Congratulations, you’re a new homeowner! Now, what do you need for a new home? It’s a broad question, but we’ll try to help answer it in some detail. For example, while you might want to live in your home for a year or two before considering any major renovations or home improvement resolutions, it makes sense to look at protection plans and what they can do for you as soon as you move.
If you just started moving in to your new place or anticipate that first triumphant walk over the threshold of your new home soon, we couldn’t be happier for you. Our new house checklist is a good starting point for getting organized as you move in. Landing a home is no small accomplishment, so you deserve to celebrate! Meanwhile, we’ve put together this new homeowner checklist. It should be useful as you begin to settle in, helping you determine what new homeowner things to buy and which tasks you should prioritize.
Start a homeowner’s folder
Setting up a new house checklist can be daunting because there are so many things to carefully consider, but don’t let it stress you out. We’ll do our best to help you narrow it down. Step one on your new homeowner checklist is to dedicate a file folder — whether digital or in hard copy — for all the important papers related to your new home. Begin with mortgage documentation and inspection reports. Include a land survey confirming your distinct property lines. Also include insurance documents and receipts for any improvements and repairs you put your money and sweat equity into. Having all this information organized will be helpful over the years as a reference guide, and it should serve as a bonus for buyers when you sell.
Change the locks and think security
Your home’s security should always be a priority. That means finding a locksmith you trust and getting all the locks and keys changed as soon as you can. Make an appointment for the locksmith; you could even schedule it to coincide with your arrival. As the movers move you in, the locksmith can install the new locks. Don’t forget to have a few spare keys made, and determine a hiding place or two for the inevitable locked-out scenario. You might also consider modern smart locking systems that operate via your smartphone instead of traditional keys, though these systems can be hacked. Consider where you’d like your packages to arrive, and inform your carriers of where to leave them; this might include the addition of a theft-deterrent locking box with a combination keypad for carriers. Along with keeping your doors and windows locked, you might also want to think about an alarm system, motion-sensing lights, cameras or video doorbells.
Check fire extinguishers, and smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
Speaking of security, extend that safety-first attitude to include fully functional smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every floor, as well as fully loaded and annually inspected fire extinguishers. There are few more cost-effective measures you can take to protect your family than making sure you’re well-stocked and ready with these devices.
Stock your first-aid cabinet and cleaning supplies
One last word about safety, though you can’t overstate its importance: Get well-stocked with first-aid supplies so you’re ready for anything. This means you should have a full kit in every vehicle as well as one (or better yet two) within your home. Each kit should contain items like antiseptics, painkillers, tape, bandages, scissors, gloves, super glue, and a sewing kit with needle and thread. Replace any expired items. While you’re at it, make sure you have what you need for a thorough, deep cleaning of every room inside your home. Nothing makes each room more inviting than a deep clean.
Find your electrical panel and get familiar with it
In case you didn’t notice it during the inspection process, be sure to locate and familiarize yourself with your home’s electrical panel. Typically, this is a gray metal box with a door that covers a fuse box or circuit breakers. It’s often found in utility or laundry rooms, basements or attics, and it’s an important place to recognize as well as understand because it contains the controls for all the electrical circuits that power your home’s various zones.
Find your main water valve
On the rare occasion that you’ll need to turn off the water supply to your entire home, it’s a good idea to know where the main shut-off valve is in case of an emergency. In colder climates, these valves are often located somewhere inside the home to avoid freezing temperatures. In warmer parts of the country, they’re often located in the ground near the street, near an exterior wall, or in a box near the home. Most are designed not to be tampered with, but you should find yours and familiarize yourself with its use. If you can’t find it, ask your home inspector to help.
Check out the basement (or crawl space) and attic
Though you might spend little time in the crawl space, basement or attic, you need to thoroughly investigate each of these spaces so you know what you’re dealing with before you have any problems. If you notice any issues with moisture, mold, insects, rodents, damaged plumbing or insulation, you’ll be better off knowing about it ahead of time so you can plan on how to get things fixed or replaced before they snowball into something worse.
Clean your air ducts and replace your air filters
Dryers are the most common cause of fires inside homes, so it’s worth taking the time to make sure your dryer and the entirety of its venting duct are clear of lint and any other obstructions. Cleaning away excess lint inside and outside the dryer can also significantly improve its efficiency. The same could be said of your HVAC ducts, especially if they haven’t been professionally cleaned in years. Go ahead and change all the furnace filters you have access to in your home, and make note of the date you changed them. Depending on how clean you keep your home and whether you have pets, smokers, carpets and kids, you may need to change your filters as often as monthly or as rarely as every six months. This is something to monitor over time, and it’s worth getting into the habit of changing filters regularly.
Clean your HVAC and refrigerator coils
This one may be a little counterintuitive, but the difference a little DIY cleaning can make when applied to your HVAC system might surprise you. After cutting power to the unit, vacuum the fins, clear away any plant matter that could impede airflow within a few feet, and clean out the blower compartment and the condensation drain. While you’re at it, clean your refrigerator’s condenser coils, which you can find in the back of or underneath the unit. These can collect dirt, dust and debris, which can impede performance and increase energy demand.
Stock your kitchen supplies
Make sure you have all the essentials you need for your kitchen so you can start cooking sooner rather than later. It’s fun to subsist on carryout for a few days, but soon you and your crew will crave those inimitable scents and flavors that only a home-cooked meal can produce. Everything from pots and pans to spatulas and oven mitts are important. You know your kitchen needs best, so we’ll leave that list-making task to you. Consider this one a priority!
Outfit your bathrooms, bedrooms, living room and office
Each one of these rooms is important, and each has its own set of essential items that make it as functional as possible. Once you’ve unpacked, go through each room one at a time and think about what you lack. Do you need another shower curtain? Perhaps a new set of sheets? A new table for the breakfast room or an extra desk lamp in the office? Make a list for each room.
Outfit your outdoors
Don’t forget that you’re going to need some tools to maintain your little slice of nature, whether it’s a postage stamp of a yard or a multiacre spread. Start thinking in terms of hoses, rakes, shovels, lawn mowers and the like. How much will you do yourself, and how much storage space will your tools require? Do you need to add a toolshed to accommodate everything? Think outdoor thoughts.
Try to relax
Well, we hope your “checklist for new home” experience feels a little less overwhelming at this point. If you’ve made it through this whole post with us, we have considerable confidence that you’ll be able to put your own list together without much trouble. Remember, there are plenty of advantages to buying a home warranty after closing, which can save you a lot of time, energy and money. Above all, don’t forget to relax and enjoy your new home. You’ve earned it. Things might not look perfect all at once, but if you knock out every item on your list, it’ll all be just the way you want it before long.
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.