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What’s it really like to own a new house for the first time? Homes are more affordable than they’ve been in over a decade.* So, there’s a big chance that you or someone you love will be buying a house in the near future — and will be needing this advice.
The 9 totally unexpected tasks every new homeowner might face
We asked again, and homeowners answered. Here’s what first-time and seasoned homeowners on our team had to say.
As a homeowner, you might:
1. Install a new toilet.
Really. Whether it’s an upgrade or a much-needed replacement, a plumber’s price for putting in a new toilet doesn’t run cheap. It’s estimated at up to $260, not including the actual cost of the toilet. Thankfully, installing a new toilet isn’t as hard as you’d think.
“It’s shutting off the water, draining the remaining water, then unscrewing four to five bolts. The rest is essentially just reversing that process.” – Chris
2. Invest in rain gutters.
“Most homes don’t have new rain gutters unless you upgrade them. But rain gutters protect your home from a lot of potential damage: Rainwater can ruin your foundation, splash dirt on your siding, cause your fascia boards to rot, and more.” – Munni
3. Make minor improvements.
Get acquainted with YouTube tutorials: The odds of taking on a few home repairs yourself are high. Replacing light switches and fixtures is fairly straightforward — just remember to cut off the power at the breaker.
“From there, you’ll usually only need to undo three color-coded wires from the old fixture and replace with the new.” – Chris
“Upgrading from those ugly yellow plugs and light switches is easy to do and makes a huge difference. I’ve also fixed over-painted and over-patched drywall: Add coats of mud, wet sand with a sponge, apply PV primer and a can of spray texture, and paint, and it looks like a brand-new wall.” – Austin
If you want to dig deeper, here’s exactly what you can expect from us when you buy.
4. Mount and drill.
Compared to rental living where many landlords may limit or prohibit wall hangings, your walls are now your own to do with as you please. To get everyone settled in, your first move is likely to be mounting your TV.
“Wall-mounted TVs are life. But if you’re going to hide the wires, do it correctly and safely. Your TV’s power cord isn’t rated to be run through a wall, which can be a fire hazard and potentially void your home warranty. Amazon kits allow you to install two outlets with an electrical cord rated for interior walls using a stencil and drywall saw. Just think of it as a wall-rated extension cord no one will see.”
Also: “Be careful where you drill. I was hanging shelves in the nursery. Using my stud finder, I located what I thought was my stud. What it ended up being was a copper pipe running up to the hot water heater in my attic. In hindsight, I was moving too quickly. The pipe was an inch over from the actual stud. Know where your main water shut-off valve is too.” – Matt
5. Reinsulate your attic.
After spending time in isolation, you may be looking for creative ways to convert previously unused space. Insulating a garage or a shed can give you access to another room to use in all seasons. Insulating or reinsulating can also reduce energy consumption, lower heating bills, and even increase your home’s value.
“I’m about to reinsulate my attic with blown-in insulation by myself. I’ll also be insulating my garage walls the same way — I’m turning my garage into a gym/office and adding a mini-split AC.” – Austin
6. Replace your carpets.
This can be a big help for adults and children with allergies — especially in a family with pets. It can also improve aesthetics. Carpets collect allergens, dust mites, and dander. And with daily foot traffic, they’re notoriously hard to clean.
“Our toddler had eczema, asthma, and allergies, and we couldn’t figure out what was triggering them. Seasonal allergies really can’t be helped, but we saw a difference when we removed all the carpet from the kids’ rooms and put in air purifiers.” – Mark & Bethany
7. Upgrade your AC.
Start by installing ceiling fans in every room; not all rooms come with ceiling fans in a new house. This will help with air circulation and keeping the house cool. Don’t forget to reverse the direction of the blades on cold days to circulate the warm air throughout the house.
Then ask: How comfortable and cool do I want to be? “Invest in your AC unit to ensure you have a proper cooling system fit for your home during those hot summers. You don’t want to get caught in the heat with a huge, unplanned expense.” – Fernando
8. Use your home warranty.
It’s there for a reason. But until something breaks or malfunctions, you might not give a second thought to the home warranty you picked — and purchased — when you bought your house.
“My advice would be to look at your home warranty and see what’s covered! I thought all my major appliances were covered, and when my dishwasher broke, I hadn’t paid for the ‘upgraded’ coverage, so it wasn’t included.” – Shelbi
9. Winterize your sprinkler system.
For those who have a sprinkler system: When grass has gone dormant, and you’re no longer watering, it’s time to prep your system for the winter.
Every system is a little different, but generally speaking:
Locate your sprinkler valve and turn the handles 45 degrees.
Then locate a small hole with what looks like a screw head near it.
Using a Phillips screwdriver, turn the head until the bleed valve opens.
If you look inside the small hole, you will see it open up.
“This allows excess water to bleed out of the line, preventing water from freezing in your pipes and leaving you to discover a break when you start the system back up in spring.” – Matt
Becoming a homeowner has never been so easy (or fast)
Take your time picking the home you love, and once you do, let us take care of the time waste. While other lenders are closing borrowers in 45 days, our borrowers are getting home faster.** Get prequalified remotely and get your keys.
*“Housing Affordability Index.” National Association of REALTORS®, 2020.
**“Origination Insight Report.” Ellie Mae, June 2020.
For educational purposes only. Please contact your qualified professional for specific guidance.
Sources are deemed reliable but not guaranteed.
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