Buying a home is an exciting transaction in someone’s life, but none so exciting as being a first-time home buyer. It doesn’t matter if it’s a mansion on the hillside or a fixer upper in a small town, buying a home for the first time is an adventure.
There are some big changes headed your way if you’ve been a renter up until this point. There are a lot of maintenance jobs, new costs, and, all in all, a lot more work. So, I’ve decided to give you some of the tips that I had to figure out along the way. You will have “hindsight’s 20/20” moments your entire life, but these are just a few of my hindsight realizations that may spare you some grief in the future.
- Maintenance your heating and cooling system, regularly. You don’t have to call in a service tech for every appliance you have, but I would recommend having an air conditioning and heating company come by every other year to clean your ducts, and to check the condition of your unit. It never seems to fail that your unit will break down in the heat of the summer or the coldest night of the year, and that’s when prices and waiting times seem outrageous.
- Don’t pay someone to fix something until you’ve done your research. You wouldn’t believe how many people I’ve seen throw away $200 on a plumber for a $2 stopper replacement or a $.50 chain link. Toilets are easy. Learn how they work, and you shouldn’t ever have to call a plumber for a broken toilet. A stopped-up toilet is different, but a broken toilet is fixable. Don’t throw away your vacuum, either. It’s clogged. Detach the hose and clean it out. I see so many vacuums on the curb, and I can’t help but wonder if they are really broken or just need to be cleaned out. Don’t spend money on repairmen until you’re sure you can’t do it yourself. There are countless repair guides and videos online. I have no doubt that you are often a few clicks away from finding out your problem and finding a way to fix it. Not always, but often enough to try.
- Insurance isn’t just to cover the bank’s best interest. It’s supposed to cover you too. Don’t pay for a home-owners policy unless it covers your best interest. Will your policy allow you to rebuild your home? Is your liability going to cover you in the event of an injury or accident on your property? Be sure to have your valuables included on the policy as well. It’s a lot cheaper to add your grandmother’s antique diamond wedding ring to your home-owners policy than to have it insured on its own. If you’re forced to pay for home-owners insurance anyway, it may as well cover more than the bank’s backside.
- If your home is carpeted, get it cleaned once in the summer, every year. It’s not too big of an investment, and it’s a lot cheaper than buying new carpet in a few years. Now, this is assuming you have a lot of traffic on the carpet. If you don’t have kids, pets, or parties, you can get by with every other year. I suggest the summertime months, but only because you really want to get the carpets cleaned when its easy for them to dry out. Carpet powders tend to cause dirt build up which makes your carpet look dingy and even malodorous; so avoid using them often.
- Finally, I have learned that if you want to have a nice yard, you have to figure out what kinds of soil you have. Not all plants can survive in the same soil types. We’ve all heard that some plants require full sun, partial sun, and that they prefer different amounts of water, but the acidity and PH levels of our soil can make or break your dreams of having the best roses on the block. Before you decide to plant your tropical oasis or vegetable garden, be sure and do a simple soil test. You can find it almost anywhere they have a garden section. Do a little research on the value of different trees in your state, because planting certain varieties can actually improve the value of your home by hundreds to thousands of dollars per tree (depending on the species and the width of it’s trunk) Adding value to your home and getting the chance to work in the yard is really a win win.
I know that there are going to be dozens of things that you learn as a homeowner. I just hope that you use some of the tips I’ve learned along the way to help you avoid some of the trip ups I’ve experience. I still feel sorry for the poor trees that I’ve murdered, and the $100 a pop, after hours service calls.