If you thought the mountains of paperwork, home inspections, and mortgage applications were the end of the new house buying experience, wait until you get settled into your new home and stuff starts breaking. For first-time homeowners, the lead-up Moving Day in is full of anxiety, confusion, and stress. The ownership part of home ownership is no different–at least when you start out. The problem is, you don’t know what you don’t know, and you desperately need a new home maintenance checklist to start you off on the right foot.
The good news is, nobody knows what they don’t know when they’ve never done it before! Your 60-year-old neighbor who stares sidelong at you, scrutinizing your every move, as you get on the roof for the first time to clean the gutters–he may look like an expert from your perspective, but he wasn’t always an expert. Thirty years ago, he was in your shoes, feeling uncertain about his new-home-know-how, and some older, wiser neighbor was probably looking on with the same critical eye. And while you may not be an expert now, if you keep up with the regular maintenance that’s required of homeowners, you’ll not only have a strong and healthy house or decades to come, but if you’re lucky you’ll one day have the great honor of staring skeptically at the new homeowners who move in next to you someday.
The 1% Rule of Maintenance
The “1% Rule” says that about 1% of the cost of your home should be saved every year for home maintenance. That doesn’t mean a $250,000 home will require $2,500 every year to maintain. It means only that you’re prepared if something does go wrong. Obviously, the age of your house, the size, and the weather where you live can either complicate or simplify the application of this rule, but it’s a good start to mentally preparing you for the extra investment you’ll want to make to keep your home in tip top shape.A Little Now Saves a Lot Later
Another rule of thumb is, for every $1 in maintenance you spend now, you save $100 later. This may sound like an exaggeration, but if anything it’s probably a conservative maxim. Vacuuming the coils of your refrigerator twice a year can add years to the life of your fridge, and at a cost of nothing. Replacing furnace and air conditioning filters will significantly reduce how hard your unit has to work to do its job, and a filter costs $5 compared to $4,000 for a new unit. This isn’t an absolute: just doing home maintenance won’t keep you from ever having to replace your appliances. But it does add years to the life of your appliances and at a fraction of the cost of replacing them.
You can and should apply these rules to everything. A minor grout patch will cost $10 and 15 minute on YouTube, which is thousands less than it would cost to replace a floor and hundreds less than replacing a wall that sustained water damage as a result of a leak. Gutters will rot out and drip down the side of your house if they’re not cleaned in the winter. Sealing cracks in stucco or siding can cost as little as $20 a year in exterior sealant, saving hundreds to thousands compared to the overhauls needed if left unrepaired for too long. All of these are easy home maintenance jobs if you’re paying attention, which is the first step in the process of knowing what you don’t know.
Make yourself a new home checklist. Separate it by season, or even by month. It should look something like this:Spring Replace batteries in smoke & carbon monoxide detectors Inspect bathroom grout and re-caulk any visible cracks Using binoculars safely from the ground, examine the roof for loose or missing shingles. Summer Vacuum fridge coils Clean kitchen exhaust hood & filter Inspect foundation for bugs or moisture Fall Clean gutters, trim trees and shrubs Schedule a furnace service (it’s cheaper in the fall than winter) Check all plumbing handles and hoses for leaks or moisture, tighten and lubricate as needed Winter Clean dryer vent and check washer and dishwasher hoses Inspect sinks, tubs, and toilets Garage door hinges and seals
This list is far from exhaustive, but it’s a good place to start. As these home maintenance inspections and your house become familiar to you, you’ll not only find new things to look for, but you’ll find that little things break, crack, or need fresh paint or re-caulking. Indoor walls, baseboards, and window frames aren’t going to cause structural issues, but they’ll need a little TLC nonetheless.A plumber is performing maintenance on a residential water heater Monthly Necessities
You can live without a dishwasher. You can’t live without a roof. Keep that in mind when you’re running through your home maintenance checklist. There are four main items that are vital to the core of every house: siding/stucco, roof, windows, and heating/cooling systems. If any one of these falters, you’re in for an expensive project. A few minutes every month–no more than a simple visual inspection–could save weeks of home repair headache and months of your paycheck. Look at the roof, gutters, downspouts, exterior windows, basements walls and windows, and attic. As far as furnaces and AC units, annual or twice-annual servicing can do the job, but checking them regularly for noises, obstructions, and dirt or outside debris is easy to do. Anywhere you see cracks, moisture, rot, bugs, or holes, you have a problem.A New Home Homeowner’s Best Friend
The Money Pit is a quick an easy resource if you run into an issue. Of course, the difficulty of the job determines the level of expertise needed to fix it. And we highly encourage you to shop for an expert when one is called for, but for hose replacements, simple cleaning jobs, grout patching, caulking, winterizing, and even questions about what to look for when you’re inspecting your house, The Money Pit’s how-to resources are virtually limitless, so make sure to bookmark our site and check back with us for more new home maintenance checklists, tips and tricks to keeping your new house a warm and structurally sound home for years to come!
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From Source Article: moneypit.com
Vacations can be a time of joy, laughter … and burglaries. Yes, unfortunately, burglaries are more common than we’d imagine. Even daylight hours won’t deter some bolder burglars. To avoid becoming another crime statistic, follow these home security tips to make your home less attractive to burglars, thieves and other uninvited guests.Bright Lights
Crime experts agree that a well-lit home is much less likely to be broken into. Keep the exterior of your home illuminated on all sides. One of the best ways to burglar proof your home is to install motion-detector spot lights. They have built-in sensors that automatically turn the lights on when movement is detected in the area. Nothing is more surprising to a thief than to have spot lights fire up in his face – before he gets within 50 feet of the house.
To make the indoors burglar proof, use timer switches on lights. These simple devices cost only a few dollars each, yet can create the appearance of activity inside your house 24 hours a day. Use at least one timer per floor, usually in the living room and bedroom. Set the living room light to stay on from dusk until about midnight. In the bedroom, set the timer to keep the light on from about 9pm until 1 or 2 in the morning. Any criminal watching your home will think twice about breaking into a house that looks occupied.Low-Lying Landscape
Dark houses surrounded by tall trees or high bushes give burglars plenty of cover to do their dirty work. To burglar proof your landscape, keep trees cut away from the house and make sure the bushes are trimmed low. Thugs can hide in bushes while breaking in or even lie-in-wait, ready to attack the first person to get home.Alarm Systems
The cost of installing a good quality alarm system has come down in recent years due to increased competition and technology that makes installations simpler and quicker. In fact, some companies even offer to install “free” systems if you hire them to do monthly monitoring. Most home security systems connect your telephone to the company’s central monitoring station. If the alarm goes off, the station can alert police or fire officials.
One of the most common complaints about home security systems is excessive false alarms caused by malfunctions. If your alarm goes off all the time, neighbors and police may not take the alarm seriously if a real emergency exists. So, be careful when selecting alarm companies and check references carefully.Durable Doors
Making your doors as strong as possible can deter break-ins by violent criminals. There are several simple improvements to burglar proof your home:First, install a good quality dead-bolt. Doors with handle locks can be broken into with only a plastic credit card. Dead bolts, on the other hand, require hammer force to break in. Make sure you buy a dead bolt with a key on the outside and a thumb-latch on the inside. Locks that require keys to be used on the inside can be dangerous. If the house were on fire, for example, it could be difficult to find the key in time to get out safely. Next, remember that no matter which lock you choose, the lock is only as strong as the door itself. The weakest part of a door is usually the area around the lock. Wooden doors are especially vulnerable. But, decorative door reinforcement plates are available for about $10, and can make this area more secure and burglar proof. Sliding patio doors need special protection against break-ins. These doors are usually in the rear (less visible) areas of the building, making the door an attractive entry point for thieves. Patio door locks are weak and older doors can even be “lifted” out of their track and right off of your house. Purchase a specially made patio bar (about $25) to secure the inside door from being slid open or pried off if the lock is broken. If your door is newer, you may be able to get away with a 2 x 4 piece of wood cut to fit in the track between the sliding door and the wall. Newer doors can’t be lifted out of their tracks and the wood blocks will keep the door from opening if the lock is pried off by a burglar. Finally, be a “Peeping Tom” by installing a peep hole in your front door. Purchase a wide angle (200 degree) peep hole to check who’s knocking before opening the door. Weak Windows
Windows are usually the weakest link in home security. While there are many security devices to choose from, it is important to always keep in mind that windows must be easily opened by occupants for emergency exit in the event of a fire. Therefore, the security device you choose should not lock you in the building, but only keep burglars out.
Sash locks come installed on most new windows. These can be improved by drilling a hole from front to back where the top and bottom windows overlap and installing a long nail in the hole. If a thief breaks the lock, the nail will stop the windows from sliding open. The nails can be easily removed if you need to get out quickly. Sash locks are sometimes replaced with key operated locks, but these can be very dangerous. Like with the double-keyed dead bolts, it can be difficult, if not impossible, to find these seldom-used keys in an emergency.
Security bars installed over windows can also prevent intruder access. But, these must be fitted with quick-release mechanisms to allow them to be opened if someone in the building needs to get out quickly. In 1995, several members of a Florida family were burned alive when they became trapped inside their home because of window security bars. Fire officials later described the home as a “burning cage” and cautioned area home owners to use these bars only when necessary and ONLY if they are fitted with quick-release mechanisms.Easy Give-Aways
Piles of mail or newspapers around your front door are a sure sign that no one is watching the house. To keep your home burglarproof, make arrangements for deliveries to be discontinued for the time you’re away or ask a neighbor to collect your mail and papers. Also, ask a neighbor to keep an eye on things and even check the house periodically. Also, many police departments maintain what they call a “vacant house list”.
If you plan to be away for more than a day or so, especially during the holidays, check with your local police about such a list. In my town, the police will drive by and take a walk around the house almost every day to make sure the home is secure. They’ll also ask who has keys to the house and what cars should be in the driveway. If anything unusual shows up, they’ll know to go looking for an explanation. Also, make sure your house numbers are visible. Police and other emergency personnel can waste precious minutes trying to find your house if the number is not easily spotted.Plan a Retreat
If all else fails in the attempt to make your home burglar proof, plan a spot in the house to retreat to in the event your house is broken into while you’re home. Keep an extra cordless or cell phone in the room so you can easily contact authorities should the unthinkable ever occur.
From Source Article: moneypit.com
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