New Home Checklist: 7 things homeowners should do right away
You just bought a new home. You're excited, but also a little stressed thinking about all that needs to be done. Where do you begin? Here are 7 things you can do to help you get started.
1. Free up your schedule
Don’t rush the move-in process. It’s your chance to get organized. Plan enough time to move in and de-clutter your belongings. This will help prevent you from losing things in the move. This is something you’ll probably only do a few times in a lifetime. Allow yourself to take some vacation or personal days.
2. Deep cleaning
This is especially important if you're moving into a pre-existing home. Before unpacking, and ideally before the furniture arrives, do a deep cleaning, or hire a house cleaner to do a one-time deep clean.
3. Improvement or repairs
Whether you do it yourself or hire a pro, it’s infinitely easier to do work on a house when no one is living there. If you are wanting to add electrical outlets or re-wire for a security system or sound system this would be the best time to do it. This is especially true for those projects best done without furniture in the way, such as interior painting.
4. Change the locks
There’s no way of knowing how many copies of your house key are floating around – or who has them. New door hardware will only run you about $50, and it’s well worth the peace of mind. Don’t forget to get a few extra copies for emergencies.
5. Change your address and set up utilities
Contact your post office about your change of address, so they can forward mail to your new home. However, that service only lasts for a few months, so you should also start changing your address on all of your important accounts, such as your workplace benefits, bank accounts, credit cards, car and health insurance, magazine subscriptions, and memberships.
6. Locate your shut-off valves
You will need to know this — burst water pipes, for instance — are shut-off valves. Turning off the water (or gas, or electricity) could save you a lot of money and future repair bills if you can quickly shut-off the problem at the source and call in a professional to fix the problem.
If the toilet is overflowing, look for the valve coming out of the floor or the wall behind the toilet and turn that to the right to stop the water flow. If your sink or faucet is leaking uncontrollably, the shut-offs will usually be under the sink (one for cold and one for hot).
There should be a gas shut-off valve near your stove or dryer if either one uses natural gas. Find and familiarize yourself with all of these local shut-offs.
Find your main shut-offs, which control the gas and water coming into your house from the street. They’re usually found in the basement, toward the front of your house, but not always. Learn where these are ahead of time so you’re not clumsily searching for them in a panic as a geyser of a busted pipe is gushing water all over your kitchen.
Your circuit breaker acts as a shut-off for your home’s electricity. Individual circuits will control the electric flow to certain rooms or appliances — one breaker switch might shut off all the overhead lights, while another might control the refrigerator and the microwave outlets. Get familiar with the circuit breaker, and note where the main shut-off switch is to turn off all power in an emergency.
7. Housewarming party
This will give you a defined deadline to get the place in order, and puts just the right amount of motivational pressure on you to keep at it and to completely get unpacked and put together all your furniture.
It’ll force you to confront those stray boxes and make tough decisions about what to do with them. It’ll push you to get the walls painted. It will allow you to share your excitement and hard work with the people you care about – not to mention, you might get a nice gift or two.