You’ve just bought a home. Now what?
Practical tips for new homeowners to help you save stress and money
By ATB Financial 24 March 2023 4 min read
Congratulations! The search is finally over, and you’ve just bought your very own home. It’s time to kick back and relax, right? Before you bliss out, follow these practical tips to settle into home ownership.
Home ownership brings a great sense of accomplishment and pride. It’s a place to call your own, and for many, it’s the single biggest investment you’ll ever make. Being a homeowner provides comfort, joy and security, but it also bears the responsibility of making sure it’s well cared for. We’re here to take some of the guesswork out of new home ownership, by providing some practical tools and advice to get you started on the right foot.
Here are five easy ways to become an all-star homeowner.
1. Set up a rainy day or emergency savings fund
A significant change from renting to owning a home is the responsibility of managing repairs and upgrades. Putting a small amount of money into a high-interest savings account each month for prospective home repairs and maintenance costs can help lessen the impact of unanticipated costs on your monthly cash flow. Building the mindset that you will need to make repairs from time to time and having the cash ready will help make the cost of those fixes easier to swallow.
2. Get a sense of the repair time/cost lifecycle of your major appliances
Many homes come equipped with major appliances that you can start using right away. Make sure you find out where your appliances might be in their life cycle. Some of this information might be documented in your home inspection, or you can look at the serial number label of your appliances. The life expectancy of most appliances range anywhere from 6 to 10 years or more, and some, such as furnaces and freezers, can last twice as long. Learn how to regularly maintain your appliances to keep them running in top shape for years to come.
3. If you’re up for it, try to do your own routine maintenance.
Does the term DIY make your heart race? There are plenty of resources today that can teach you how to take care of some simple household jobs yourself. By keeping up with indoor and outdoor routine maintenance, like cleaning the eavestroughs or your dishwasher filter, you can avoid unnecessary repair costs down the road. If you’re not sure where to begin, a quick online search can provide a library of resources like this one. If you choose to learn a new skill yourself, have a “safety first” mentality and understand the potential risks of any home maintenance task. Bring in qualified specialists for any high-risk work or repairs.
4. Get to know your neighbours and help support your community.
Spend some time in your front yard and always be sure to welcome new residents to the community. Yearly block parties can be a great way to connect with your neighbours, and shopping within your immediate area can help support your local economy. Civic duties like community leagues or association boards can help you give back while making connections that will last a lifetime. Knowing your neighbours won’t just make you feel more at home, it’ll connect you to potential babysitters, dog walkers, jogging companions, helpers and friends for your kids. You might even meet top-notch neighbours who are willing to take in your mail, water your plants and keep an eye on your home while you’re on vacation. A vibrant community full of homeowners who care for their properties help increase the value of your home, too.
5. Get to know your home
As you get settled in your new home, you’ll become more acquainted with its “regular” noises and functions. Take the time to get acquainted with some important home features and don’t be afraid to ask your home inspector how some things work. You can ask your homeowner friends for tips and ideas too.
A quick list to get started includes:
- Labeling your electrical breakers. Take a small lamp and plug it in around the house to figure out what panel switch is where. Knowing how to use your circuit breaker is important. When a circuit breaker trips, it can mean the flip just needs to be switched back on, or it could indicate electrical repairs are needed.
- Locate water shut off values. If there’s an emergency or you’re doing water repairs, you’ll want to know how to access the valves to shut off your main water supply.
- Check out your HVAC system. The change of seasons can mean a swing of temperatures. Inspecting major appliances such as your furnace and air conditioner, knowing when to have them serviced and how to keep the filters clean can help you save big on repair costs due to neglect. Don’t forget to have your air ducts cleaned regularly to help your appliances work efficiently and to keep the air in your home clean. Learn how to get the most efficiency from your home, such as automated thermostats or ensuring window seals are intact.
- Locate and test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Test your smoke detectors every month to ensure they are working properly, and change the batteries seasonally.
Here’s to many years of confident and happy home ownership as you make your nest your own.