After you've signed the last piece of paperwork, and the keys are in your hands, you are officially a homeowner. CONGRATULATIONS!! It is really something to take-in, experience, and remember, since it is such an important milestone in your life. Fast forward a week later, the boxes have been unpacked (mostly), and you're thinking what's next? There a few crucial things you'll want to do within the first month of home-ownership that I've outlined below to get you on the right track.
1. Change your locks
You have no idea how many sets of keys are out there in the world of your current locks, therefore, to ensure your safety, I recommend to change all locks and re-program your garage door openers. Not to say your previous owners/renters would ever commit a crime to your home, but the keys could get lost into the wrong hands. Why risk it? The cost to change the locks completely outweighs the benefit of security.
2. Play Inspector Gadget
Don't wait until the lights go out before familiarizing yourself with your circuit breakers, and this goes with any areas of your home that operate the lights, water, electric, air/heat or are precautionary measures (re: fire extinguisher). It is important to know that you have all of the following, know where they are located, how they operate and ensure that they are effectively working:
- Smoke and carbon monoxide detectors
- A fire extinguisher on each floor
- The main circuit breaker
- The main water shut-off valve, plus all exterior water supply shut-offs
- The gas shut-off valves (localized, near the stove or dryer; and also the main valve), if your home is plumbed for natural gas
3. Takeover utilities
Generally, when you buy a new home, the inspection period will confirm that all utilities are up and running. However, you'll want to call all public works (electric, gas, water, garbage) and ensure they have your name on the property's bill, and also confirm when the monthly payments will be due so you can plan ahead financially.
4. Introduce yourself to neighbors
One of the biggest pros to becoming a homeowner is the sense of community that is built from those that live around you. It is important to introduce yourself to your neighbors not only to make new friends and have someone to borrow that cup of sugar from, but if you're out of town, they'll have your back on checking for packages or suspicious activity. They will also likely know the ins and outs of the rest of the area and recommendations for service providers. You can just drop in with a friendly hello, or go all out and host a backyard welcome bbq.