Congratulations on your new home! Or, perhaps, soon to be new home. Odds are you’ve just made the largest purchase of your life and you’re reeling from everything you’ve got to do. Homeownership truly is a big step. For many, it’s the life stage that means roots have been planted and you’re looking to start becoming a part of your neighborhood or community.
In addition to all of the fun, exciting aspects of buying a home comes the responsibility of maintaining and protecting your new property. Hopefully before you signed on the dotted line the house was inspected or perhaps is going to be inspected soon. Depending on the size of your home, the inspection will cost you between $200 and $400 and their report will reveal any code violations, potential hazards, and additional costs you may not have known existed. So what can you do to make your new house a home?
Love Its Age, But Don’t Ignore the Dangers
Many older homes have a character and charm that you just can’t seem to reproduce in new builds. But what could be hiding behind the wainscoting and oak floors? Age of a home can mean outdated hardware and structural components, like your plumbing, electrical, roofing, and appliances. To a new homebuyer, that may not seem like a deal breaker. Unfortunately, replacing all of the electrical in your new home, for example, can cost upwards of $5,000, which could have been a large chunk of your renovation budget.
What’s even more dangerous is noticing these problems and not addressing them. Let’s take the electrical example again. In the U.S. alone, faulty electrical has caused over 53,000 house fires on average per year. It’s a sad consequence of not keeping homes updated and safe. Your roof is another example. When your shingles begin deteriorating after years of sun and weather exposure, water can begin infiltrating your roof deck. That soaked wood could eventually lead to bigger problems like rot and mold that slowly seep into your home. But again, replacing the roof can cost between $1,500 and $10,000.
When you move into your new home, make a complete list of what needs to be done to the house. Then, begin prioritizing what needs should come first and use that list as a guide to how to spend your time and money to get everything done.
Investigate Possible Natural Disasters
What people don’t often think about is what threats Mother Nature poses to their homes. When hunting for or buying your new house, do your research on what kind of natural disasters have or could happen. With that knowledge, you can then start to evaluate how your home would do in a worse-case-scenario situation.
An example that often gets brought up is flooding. Pretend that your hometown gets a week of torrential rain. Rivers rise, creeks overflow, and suddenly you’re panicking, just waiting for your basement to flood. Is there anything you could have done beforehand to protect your home?
In this illustration, the short answer here is yes. By evaluating your home’s landscaping and your yard’s slope, you can get an idea of where all of that extra water would run. Technically, houses should be plotted to have run-off head downhill, but we have seen houses in the past where they are just situated poorly. When that happens, homeowners are dealing with flooding and water damage.
Morale of this story: Do your homework and be proactive. If you can limit the damage of bad weather or natural disasters—even if it’s just cutting down dead tree limbs—it could save you a lot of money in the long run.
Update & Bundle Your Insurance
Finally, if you’re purchasing a new home, use this opportunity to review your insurance needs. Before sitting down with your agent, try to have as many items checked off your honey-do list as possible. The more renovations and updates you put into your house that lower your risk of making a claim will play into a lower cost for your coverage. In addition, take stock of the items in your house that are precious to you—like a family heirloom or work of art—and be sure to discuss it with your agent. Most policies do not cover higher ticket items like these and you may need to add an additional policy for full coverage. In terms of savings, by bundling some of your other policies like your auto insurance with your homeowners, you can expect to save between 14% and 17%. Combining these policies together is a way your insurance company can give you a discount to say thanks for doing business with them.
If you’re a new homebuyer and you’re not sure where to start with your insurance, let the experts at Doyle & Ogden help you find the perfect policy. We’ll walk beside you and help you weigh your options to figure out which policy will offer you better coverage at the best price. Call us at 616-949-9000 or request a quote online today!