If you recently bought a new home, you’re not alone. Home sales are on the rise, with seasonal averages ranging from 557,000 to 654,000 sales per month in 2018, according to recent data.
For those first-time homeowners, the first week of moving into a new house can be overwhelming, with what feels like hundreds of things to get done—and no clue where to start. Don’t stress out. Instead, tackle these five manageable tasks to get settled in.
1. Set Up Monthly Services
One of the first items on your to-do list should be the utilities—and it’s also something that’s easily forgotten in the hustle and bustle of moving. Whether you transfer services from your previous residence or start a new account, make sure to get this done before your move. Your first night at home will be nothing but stressful if you realize the electricity is off after a long day moving and unpacking boxes.
If you move into a home with an HOA (Homeowners Association), you may pay fees that go toward some paid services that you’d otherwise set up when moving into your new home, like landscaping. They may also deal with garbage collection and snow removal, so check with your HOA to make sure you set up the right services.
2. Check the Locks
Security is of utmost importance in your new home and that starts with getting the locks checked and re-keyed. “New homeowners should inspect the locks, to see if the general operations function to their liking. As long as they do, and they work well with the current keys etc., then a locksmith can simply rekey them,” suggests Lockology Locksmith, San Francisco based locksmiths.
Lockology says that, in 80 percent of lock changes they do, customers opt to keep the hardware and just rekey, but upgrading to smart technology is a good idea. Not only is this easy to install yourself within your first week of moving in, but the key code can be changed regularly, to maintain the best security.
Don’t forget to check your garage door, in addition to the home doors. While the lock should be checked, don’t forget to address another safety concern: a gap between the door and the ground. In 5 Reasons Why You Need Garage Door Maintenance Now, Puls explains, “As time goes on, your garage door may develop gaps due to warping caused by water and other elements. If you do not keep these areas sealed, you increase your risk of allowing rodents, critters and possibly intruders who find it easy to slip underneath your garage door.”
3. Double Check All the Safety Issues From Inspection
Use your home inspection checklist as the first resource for finding and fixing potential safety issues. Here are a few examples of areas and tasks that should addressed right away:
- Clear all air vents of dust and make sure you don’t accidentally cover them with furniture while moving in.
- Check air filters for your furnace or air conditioning systems and replace if needed. You should be changing your air filters quarterly, according to EnergyStar. This change might be overdue, especially if your home was on the market for a while.
- Check for water leaks under toilets or sinks. Even small leaks can lead to an increase in water bills, or worse, property damage.
- Double check the temperature on your water heater. The recommended temperature is 140 degrees Fahrenheit (at least); get more information from CNet’s guide.
- Get new smoke detectors if needed. According to the National Fire Protection Agency, you should have a smoke alarm on every floor of your home, in each sleeping room and outside each sleeping area.
4. Start With Repairs
If there are any important repairs, like fixing a loose handrail or leaky faucet, or even painting rooms, consider making these a priority before you fully unpack. It’s easier to have a handyman or painter complete a project before you clean, unpack, and settle in.
Use your home inspection list as a guide for what you need to do right away. Look for items marked as “need attention,” and DIY or schedule a professional to come during the first week to take care of these. Ask your real estate agent for handyman recommendations or look for locally recommended services on sites like Angie’s List. If you’re new to the area, now’s the time to find a trustworthy handyman that you can call when something comes up.
5. Locate All Cut-Off Switches and Valves
There are a few important switches and valves in your home that you should be able to locate quickly, in case of maintenance or an emergency. Make this a priority, between unpacking and cleaning, so you don’t forget once you get back into the everyday routines of life.
Start with the main shut-off water valve. You’ll need this to shut off the water supply for repairs or in case there’s a leak. It can be found near the perimeter of your home, on the ground floor. The location of this valve will be included on your inspection report, suggests Len the Plumber.
Next, look for the gas line valve. According to the Family Handyman, these are usually by the gas meters in your home, and it’s good to know in case of emergencies like an earthquake, or for maintenance/appliance installations. Note that there are street-side valves, most often used with natural gas homes, and these can be found next to the water meter. “Gas companies don’t want you operating this valve,” says Family Handyman. Instead, use the house-side valve, which is often located where the pipe first enters the home.
Don’t forget to find the circuit breaker or electrical panel, if the inspector hasn’t already showed you. It’s always better to know where this is before you blow a fuse and need to go looking for it.
Enjoy Your New Home!
There will be many tasks as a new homeowner, so get these out of the way before the list starts piling up. Within just a few days, you’ll already be feeling like a true homeowner.
Jessica Thiefels has been writing for more than 10 years and has written for a wide variety of publications, including AARP, Reader’s Digest and Lifehack and regularly contributes to The Financial Diet, Remax and Homes.com and more. Follow her on Twitter @JThiefels and connect on LinkedIn.