Owning a home of your own is the quintessential American dream. For first-time homeowners, the responsibilities of a new home can be overwhelming. Unlike a rental house or an apartment, upkeep and maintenance are no longer the landlord’s responsibility. Instead, it falls directly to you.
Know The Ins and Outs of Your Home
Get to know your home as soon as you can. Locate water shut-off valves for all plumbing fixtures. Many homes have a main shut-off as well. If you suspect broken water or sewer pipes, shutting off the main water valve can protect you from costly home repairs from the water damage. Learn to protect exposed pipes in the wintertime, too.
For electrical safety, you should understand how ground fault circuit interrupters work and how to reset them. Familiarize yourself with your home’s main electrical panel. Learn how to recognize a tripped breaker and what to do if a circuit is overloaded.
Get Involved in the Neighborhood
As a homeowner, you are a part of a neighborhood. All neighbors have the responsibility to look out for one another. Introduce yourself to your neighbors. Offer to look out for their home and property when they travel out of town. The favor will be returned to you.
Join a neighborhood group, even in the form of an electronic app like Nextdoor. This will enable you to watch out for more than just your neighbors’ property. Joining a neighborhood group will allow you to help watch out for your neighbor’s well-being, too. For example, recent anti racism efforts on Nextdoor are designed to let users report racist comments and posts.
Maintain Adequate Insurance
A homeowner’s insurance policy is not a guarantee that nothing wrong will happen to your home or property. It is, however, an essential part of responsible homeownership. Not only will adequate insurance provide you with a financial safety net, but it will also protect others around you from financial ruin in the event your home or property causes them harm or injury.
A homeowner’s policy protects you from costly repairs from natural disasters such as damage to your roof from a hail storm or wind damage. Be sure to understand what your insurance will cover. Some policies will not cover significant disasters such as flooding. A separate policy may be required.
Secure Dangers Around Your Home
Some things around your home may pose dangers to the neighborhood. Those dangers may come from an aggressive dog, other animals, or attractive nuisances like swimming pools and trampolines.
For example, in the case of an aggressive animal, it’s your responsibility to keep and maintain a secure fence. A fence with a locked gate is necessary if you have a swimming pool. In many cases, homeowner’s insurance companies consider trampolines or swimming pools as hazards unless they are kept behind locked gates.
Keep Up with Home Repairs
Home maintenance is another responsibility too important to overlook. Routine property maintenance includes upkeep that will keep your home attractive, secure, and comfortable. Regular yard maintenance, clearing trash and debris from the yard, clearing out rain gutters, and snow removal are just some of the normal activities you will need to perform to maintain your home.
It is essential to maintain plumbing, electrical, heating, and cooling systems. The exterior of your house requires regular maintenance, too. Maintenance can be as simple as changing the filters in your HVAC system once each month.
Keep a Reserve Fund
As soon as you close on your new home, begin a savings account to cover the unexpected costs that can come out of nowhere. Even if you keep up with your homeowner’s insurance premiums, you will still need a cash reserve to cover the cost of the deductible. Your reserve fund can help cover other costly repairs not covered by insurance.
Many home projects require a high level of expertise. If you decide to try those repairs on your own, it is a good idea to have the money set aside to hire a professional in the event doing it yourself does not work out.