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Best Advice Before Moving Into a New House

Congratulations are in order! You just purchased a new home, you have keys in hand, and you are ready to schedule your move-in date…great, but not so fast! Yes, we know you are anticipating the big day, but taking a few moments to familiarize yourself with your new digs can save you big money and a lot of headaches in the future. Here is a helpful list of 9 things everyone should do before moving into a new house.

1. Know Where the Main Water Shutoff Valve is

Water from a burst or broken plumbing pipe can spew dozens of gallons into your home’s interior in a matter of minutes, soaking everything in sight — including drywall, flooring, and valuables. In fact, water damage is one of the most common of all household insurance claims.

Its important to know how to turn off your main water valve if you have a future plumbing emergency, if a hurricane or tornado is headed your way, or if you’re going out of town. The shutoff valve will be located where a water main enters your house. (It could inside or outside) To test the valve, turn the knob until it’s off. Then turn on any faucet in the house; no water should come out.

Remember, a timely reaction can stave off a major bummer. Once you located and tested the main water valve, make sure everyone knows where it is and how to close it. Here’s one more tip…a little penetrating oil on the valve stem makes sure it’ll work when you need it to.

2. Check for Plumbing Leaks

Although your home inspector should do this for you before closing, it never hurts to double-check.  Check your kitchen, bathrooms, and laundry areas for dripping faucets and running toilets. Check your water heater for signs of a leak as well.

Here’s a neat trick: Watch your water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour window in which no water is being used in your house. If the reading is different, you have a leak.

3. Introduce Yourself to Your Circuit Breaker Box

It’s a good idea to figure out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly. Although this is an easy project it will take two people: One to stand in the room where the power is supposed to go off, the other to trip the fuses and yell, “Did that work? How about now?”

4. Change the Locks

Yes, you have the keys in hand, but you really don’t know who else has keys to your home, so our advice is to change the locks. This ensures you’re the only person who has access. You can install new deadbolts yourself for as little as $10 per lock, or call a locksmith — if you supply the new locks, they typically charge about $20 to $30 per lock for labor.

5. Clean Carpets, Tile Flooring, & Cabinets

It may seem like an obvious suggestion, but there is no better time to clean your flooring than before you move your furniture in. Yes, perhaps the previous owners were polite enough to vacuum, but deep cleaning floors will ensure that your new home life will be off to a fresh start. This is also key if you or someone in your family suffers from pet allergies. If this is the case, we suggest you pay a professional carpet cleaning service. If allergies are not a concern, another (less expensive) option is to rent a steam cleaner for about $30 per day and do the work yourself. You can even save some money by borrowing a steam cleaner from a friend.

Another no-brainer before you move in your dishes and bathroom supplies is to clean out your new cabinets and pantry. Make sure to wipe inside and out, preferably with a non-toxic cleaner, and replace contact paper if necessary. This is a great opportunity to check for signs of rodent activity (mouse poop). Which leads to our next tip…

6. Show Critters the Door

That includes mice, rats, bats, termites, roaches, and any other uninvited guests. There are any number of DIY ways to get rid of pests, but if you need to bring out the big guns, an initial visit from a pest removal service will run you $100 to $300, followed by monthly or quarterly visits at about $50 each time.

7. HVAC Checkup for Heating and Air Conditioning

No matter what the season, it is wise to keep your AC and heating working efficiently. Don’t wait for surprises to happen, hire a professional and get your systems checked out (and change your furnace filters too!)  While you are at it, make sure you have a home warranty in place for when issues do arise!

8. The Paint and Flooring Debate

Couple painting wall

OK, you just went through the arduous task of buying a home: coming up with a down payment, jumping through hoops for the lender, and perhaps even walking the tightrope between selling your current home as you buy another. The temptation to throw caution to the wind and move into your new abode with blinders on is very tempting indeed. The question comes up…how do we feel about the interior paint? Can we live with this carpet? Do we really want to spend MORE money to make these changes RIGHT NOW? Well, if you think about it another way…as soon as the moving truck arrives your home will be full of furniture, fixtures, and precious personal accessories. Don’t you agree, it would be SO MUCH EASIER to paint or install flooring in a home that is empty? Think of it as a clean slate…opt for neutral colors, and implement your personal pieces & accessories for color accents. This will help in the long term if tastes and styles change.

9. One More Tip?

Do yourself a favor and hire a handyman to hang shelves, pictures, and repair all the little nuisance items so you can concentrate on the other things like unpacking, decorating, work, and family.  Ask you neighbors for a referral, and while you are getting to know them you can find out who the best gardener in town is! Moving can be stressful and time consuming. Be smart, continue to breath deeply and remember this is supposed to be a new exciting chapter in your life!

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