Owning a home is a dream for many people across the country. Despite all of the exciting opportunities that come with homeownership, it has its own unique set of challenges. Whether you’re just starting to look at new houses or have already finished the long process of moving, every new homeowner needs to know what’s in store for them. Here are a few ways you can tackle all of the upcoming challenges head-on.
1. Know Your Mortgage Details
While renters have to deal with monthly payments to live in their homes, homeowners have to handle a mortgage until the loan is completely paid off. Most homeowners, 65%, in fact, have a mortgage. But not all homeowners know their mortgage details or the best way to tackle that mortgage.
Understanding your mortgage as a new homeowner starts with figuring out your down payment. Ideally, homeowners can hit 20% with their down payment. However, that is not possible with every mortgage. That means most homeowners end up with a PMI, or “private mortgage insurance.” It’s important to pay down the PMI as quickly as you can to keep your mortgage manageable.
Whatever your down payment ends up being, you then need to know what type of mortgage you have. Most people end up with a 30-year fixed-rate loan. In this type of loan, the interest rate never changes. An alternative is a 15-year fixed-rate loan. These have higher interest rates but offer an opportunity to pay down the mortgage more quickly.
2. Check On Your Roof
The roof of your home protects everything inside from the force of Mother Nature. With such a taxing job, the roof on a home tends to weather a lot of damage. Before you settle into your home, be sure to contact a local roofing contractor to check your house for roof damage. After they inspect it, they can start on any necessary roof repair.
Even if your roof is in perfect condition when you move in, however, you will eventually need roof repair or replacement. Every homeowner suffers this fate. You can prepare beforehand by estimating the costs of roof repair and budgeting accordingly.
When it’s time to fix or replace your roof, there are some important tips to keep in mind. First, don’t be afraid to comparison shop. There are lots of roof repair places. You shouldn’t feel obligated or pressured to go with the first one you find. Second, you may not need to completely replace your roof if you can get away with simply placing a new layer over the old one. This could save you thousands.
3. Inspect the Basement
If your home has a basement, it will require care too. The basement can be just as much of a danger spot as the roof. As this area is prone to leaks and water damage, you may need to invest in basement waterproofing to keep your basement nice and dry.
If you are a homeowner with a basement, it doesn’t hurt to stay vigilant. Don’t overlook a musty smell that just doesn’t seem right. If the smell persists, you could have a problem. You’ll need to identify leaks and other sources of dampness in your basement before you make improvements or do basement waterproofing.
While homeowners can try to tackle this themselves, it always helps to consult with a basement waterproofing expert. If something isn’t right but you can’t seem to find the problem, find someone knowledgeable in basement waterproofing. Your local municipality may also be able to provide information on fluctuations to the water table that could be affecting your basement.
4. Update the Bathrooms
Your bathroom should be a relaxing oasis when you want to escape the stresses of the day. As such, you should make any necessary updates to the bathrooms in your home as soon as possible. If your master bathroom only has a glass shower but you want to relax in a bubble bath, update the space with a tub.
Homeowners don’t need to stop at the big, obvious improvements, though. Even things as simple as the faucets can add a lot of charm to a bathroom. The types of faucets, knobs and even light fixtures you use can have a huge impact. These small touches add style and personality.
Lights and wall colors help set the mood. If your bathroom lights are old and yellow, consider updating them. New light fixtures can make your bathroom feel brighter and more welcoming. Or use lights to create a relaxing ambiance around your glass shower or tub. Get some paint while you’re at it. A splash of color can liven up a bathroom or make it feel luxurious and lush. Homeowners should look out for paints that can handle the amount of dampness in the bathroom.
Too many homeowners overlook the toilet. Sure, it’s there to serve a purpose, but that doesn’t mean it can’t be comfortable. If the toilets are old, consider changing them or at least the seats. Even updating just your toilet seat can make the bathroom more pleasant. If you do go for new toilets, look into high-efficiency and low-flow toilets that can save money and also look clean and modern.
One last bathroom luxury: A vanity. If you don’t have large countertops, adding a vanity can be stylish and functional. A vanity offers a place to indulge in your bathroom, adding that much more character as well. Replacing an existing vanity is another option to freshen up a bathroom.
5. Get To Know Your Neighbors
Once you’re settled in, go meet the neighbors. This sounds like a trivial aside, but it can make your life as a homeowner more pleasant in the long run. Not only will you get to know the people you live with, but you can also find tips from other homeowners. Perhaps someone else recently needed roof repair and can recommend a local roofing contractor. Maybe someone else had to fix a leak and knows the most cost-effective companies in the area for basement waterproofing. Don’t underestimate the power of simply getting to know your neighbors.
Beyond just being helpful sources of information, neighbors will be with you for many years, potentially. So getting to know them can help you feel fully settled in your new home. Plus, who wants to miss out on the neighborhood cookout?
6. Choose A Decorating Style For Each Room
This may sound fussy, but it’s worth it in the long run. Really moving and settling into new houses is about more than just updating the furniture and appliances. It’s about making this home your own. That means it needs to feel personal.
Finding a style or theme for each room of the home can help new houses go from a house to a true home. Place your personality into each room with art, motifs, paint and other touches. Homeowners don’t need to be artists or interior designers, either. Here are some tips on how every homeowner can decorate each room of their new home:
- Bedrooms: Your bed is hugely important. It’s not just the key to feeling rested, it’s also a place where you’re likely to spend a lot of time. So make sure your bed suits your needs. Beyond the bed, don’t be afraid of adding some color to your bedroom. Here’s some sneaky advice: Light colors are good for early risers, while dark colors tend to suit night owls better.
- Children’s bedrooms: It’s not just your own bedroom that you need to think about. If you have children, think about themes you could use to decorate their bedrooms. With young children, or even babies, you could explore a fun theme like animals, space or cartoons. With older children, you may want to seek their input (within reason) to help them have a bedroom that truly feels like “their” space.
- Kitchens: Decorating a kitchen depends on how you intend to use the kitchen. If you love cooking and food, you may already have a lot of what you need to personalize your kitchen. Perhaps you don’t need to pack away your cooking equipment every time but could leave it on display instead. If you aren’t much of a cook, you can still spruce up the kitchen with towels, art, and lighting. A full remodel may be a bit too pricey for a new homeowner, but it is something to consider down the line.
- Dining Rooms: While we’re on the topic of food, don’t overlook where you eat as well as where you cook. The right kitchen table and chairs can make a dining room warm and inviting. You might also want a centerpiece for the table. For a little extra, look into adding a chandelier for stylish lighting.
- Living Rooms: This is the space where you and your family will likely spend a lot of time so it’s important it feels warm and inviting. This all-purpose room is served well by comfortable seating. Things like couches should converge around a focal point in the room, a place that draws the eye. This could be a table between the couches or a piece of artwork.
- Foyers: An easy place to overlook is the foyer. But this is the first thing guests to your home see. Show off with personal touches like artwork. At the same time, you want guests to get a cozy, inviting feel from your foyer. This helps them (and you) instantly feel at home when you enter the house. Flooring, lighting, and decorations can set the tone for your whole house.
7. Customize The Flooring
Whether you like hardwoods or carpets, you should have the flooring type that makes you feel at home. Contact local hardwood suppliers to get quotes for installing the hardwood floors you love or stop by the home improvement store to look at decorative rugs. The decision between hardwood and carpet is hugely personal for each homeowner. The best option for you depends on your aesthetic as well as your needs. Here are a few factors to consider if you’re debating different types of flooring:
Hardwood: Hardwood is much more expensive than carpet, but also much easier to clean and keep clean. Check with local hardwood suppliers to find the exact costs. It also tends to last longer than carpet. Some people don’t like the feel of hardwood since it is, well, hard. However, hardwood is more sustainable and eco-friendly since it is a natural product. Hardwood will be noisier than carpet. Also, if you really hate the cold, a colder hardwood floor may prove uncomfortable.
Carpet: While carpet is not as environmentally-friendly as hardwood, it is a lot easier on the wallet. Carpet is also quieter since it is soft and provides more warmth. Some people favor the classic look of hardwood, but carpet is great because it offers so many options. If you go with carpet, you’ll have a slew of patterns and colors to choose from. However, you’ll also have a harder time cleaning, since it can be hard to see dirt among a flashy pattern.
8. Utilize Your Outdoor Space
It’s easy to get wrapped up in all the work there is to do inside new houses, but don’t forget the outside. The outside of your home can be just as welcoming and well-loved a place as any of your other spaces.
Gardens are great for adding love and warmth to your home. They certainly take maintenance, but that maintenance is rewarded with a beautiful corner of nature all your own. Plus, a garden is a truly versatile space. You can plant flowers simply for their beauty or try to grow things your family will actually eat. A fruit and vegetable garden is often easy and in some cases self-sustaining year after year. And it’s not difficult for homeowners to get started. Research plants that are in season, get some dirt and start digging. Some plants take very specialized care, but many you can try with little fear of failure.
If you have a deck or patio area, invest in some appropriate furniture so guests can enjoy it. A nice patio set can instantly transform your backyard into a usable and welcoming space. If you really want to take a deck or patio to the next level, look into a fire pit. Many are safe for use on decks. They can help make an outdoor space usable for more, or all, of the year.
Finally, every homeowner should consider a fence. No matter how much you love your neighbors, a little privacy doesn’t hurt. A fence can help you feel at home even outside. Your neighbors will likely appreciate the gesture as well. Choose a fence that suits the look of your home to add a splash of character. A fence does not need to be a drab, utilitarian addition to your house. Think of a fence as the background of your whole backyard. Choose one that not only adds privacy but also truly rounds out the look of your home from the outside.