6 things everyone should have once they buy a house
Buying your first home is a major freaking achievement, but despite all of the personal pride and excitement (and mental high-fiving) that comes with new homeownership, it can be pretty daunting as well. Who are you going to call if a pipe bursts? Think that grass is just going to mow itself? Is that a crazed serial killer lurking in the overgrown hedges, and…wait, what’s that noise? See, these are the things you didn’t think about when you were living in an apartment. Still, owning a home can be incredibly rewarding, once you know how to manage it all. Here, are a few must-haves for your first house.
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By Jennifer Benjamin
A cover-your-butt plan
Here’s the thing: You’d much rather spend your energy choosing paint colors and deciding between textured throw rugs, than worrying about whether or not your house will get hit by a natural disaster. But this one isn’t optional--you’ll need to get homeowners insurance before you even close escrow. Yes, chances are slim that your house will get damaged by fire, flood, wind or theft, but at least you’ll know you’re covered should you need to rebuild, replace or relocate. You’ll shell out between $300 to $1,000 each year, but there are tricks to cutting down costs, like packaging your home insurance with the company that insures your car.
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A stay-safe strategy
Is that just the house creaking or is someone creeping down the hall? Could a regular-sized human crawl through that window and rob you blind? These are the things you don’t worry about as much when your house is safe and secure. If you can afford it, invest in a home security system, one that contacts the police and the fire department if the alarm gets tripped or the smoke detectors go off. The sign on your lawn alone will be enough to deter dirty thieves and you really can’t put a price tag on peace of mind. At the very least, you’ll want to install sturdy deadbolts in all of your doors, get latches for the windows, and maybe even get a dog, preferably a big, barking, ferocious-looking breed (sorry, a teacup poodle isn’t scaring anyone).
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Mr. Fix It on speed-dial
Okay, so maybe you’re no stranger to tools, the kind of person who could totally renovate the bathroom yourself. Still, just in case you, oh, accidentally hit a pipe with that sledgehammer you’re expertly wielding, you’ll want to be able to call someone who can fix your mess. You want someone you can rely on, but contractors are notorious for falling off the grid, so get recommendations from friends. Handymen aren’t just helpful in-case-of-emergency though. If you want to paint a room, put up crown molding, restore some fencing or just have some light fixtures installed, it’s great to work with a Jack of all trades.
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Mows and hoes
Up until now, you may not have done much gardening, aside from watering your houseplants and trimming the artichokes you got at the farmer’s market. Well, now you have a whole lawn to mow (you don’t want it to look like an overgrown marshland, do you?). And what about that herb garden you’ve always wanted? Stop by your local nursery with pictures of your front and back yard and ask what they recommend for keeping your grass and plants healthy and hydrated. If you have dry, brown patches, you may want to consider reseeding and fertilizing. You’ll also want some kind of sprinkler system, whether it’s in-ground or a portable unit you hook up to your hose. And, of course, no suburban picture is complete without a lawn mower.
An 'oh shoot' bag
Not to get all doom-and-gloomy on you, but every home needs to have a disaster kit, even if it’s just for a power outage. Stock yours with a three-day supply of water (a gallon per day, per person) and non-perishable food, a first aid kit, flashlight and batteries, a radio, warm jackets and blankets.
A good neighbor
Whether you’re going out of town and need someone to pick up the mail, are low on milk for your morning coffee or just like having a friendly face nearby, it’s comforting to know your neighbors are looking out for you. Have their phone number to call in case of emergency, and leave them with a spare house key for those times you lock yourself out. Remember, you’re house-dwellers now—there’s no super (or doorman) to come bail you out.