Are you in the market for a new house? Whether you are looking for a first home or you are changing homes, make sure you take a moment to assess what needs to be changed in your new residence. Use this list as a reference for things you should do when you buy a new house.
Walk Through the House
You’ve just bought a new house – did the previous owner leave things behind? Did anything break during the move? Walk through the property and see what needs to be fixed, replaced or can be removed. This is also a good time to see if anything was left from the move. Be sure to check any outdoor areas as well, as garden pots, hoses, outdoor furniture and even trampolines can get left behind.
Change All the Locks This should be a top priority. You might have received a few keys at closing, but who knows how many duplicate keys to your new home are out there. Change all locks on doors that have outside access. This is also a great time to reprogram any garage door openers/remotes/keypads as these things are often overlooked by new owners.
Change Your Address
It’s highly likely you’ll receive mail for the previous owner. Be sure to update your address with the Post Office, your employer, credit card companies, investment companies, all utility companies, and any other company or service you receive mail from. If you do receive mail for the previous owner, write “No Longer at This Address” on the envelope and place it back in the mailbox.
Change Batteries in Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
These things save lives, and there’s no guarantee that the previous owner practiced good upkeep on these vital parts of your home. Replace all the batteries in the detectors, and make sure to run a test on each detector to make sure it’s in working order. If the house is older, you might want to consider replacing the detectors for more current and up-to-date models. This is also a good time to locate any fire extinguishers in the house, or make a plan on where to place fire extinguishers. Check that the extinguishers are still charged and in working order.
Learn and Label Fuse/Panel Box
You’ve purchased a home – it’s important you understand how it runs! The electrical panel handles all the electricity in your house, and it’s important to know where it’s located in the home and which outlet each circuit goes to. Sometimes the previous owner has already done this for you, but if not, you can do it manually by turning off one breaker at a time and checking which room or rooms have gone dark. It’s also important to locate the main disconnect, which handles all the power to the house and is used in emergency situations.
Put Flashlights in Every Room
No one anticipates the power going out, but it’s best to be ready if it happens. You can buy flashlights are your local hardware or big box store. LED flashlights will last for a long time, and they provide a large amount of light compared to their size. Be sure you have spare batteries, and make sure you have a flashlight in the high traffic areas of your home: kitchen, bedrooms, main bathroom and garage. Flashlights are not only useful when the power is out, but they also come in handy for basic improvement projects and when you need extra light.
Learn Where the Main Water and Gas Shutoffs Are
You have a water leak or a gas leak – do you know how to turn off the water or the gas into the house? Locating the main water and gas shut offs before an emergency will save you time and could possibly save your life. It’s just general good homeowner practice to know where these important fixtures are. The main water shutoff should be located near the water meter, which is either located outside in a warmer climate area and inside in a cooler climate area. If you have natural gas in your home, the main shutoff valve will be located just before the gas meter.
Find The Sewer/Water Lines and Septic Tank
As a homeowner, you’ll likely (at some point) want to do updates to your home. These updates can also include construction in the yard. It’s important to know where your home’s sewer and water lines/pipes are in the yard so you avoid hitting them during any demolition – most of the time, if you hit one on your property, you’re responsible for fixing it, not the utility company. If your new home is on a septic system, it’s incredibly important to know where the septic tank is located and where any septic lines are in the yard.
Clean All Major Appliances
Unless you’re purchasing brand new appliances for your home, it’s a smart decision to clean all of the major appliances in your new home. These include: oven, refrigerator/freezer, washing machine, dishwasher, and any other large appliances. A fresh clean not only gets rid of any germs and bacteria, but it also makes your new home fresh and ready for you and your family. Another important thing to replace: toilet seats. We’ve all used public restrooms before, but your home is not a public restroom. Get new toilet seats from your local hardware store. But if you’re okay with the ones you inherited, make sure you give them a good deep clean!