Homeownership is awesome, no doubt about it.
But it can also come with a lot of headaches, especially if your dream home turns out to be a money pit. However, there are a few things you should do as soon as your buy a home to ensure that everything is properly taken care of and that you won’t have any headaches later on.
1. Replace the locks
It doesn’t matter if you are moving into a brand-new home or a previously owned unit; replace the locks immediately. You have no idea who the previous owner gave keys to. And in the case of a new home, the building contractor may have hundreds of keys for hundreds of houses, and who knows how many employees could have had access to them? For simple peace of mind, replace locks as soon as you move in.
2. Tape cracks
Most homes will have some cracks from the weight of the house settling over time, but you want to make sure you aren’t facing a major foundation problem down the road. If you see any cracking in your basement or patio areas, place a piece of tape at the end of the crack and write the date on it. After a few months check the tape to see if the crack has gotten any bigger/longer. If so, you could have a foundation problem that needs fixing now.
3. Inspect for damage
Take a look at the home inspection report again and take note of the details. If you find undisclosed damage within the first few months, your homeowners insurance may cover it. And if the damage is grievous enough, you may even be able to go after the previous owners for compensation.
4. Check insulation
Inspect the attic for insulation thickness and damage. In some states, new homeowners can receive a tax credit for improving their home insulation within the first year.
5. Check pipes
Check the water system of your home for leaks and insulation. Fixing damage to your pipes will save you bundles in water damage costs later on. If necessary, wrap your pipes with insulation and throw an insulation blanket around your hot water heater to save on energy costs.
6. Replace the air filter
The previous owners were probably too busy trying to sell their house to check the air filter—or they may have simply forgotten about it for the past few years. Either way, check the air filter on your furnace, and replace it as soon as possible.
7. Apply for tax credits
Right now, there are a number of new homeowner tax credits and refunds that you can apply for through the federal government or through various state programs. Make sure you have all your paperwork in order and file for the credits right away. Many of these programs have limited budgets and the sooner you apply, the more likely you are to get some money back. Photo by Sanjoy Ghosh.