project more time and money in the long run. With the home remodeling market estimated to be worth about $450 billion, there are many contractors out there who are ready to take advantage of first time homeowners making renovations. Without the right caution, you may pay a contractor for a job and not realize until they’re gone that they did an unsatisfactory job or didn’t finish the job at all.
To avoid getting burned by untrustworthy contractors, gather information about local contractors like a business would gather information on its industry. Companies perform what is known as competitive intelligence, which is the systematic collection and analysis of information on their competitors, audience, and market. While your version of competitive intelligence may not be as in-depth as that of a corporation, you still need a method for gathering and comparing information about all of the contractors in your area.
The best way to do this is to talk with your neighbors and friends to find someone who has done the type of work you need in your area before. If you need someone to make repairs to your concrete foundation, ask your neighbors if they’ve had foundation work done in the past. Chances are that they have or know a friend who has done this type of renovation. They can then give you a personal recommendation and let you know the experience they had working with the contractor. Once you have a few recommendations, you can compare their pricing and work quality.
Of course, you can find contractor reviews online as well. Sites like Angie’s List are a great resource for all types of home improvement projects and include real-life stories of working with certain contractors. They can quickly help you compare potential contractors, making your job of gathering information much easier. Even if the contractor you’re interested in isn’t on a website like Angie’s List, there will probably be reviews of the contractor on their business’s page on Google or Facebook.
Create Comfortable Spaces During Major Renovations
Once you’ve found the right contractor, your home is going to become a construction site. Workers will constantly be coming in and out of your home, there will be tools and supplies everywhere, and the areas under renovation will be filled with loud noises and annoying dust. Depending on the size of your home improvement project, however, you may be able to create a quiet sanctuary in your home for you and your family.
If you’re having the kitchen and living room renovated, move everything your family needs to live comfortably to the second floor. You can set up a bedroom with chairs and a television and have the kids bunk together in another bedroom. This will help your family maintain a sense of separation between relaxing bedtime and active family time in the “living room.” If you’re having work done on the second floor, make the living spaces on the first floor your sanctuary. You could transform an office and part of the living room into bedrooms for your family. Just remember to bring down the sheets, pillowcases, and blankets from the bedrooms so that everyone is as comfortable as they usually are in their own rooms.
When you create livable spaces during renovations, you’ll make the renovation process feel much more manageable. You’ll also be avoiding the cost of having to live in hotel rooms or rent a short-term apartment while the renovations are in progress. With a little bit of creativity, your family can happily live in your home during a remodel.
Minimize Your Home’s Liabilities
Even though the average homeowner may not be thinking about their home’s liabilities, they should. Your home’s liabilities tend to affect your homeowner’s insurance. Your insurer needs to make sure that your home is safe and up to code because if someone is injured on your property, the insurance company may be responsible for paying for it. As it doesn’t want to have to make these payments, it will ensure that your home has no liabilities in it.
Insurance companies will often make surprise visits to homes to ensure that every piece of your property is safe and up to code. If an insurance agent comes and sees that a part of your property presents a tripping hazard, you may have to make mandatory upgrades or else lose your homeowner’s insurance coverage.
To make sure that you don’t lose your homeowner’s insurance coverage, fix maintenance issues on your property sooner rather than later. You will also want to be familiar with the building codes in your town so that you know that all parts of your home are up to code.
Meet Your Neighbors
So far, much of our advice for first time homeowners has centered around the house itself. While any home-centric tips certainly count as important advice for first time homeowners, there is more to homeownership that lies outside of the property. For instance, introducing yourself to your neighbors is an essential step when you first move into a new home.
This piece of advice for first time homeowners is key because you’re going to see your neighbors every day. They are going to be your community and if you start your relationship with them on a warm and positive note, you can eventually rely on them for almost anything. If your family is going on vacation and you need someone to water the plants, you can ask a neighbor with whom you’ve become friends. If you want to get your family on the water this summer and are looking for a boat for sale, you can ask your neighbor who loves spending time on their fishing boat where to look for one for your family. Your neighbors are your connections to the larger community and can even become close friends over time.
Many new homeowners are nervous to introduce themselves to their neighbors. It’s easy to build up this meeting in your head as a nerve-wracking event, but it doesn’t have to be a big production. You don’t have to cook an entire roast to bring to their door and break bread with them. Instead, look for opportunities when you’re both outside to say hello and introduce yourself. If you’ve been in the house for a week and haven’t had this opportunity, simply knock on their door and introduce yourself. You can build a wonderful neighborly relationship on small, momentary exchanges like these.
Visit Businesses in the Neighborhood
Another piece of social advice for first time homeowners is to visit the neighborhood businesses early on. The establishments in your neighborhood are as much a part of the community as your neighbors are. A small coffee shop or grocery store that’s right down the road is an essential piece to the puzzle of your neighborhood. Your neighbors probably visit these businesses frequently as well, giving you another opportunity to introduce yourself to them.
By going to these businesses soon after moving into your new home, you can feel more comfortable in your community from the start. The business owners and employees will quickly get to know you and this familiarity is key in feeling welcome in a community. As you build these connections with the businesses in your neighborhood, you can use them as resources. If you’re also in the business world, you may be interested in working with broker dealers to boost your investments. It’s likely that the other business people in your neighborhood have connections in the community that can help you. All you have to do is build a friendly relationship with these businesses and you’ll have a whole new community open up to you.
You’ll also want to become familiar with the practical resources in your neighborhood. An essential piece of advice for first time homeowners is to know where the nearest facility for convenient medical care is. This facility could be an urgent care location, a hospital emergency room, or even a family doctor’s office. Whatever it may be, knowing where it is in relation to your home will help your family get treatment for an illness or injury quickly. If you’re experiencing discomfort in your pelvic region and are wondering what causes pelvic pain, you can easily make an appointment with a nearby doctor to ask them what could be wrong. If your child falls while riding their bike and cuts their arm open, you can quickly take them to urgent care to get stitches. Following this piece of advice for first time homeowners couldn’t be more important for the health of your family.
Being a homeowner isn’t easy. Even in the smallest of homes, there are a lot of things for you to remember to do. Try to take each of these pieces of advice for first time homeowners one at a time so that you don’t get overwhelmed. By methodically going down the list, you’ll be able to build a home that you and your family love living in.