Congratulations on your new home! The excitement of becoming a homeowner comes with a list of tasks to ensure a smooth transition. Here are some essential things to do when you move into your new home:
- Change the Locks: For security reasons, it’s a good idea to change the locks on all exterior doors. You never know who might have copies of the keys from the previous owner.
- Update Address and Utilities: Notify the post office of your new address, update it with any relevant institutions (banks, employers, subscriptions), and transfer or set up utilities (electricity, gas, water, internet, etc.) in your name.
- Deep Clean: Take advantage of the empty space to thoroughly clean the entire home. This includes floors, windows, appliances, and cabinets. Consider hiring professionals for tasks like carpet cleaning or deep cleaning if needed.
- Inspect and Make Small Repairs: Check for any issues that may need attention, such as leaks, faulty wiring, or minor repairs. Addressing these early can prevent more significant problems down the line.
- Locate Shut-Off Valves: Know the location of important shut-off valves for water, gas, and electricity. In case of emergencies, you’ll want to be able to quickly and easily turn off these utilities.
- Set Up Home Security: Consider installing or updating home security measures, such as alarm systems or security cameras, to ensure the safety of your new home.
- Familiarize Yourself with the Circuit Breaker: Locate and label the circuit breaker box. This will be helpful in case of electrical issues or when making changes to lighting fixtures or outlets.
- Meet Your Neighbors: Building good relationships with your neighbors is not only friendly but can also be beneficial for safety and community awareness.
- Plan for Pest Control: Schedule pest control services or set up preventive measures to keep pests at bay. This is especially important in the early stages of homeownership.
- Create an Emergency Kit: Prepare an emergency kit with essentials like flashlights, batteries, first aid supplies, and important documents. Store it in an easily accessible location.
- Organize Important Documents: Gather and organize important documents related to your home purchase, mortgage, insurance, and warranties. Keep them in a safe and easily accessible place.
- Change Air Filters: Check and, if necessary, replace air filters in your HVAC system. Regular maintenance will improve air quality and system efficiency.
- Plan for Future Projects: Create a list of future projects or improvements you’d like to make to your home. Prioritize them based on budget and urgency.
- Set aside money for maintenance and repairs: Creating a “home” fund and setting aside a set amount monthly for your planned projects and unexpected repairs can help prepare you for whatever lies ahead.
- Decorate and Personalize: Unpack and start making your new house feel like a home. Decorate and arrange your furniture to create a comfortable and welcoming living space.
- Establish Lawn Care: If you have a yard, set up a lawn care routine. This may include mowing, weeding, and any other necessary maintenance tasks.
- Brush Up on Local Regulations: One of the less glamorous but essential aspects of homeownership is adhering to local regulations and guidelines when making modifications to your property. Whether you live in a neighborhood with a homeowners’ association (HOA), a specific municipality, or a historical building, being aware of and following local regulations is vital.
- Homeowners’ Association (HOA): Many residential areas are governed by HOAs, which have specific rules and guidelines regarding property modifications. Before embarking on any changes, review the HOA’s covenants, conditions, and restrictions (CC&Rs). These might cover anything from exterior paint colors to the types of fences allowed. Contact the HOA if you have questions or need clarification.
- Municipal, City, or County Regulations: Different municipalities have zoning and building regulations that dictate what you can and cannot do with your property. These rules cover a wide range of aspects, including building height, setbacks, additions, and renovations. Check with your local planning or building department to understand the specific regulations that apply to your property.
- Historical Districts: If your new home is located in a historical district, there may be additional regulations to preserve the character of the area. This could affect everything from the color of your home to the materials used in renovations. Check with your local historic preservation office to understand the guidelines and processes for making changes to a historically designated property.
- Permitting Process: Most jurisdictions require permits for certain types of work, especially if it involves structural changes or electrical and plumbing modifications. Research the permitting process in your area and ensure that you obtain the necessary permits before starting any work. Failure to do so could result in fines or having to undo the changes.
- Environmental Regulations: Some areas have regulations in place to protect the environment. This might include restrictions on removing certain trees or requirements for eco-friendly building materials. Be aware of any environmental regulations that may impact your property.
- Variances and Exceptions: In some cases, you might need to seek variances or exceptions to local regulations. This typically involves presenting your case to a local board or committee and demonstrating why the requested change is reasonable. Consult with local authorities to understand the process if you find yourself in need of a variance.
- Architectural Review Boards: Some communities have architectural review boards that assess proposed changes for aesthetic compatibility with the neighborhood. If your community has such a board, ensure you submit your plans for review before starting any work.
Engage Professionals: When in doubt, consult with professionals familiar with local regulations. Architects, contractors, or consultants experienced in your area can guide you through the process, ensuring that your plans align with local guidelines.
Remember, moving into a new home is a process, and taking the time to address these tasks early on will help you settle in smoothly and enjoy your new living space.