So you've bought your first home. Congratulations on that huge step! It's exciting to imagine getting settled in and making it yours. However, there are some important things that first-time homeowners should do right away. This checklist will make sure you don't miss anything important after closing on your new place.
Change the locks
Once you have purchased your new home, it’s important to change the locks. Whether the home is brand new or pre-owned, you never know who may have a key. You can do this yourself or hire a locksmith to do it for you. If you would like to install or rekey the locks yourself, there are many videos on YouTube where homeowners demonstrate how they installed or re-keyed their new door locks.
At Prestige Custom Builders, we use Kwikset lock, and we can change the keyway with a special tool in just a few minutes. There are also many professionals who will help with the installation process at a reasonable cost, if you prefer that route.
Get a comprehensive Homeowner's Insurance Policy
Homeowner's insurance is a necessity for every homeowner. This type of insurance covers your home and personal belongings in the event that something happens to them. You'll want to make sure you have coverage for both fire and windstorm damage, as well as theft or vandalism.
“This is something that is near and dear to my heart because my wife Allison Wright owns an insurance agency.” - Landon Wright (Business owner). When discussing homeowner’s Insurance, you need to sit down, talk with your agent, and go over ALL of the details. You should have a personal relationship with your insurance agent and fully understand what coverages you have, don't have, or what you elect not to have.
If you are purchasing a new house, it's important to know how much homeowner's insurance will cost before signing on the dotted line. Insurance premiums can vary greatly depending on factors like location, age of your home, and whether or not you have pets.
So many times when buying a home, you're pushed to someone that you don't know or don’t have a relationship with because it may be cheap or the agent is a friend of the lender/realtor. Friends are great but their friends may not have your best interest at heart. You should go with someone you know and trust and someone who will be there for you when you need them. An $50 extra per month could be worth more than you know.
Have an energy audit done on your home
An energy audit can provide you with some insight into things like your home’s air tightness or the thermal envelope and how those things affect your heating and cooling costs. We recommend having this done at least once a year as a precaution.
If you’re having issues with your heating and cooling systems and issues with your HVAC unit have been dismissed, this may be a great place to start looking for a solution. Take the time early in your homeownership journey to have an energy audit done on your home. It can provide you with insight into how much money you’re estimated to spend on heating or cooling your home. These costs could also affect your plans for any additions to the home, like a second bathroom or living area.
Learn where the water valve and shut off valves are located
After you’ve purchased your home and moved in, it’s important to learn where the water valves are located inside and outside your home. The water valve controls the flow of water inside your house, while a shut off valve controls the flow of water to your house.
The most common location for these valves are in the front of your home or garage area. Make sure you know where these valves are located especially as you add landscaping or things start to grow around your home. Being aware of these locations can be key to preventing damage to your home further down the road.
Check your smoke detectors regularly
Smoke detectors should be installed on every level of the house. Additionally, smoke detectors should be installed outside of each sleeping area and in every bedroom. This way you will always hear them when it matters most: when everyone is asleep!
Smoke detectors are easy to find but making sure they work should be a routine. It is a best practice to check your batteries every quarter, bi-annually, or annually at the very least. Checking the batteries in your smoke detectors is a quick check but something that gets overlooked.
Have a plan in case of fire in your home
It's easy to forget about the basics like fire safety when you're in the excitement of buying a new home, but having a plan in place can help prevent any unwelcome surprises and even save lives.
By code, every bedroom must have egress windows or a door that allows for escape in case of fire. Keep windows and doorways free of obstruction and know how to operate the windows in case of emergency.
We believe it’s extremely important to have fire extinguishers in all bedrooms or bedroom closets, kitchen and utility rooms. Know where your fire extinguishers are located. If they're not easily visible, make sure that everyone in the house knows where they are and how to use them.
Have an escape route planned out in case of emergency. Also make sure you designate a meet up location in case someone needs to escape from a different exit.
Be prepared for pets! In addition to knowing where their food and water is kept, have a plan for keeping them safe during an evacuation (such as putting them into crates).
Consider Flood Insurance
In the Southeast Texas area we know about floods. With most of our area affected in some way by floods over the last 5+ years flood insurance is a must. Again, you want to make sure you know your coverage, and make sure you go with a company that has the financial backing to provide the coverage needed if there is another flood like the one caused by Hurricane Harvey or Tropical Storm Imelda. If you’re looking to get flood insurance, contact Allison Wright for more information.
Remember, price isn't everything when it comes to protecting your home, loved ones, and possessions so take the time to sit down with your agent. Spend the time to understand the types of coverages you have and how the insurance policy will pay out if you ever need to file a claim.
Checklist Items to Review
We highly suggest taking the time to go through each one of the items listed below to help make the first year in your new home a great one.
- Change the locks
- Get Homeowners Insurance
- Get an energy audit
- Be aware of water valve locations
- Check smoke detectors
- Have a plan in case of fire
- Consider flood insurance
Settling into a new home can be exciting. It’s easy to get caught up in the things that seem more fun. If you take the time to go through the list above, we are sure that you will enjoy your first year and the years to come.