January 9th, 2013

Must-Do Resolutions for the New Home Owner

Diane Benson Harrington

Once you buy or move into a home, it’s so easy to kick back and let things run on autopilot. Unfortunately, houses don’t take care of themselves. As the new year begins, vow to be as good to your house as you’d like it to be to you. (You don’t want your house to let you down by leaking during spring rains — and your house doesn’t want YOU to let it down by ignoring the curling roof shingles.)

While you may consider the following ideas as merely take-’em-or-leave-’em tips, take them more seriously by RESOLVING to follow through:

Before You Close The Deal

  • Get your home inspected by a credentialed home inspector, and get the property surveyed. If you have any doubts about the foundation, call in a contractor to check it out. Also consider getting termite, lead and radon inspections. Better to know of any hard-to-see ailments, problems-in-waiting, improperly placed fences or boundary disputes BEFORE you sign on the dotted line.
  • Learn where the water shut-offs are (both under sinks and toilets, as well as the house’s main valve). Do the same for the gas line. Find the fuse box (aka, electric panel) and use your spouse or a friend to help you mark which fuse goes to which rooms or outlets.
  • Install GFI (ground fault interrupter) outlets near any water source — usually kitchen and bathroom sinks — and anywhere else you want one. When a circuit is overloaded, electricity to that outlet is automatically shut off.
  • Take the time to imagine all your furnishings in the house. What will go where? Use a tape measure to be sure everything will fit. A house may look wonderful and have just the right price — but if your king-size bed and dressers won’t fit comfortably in the master bedroom, it may be the wrong house for you.

When The House Is Yours

  • Don’t rush to move in. Instead, take a day or a week to really clean out the garage and basement, clean any overhead lights, paint or touch-up where needed, get additional electrical/cable/phone outlets added where you want them, and do a clean sweep of cabinets and closets so everything is fresh and tidy before you put in your belongings.
  • Tackle any minor repairs NOW: fixing the bathroom grout, patching the hole in the wall, getting door bumpers for the doors that have been marring walls.
  • Change furnace and air-conditioner filters, and stock up on six or 12 filters so you’ll have no excuses for not changing them monthly.
  • Install smoke alarms and radon and carbon monoxide detectors. If you get them hard-wired, you won’t ever have to worry about changing batteries.
  • Seal your wood deck (and any wood patio furniture) before the elements start deteriorating it. (My husband keeps swearing he’ll take care of that “this year.” Three years later, my patio table and glider are slowly rotting away.)
  • Clean your gutters just before winter to prevent damage from ice build-up on your roof. Since even clean gutters can get ice build-up, have a plan in place to solve the problem. Get a roof snow shovel to pull snow down before it can get icy. Try temporary, removable heat strips that help prevent ice from forming.

Weekly Resolutions

  • Vacuum your carpets at least weekly to extend their life and keep them looking good.
  • If you have wood floors, always leave shoes at the door so you don’t track in dirt and other particles that will scratch the wood.
  • Buy quality cleaning tools — from dusters (I prefer wax-coated ones, like California Duster) to vacuums to mops to cleansers so you’ll never be doing a haphazard job.
  • If something breaks, repair it immediately. Little problems can turn into big problems if they’re not fixed.
  • Take just 15 minutes each evening before you go to bed. Waking up to a clean living room and clean sink is so much nicer than waking up to a tornado of newspapers, toys, mail and dirty dishes.

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