Hey there, new homeowner! How’s that new home checklist folder coming along? That’d be the one in your kitchen drawer, office desk or digitized on your favorite laptop — the one you keep returning to time and time again. It’s packed with useful new homeowner tips, like the list of things you need for a new home and things to do after a move, plus all the new homeowner information you’ve collected from anywhere and everywhere, including your “list of things to buy for a new home.” It’s your own customized version of a new homeowner guide, a reliable point of reference designed to help you meet your personal goals when it comes to taking care of your new home.
What’s that? You don’t have a homeowner checklist? No worries. There’s no time like the present to get started, and we’re here to help. It’s easy to let little (and not-so-little) home-related tasks slip your memory or disappear from your list throughout the year. You’ll get to them later, right? Well, now is later. Ready to get started? Take a look at our list below for some simple tasks to help you enter 2022 with your house in tiptop shape.
Pre-move checklist and priorities
Before you move, it just makes sense to get organized, but deciding where to begin when there’s so much to do can feel overwhelming. Here are several good places to start:
- Utilities: This one’s all about the basics. Before you bring a single box across the threshold of your new home, be sure your electricity, water and gas services are set up and ready to be used on move-in day, if not before.
- Internet and TV: Whether you still use cable or not, you’ll want to at least have your internet up and running when you walk in the door. Sure, you may have to take a moment to set up your Wi-Fi, but when it’s time to stream a movie later, you’ll be ready.
- Addresses: Your address is all over the place, even if you don’t use a checkbook. You might want to forward your mail to the new address, update any subscriptions you use, update any bills that still arrive by mail, and notify the DMV too.
- Documentation: If you don’t already have at least a small safe for your important documents, before the move is a good time to get one. Use it to secure all your important documents, like social security cards, passports, tax documents and insurance.
- Photos: Photographing your important valuables is something you should’ve already done for insurance purposes. If you haven’t, now is a great time to go around your house and take photos of valuables so that you have evidence of what you had before moving.
- Storage: Depending on how much stuff you plan on moving and how much room you have in your new home, get a plan together for storage. Whether this means checking out local rentals or redesigning closets, figure out how to make it fit.
- Local research: You’ll want to investigate more around town too. Which sorts of local businesses do you plan on frequenting? From restaurants to mail centers and libraries to barbers and doctors, you’ll have options to consider. Take a day or two just to explore.
- Time off: Speaking of taking a day or two, go ahead and plan for the time off you’ll need for the move, and don’t forget to give yourself a few days’ cushion on each side of the main event. Having a little extra time can help you both prepare and recover.
- Cleaning: No matter the age or condition of your new home, you’ll want the peace of mind that comes with knowing it’s freshly cleaned. Whether you do it yourself or hire someone, get it sparkling before you begin moving in.
- Home improvements: Depending on your arrangement with the seller, your move-in may be contingent on certain repairs or improvements that need to be completed before the move or could be ongoing as you move in. Make sure you sort out the details first.
- Packing: Simplified packing consists of categorizing everything you own into three piles: donate, trash and keep. Get rid of all you can and make use of all that’s useful. Remember, less is more, but not when it comes to time. Give yourself plenty.
Post-move checklist and priorities
After the move and successfully relocating, the toughest parts are now complete. This doesn’t mean the work is over, though! Getting settled can take a while. Here are some ideas:
- Unpacking: Everyone has a different pace for unpacking, but the kitchen and the bathroom are great places to start. Knock out the essentials and move on from there.
- Locks: Step one for optimal security consists of changing all the locks in your new home. Whether you want yours to be smart or not is a question worth researching.
- Valves: Knowing where various shutoff valves for essential services like water and gas are located inside and outside your home is something any homeowner needs to know.
- Circuit breakers: Just as vital to your home’s functionality is the fuse box housing all your circuit breakers. If yours isn’t labeled, hire a professional so you know what’s what.
- Security: Step two on your journey toward a more secure home is the addition of a security system. Considering an upgrade or a new system should be a priority.
- Storage: In addition to deciding whether you need external storage, focus on improving the storage space within your new home to make the best of the space you have.
- Extra key: Getting locked out of your home is no fun. Whether your solution is smart locks, a friendly neighbor with an extra key or a fake rock that hides one, decide now.
- Smoke detectors: Speaking of safety, you’ll want to make sure your smoke detectors, carbon monoxide detectors and fire extinguishers are up to date and ready for action.
- HVAC: Your HVAC system is a big investment. An inspection is an essential step toward making sure you have your home’s heating and cooling systems well taken care of.
- Toilets: While you’re at it, make sure every toilet in the house is doing what it needs to do, quickly and effectively. If not, call in a pro to see about repairs or replacements.
- Showers: If your water pressure isn’t up to snuff, or you notice any drainage problems, here’s another instance where you may want the advice of a plumber.
- Water heaters: Depending on its age and performance, you might have plenty of years of good service left to expect from your water heater. If yours performs well, don’t worry.
- Home maintenance checklist: Moving tends to demand all your attention, but don’t forget all the other seasonal upkeep! Start with our fall home maintenance checklist.
One idea you may not have considered is to pack one big box with a variety of essential moving supplies or “first day items” that you can plan to open before any other boxes. Mark it with colorful tape or paint so it stands out amongst all the others. You can fill yours with:
- Paper towels, disposable cups, dishes and cutlery, cleaning spray, water bottles and TP
- Soap, shampoo, toothbrushes, toothpaste, floss, deodorant, bath towels and washcloths
- Sheets, pillows, blankets, nightshirts, phone chargers, extension cords and paperbacks
- A fresh change of comfortable clothes and shoes, bottled beverages of choice and some cash
Review your home insurance coverage
While you may be able to get away with light insurance coverage on that older car that you rarely drive, you should never skimp on the coverage you carry on your house. If anything catastrophic were to happen, that home insurance policy is what will keep you from losing potentially hundreds of thousands of dollars or spending every cent of your savings in repairs. Keep in mind, too, that a good home insurance policy has provisions for a wide range of other unfortunate possibilities. Your home insurance policy should provide coverage in the following cases, for example:
- A visitor to your home gets hurt on your property
- Items are stolen from your home during a break-in
- You need to live elsewhere while your home is repaired after a covered disaster
Your home insurance needs can — and probably will — change over the years. Have you renovated or remodeled your home? Have you purchased or inherited valuable items, such as jewelry or artwork? If you answered yes to either of those questions, your current home insurance policy might not provide sufficient coverage for your needs, especially if you haven’t given the policy a second thought since the day you closed on your house. Give your insurance agent a call as we wrap up 2021, and make sure your policy fits your current lifestyle and circumstances.
Read over any warranty contracts or service agreements
Do you have a home warranty policy? What about a service agreement with your local HVAC or plumbing company? Take the time now to review those contracts and agreements, and make sure they’re still meeting your needs. Did you use any of these services last year? If you didn’t — and if tightening your budget is on your docket for 2022 — look into whether stepping down to a less costly plan is an option. You might also need to shop around and compare prices. The home protection plans offered by Cinch Home Services, for example, give you several choices, so you can stick to your budget without sacrificing the protection you want.
Some service agreements, particularly those for HVAC and plumbing services, are must-haves only if your systems are older and need consistent maintenance. If your home’s HVAC and plumbing systems are relatively new, you might not need the priority service these agreements grant. It is certainly nice to jump to the head of the line when it comes time to schedule your biannual HVAC service call, but if your furnace or air-conditioning unit was installed within the past three to five years, you might be able to put the money you’d spend on an annual service agreement to better use elsewhere in your 2021 budget.
Check on your home’s major systems
Regardless of whether you choose to sign up for a service agreement for any of your home’s major systems, don’t skip the annual or biannual service calls. If everything checks out and the technician doesn’t find any issues, that’s great! The service call fee is money well spent for peace of mind. Consistent preventive maintenance is key to catching small issues before they become catastrophic. If the technician does find something, it’s far more likely that the fix will be minor if you’ve stuck to a regular maintenance schedule.
Test backup or infrequently used appliances
Depending on where in the country you live, you’ve likely already experienced some pretty cold weather by the time the winter holidays roll around. If the worst of winter is still in store for you at the first of the year, however, it’s a good idea to make sure any cold-weather gear is in working order and ready for when the temperature takes a nosedive. If you have a generator, test it (following the manufacturer’s instructions, of course), and make sure you have a safely stored fuel supply available for it. Inspect any supplemental heaters to ensure they are also in good shape to provide safe, reliable heat if needed.
While you’re at it, double-check that your lawn equipment has been drained of fuel and winterized correctly. It might seem silly to be dragging out your lawn mower and other gasoline-powered landscaping equipment with snow in the forecast, but this extra step will help you avoid a trip to a small-engine repair shop come springtime.
Thoroughly inspect your house and yard for water damage and erosion issues
A rainy summer and fall can equal water damage inside your house and eroded soil outside — not how you want to enter a new year! Winter is typically a wet season, although that moisture might come in either liquid or solid form. Regardless, water that ends up where it doesn’t need to be can spell disaster for your house. As we shoo 2021 out the door, thoroughly inspect your house and property for telltale signs of water damage and erosion, which include:
- Off-color or brown stains on ceilings and around pipes
- Moldy, musty smells, or visible mold or mildew
- Damaged, peeling paint or wallpaper
- Gaps underneath concrete slabs (e.g., your driveway, front walkway or patio)
- Low spots in the yard that collect water and seldom fully dry out
If you notice any issues, get in touch with a contractor to arrange a full inspection and any necessary repairs. Letting more time pass will only worsen the damage.
Visually scan your roof for missing or damaged shingles
Strong autumn storms can do a number on your roof, so be sure to keep an eye out for shingle damage. Don’t compromise your safety by walking around on the roof. You can get an excellent general idea of your roof’s post-storm condition with your feet firmly on the ground. Leave the heights and the ladders to the experts.
In most cases, you’ll see obvious gaps where shingles have blown off the roof, and you will likely also be able to spot shingles that are slightly out of place, usually from being torn. Missing or ripped shingles don’t provide all the protection your house needs from the elements, so call a roofing company pronto to make the repairs. Wondering what’s covered under a home warranty? Read this.
Thanks so much for reading our “what to do after you buy a house” checklist. Hopefully, it includes some useful homeowner basics you can rely on repeatedly as you embark on the epic journey of homeownership. If you’re eager to learn more, we’ve stockpiled our best posts on related and relevant topics, like whether your home warranty covers your roof, how a home warranty can help you avoid scary repairs, and how to turn your house into an energy-efficient home. You may also wish to read more about home appliance warranty plans or any number of other topics. Thanks for stopping by! We’re glad you’re here.
Whether you’re excited for 2022 or a little apprehensive (and understandably so) about what the new year will bring, Cinch Home Services has your back. Homeownership is a lot of work! But we are so excited to join you on the adventure and to lend our tips and expertise to help make your life at home easier. Subscribe to our newsletter and follow us on Facebook to make sure you don’t miss an update from our team.
The information in this article is intended to provide guidance on the proper maintenance and care of systems and appliances in the home. Not all of the topics mentioned are covered by our home warranty or maintenance plans. Please review your home warranty contract carefully to understand your coverage.