Advice for First-Time Homeowners

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Congratulations! You’ve taken the important step of getting on the property ladder and have bought your first home. However, home ownership can be a little intimidating at first, so it’s worth making sure you’re prepared and understand exactly what to expect. Here are a few things you might want to consider whether you’re yet to move in or have already settled into your new home.

Understand your new home’s energy status

By law, every home that is sold (or even rented) needs to have an up-to-date EPC, or Energy Performance Certificate. A domestic EPC will be a comprehensive report that tells you everything you need to know about your home’s unique energy usage. Study your EPC closely because it will give you valuable insight into how your property was built, what heating and cooling systems are being used, as well as any ventilation or insulation in place. This helps you understand how much you’ll pay in the years ahead but also gives you the opportunity to make efficiencies – good for the environment and your bottom line!

Set up a comprehensive home maintenance schedule

Before you’ve gotten to know your new home properly, you may be taken by surprise when unexpected repair costs come up. To get a better handle on your maintenance budget, take the time to outline a yearly maintenance plan that takes into account any upkeep costs that, if left unattended, would turn into bigger expenses down the road. Survey your entire property and divide tasks into seasons: for spring, consider scheduling tasks like pruning trees, cleaning and sanding decks or outdoor furniture or spring cleaning and laundering things like curtains. For winter, include activities like examining the roof for leaks, clearing the gutters or getting the boiler serviced.

Sort out property insurance

Most mortgage providers require you to have quite comprehensive homeowners insurance, but you can always go above the bare minimum. Any change in residence is an opportunity to reconsider your insurance needs. Get life insurance if you don’t have it already, for yourself and for any other person whose income directly pays that mortgage. This person is typically named as a beneficiary of the title deed should you pass away unexpectedly. You might like to carefully consider things like disability-income insurance, and think about your utility costs if you primarily work from home and want to write off some expenses (like broadband or electricity) on your tax return.

Get a handle on your utilities

You’ll need to set up utilities for your new home in your name, including electric, water and sewage, gas, phone and broadband. Your local council can likely help with water, but you might like to phone around to get a bargain for things like internet and phone, in addition to deciding on whether any hardware needs to be installed or updated. Double check all your utility companies have your correct address details on record, and schedule in a time yearly to check whether you are really getting the lowest rates possible.

Know the difference between repairs and improvements

If you’re like most people, you probably want to put your own personal touch on your new home and get to work with decorating and revamping. However, moving home can be expensive, and it’s often a tempting trap to spend too much on decor and other improvements early on. Instead, look at your home’s strengths and weaknesses with an unbiased eye, and see what is genuinely necessary to repair, and what is an optional improvement that doesn’t necessarily add value to the home. Identify tasks in their order of priority and schedule times to do them so that you can spread out the cost. Doing too much all at once can be a blow to any budget.

Get to know properly qualified contractors

While a good handyman is great for smaller odd jobs, opt for qualified and trustworthy contractors for bigger and more expensive work on your new home. It might be worth it to splash out on a professional deep cleaning service once before you move in, or get expert painting done, since a clean, freshly painted home can make a massive impact for a relatively small investment. If you’re very confident in your own skills, then by all means DIY it, but you may find that the professionals ultimately save you time and money, especially where plumbing and electrical are concerned.

There’s a lot to think about when you’re the proud new owner your first home, but a little foresight and planning can make sure that you’re getting the best from your property – without spending too much.

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