You bought your first house! Congratulations! Take some time to vacuum at 3am, walk around naked, and celebrate with friends and family and champagne. There’s no better feeling than those first few days in your house. Your house. Those words feel wonderful, don’t they?
Now, let’s get practical.
The first few months of owning a home matter hugely to the future of your house. It’s not all parties and relaxing. Here’s our basic checklist for what to do during the infancy of your new home:
1) Change the locks
You probably aren’t the only one with keys to your new house—especially if your new house has lived through a few decades and a few owners. Change all the locks as soon as you can. While you’re at it, we also recommend replacing weak doorframes and bad windows. Burglars often make their move right after someone moves in, when your things are still boxed up and easy to carry, and when the neighbors won’t be suspicious about someone hauling things to and from your home. The sooner you install new locks, the better.
2) Get toilet plungers
Plungers are one of those things that you’re going to need sooner or later, and you absolutely don’t want to get caught without one. You especially don’t want your guests to get caught without one. Make sure you stock the guest bathroom with a plunger, and we recommend putting one in every other bathroom, too. Frantically asking “Where’s the plunger!?” is a conversation no one wants to have.
3) Identify your house
Stand in the street and look at your house the way a stranger would look at it. What stands out? The rock wall? The bay windows? That awesome front porch? Pick one characteristic, and bam! You now know how to tell guests which house is yours when they visit for the first time. I call my house “the one with that weird lamppost in the front lawn.”
4) Make a reference book
Record every bit of information about your new house. You already have most of the information available right now, so compile it and save it in an easy-to-access place. Include:
- Listing and inspection information
- Contact information for utilities
- Your contractors’ names, contact information, and records of what work they did (and when they did it)
- Model and serial number of major appliances (fridge, washer, dryer, etc), as well as warrantee information, user manuals, and purchase date
- Trash, recycling, and yard waste pickup schedule
- Contact information for your mortgage, insurance, and local tax authority
- Whenever you make a repair or remodel in the future, add that info to your logbook.
Put all of this in a physical binder that will act as a reference book for years and years to come. You might think you’ll remember all these details about your beloved new house, but… trust us. We forget these things. And with a reference book, you don’t even need to try to remember. You have it in print!
5) Plan future improvements
This is the best time to figure out what you want to repair/improve/remodel. When will your house need a new roof? How soon do you want to spruce up the lawn? Do you want to update the kitchen? Make a list and prioritize, and then set a timeline and start saving accordingly. If you put aside money every month, you’ll be able to stick to a timeline.
If you want advice on those future improvements, we are more than happy to help. We don’t ever just help you find a house and then leave—we love staying in touch with our clients and advising them on remodels, recommending contractors, and just catching up from time to time. This is about community!
6) Spend cautiously
Don’t buy anything expensive for a while. Your house and insurance payments have just changed drastically, and you’ll need to adjust to the change. Get a feel for what your utility payments will be, prepare for unexpected repairs, and play it safe. You’ve just made the best investment of your life, but after that down payment, you probably don’t have a lot of cash reserves. Caution is king for the next few years.