Owning your first home is a huge milestone in your life. You feel accomplished for achieving such a milestone. But there are some hard parts too. The learning curve can be rather large. There are a lot of things that you can only learn ‘on the job’. And being a home owner can be a very involved job sometimes. Stuart and I have owned our first home for about 6 months now and we’ve learned a lot. Visit the Resource Library to get your FREE printable budget worksheet.
6 Things You Learn As A First Time Home Owner
There are a ton of parts to a house. And as a home owner you have to try to keep up with all of them. The problem is that until something goes wrong you may not even realize that you needed to keep track of it at all!
1. Frozen Pipes
When winter hits a lot of things can happen to a house. At our home, we have a well rather than city water. And, for some strange reason, our pipes run along the ground, uncovered. So the first night it got very cold, below zero, overnight we woke up to no running water. Being that we weren’t sure if our plumbing had any other potential issues other than a frozen pipe, we called a plumber.
Luckily he came right out and was very kind. He checked the system over and said everything looked alright and made some suggestions to unfreeze the pipes. We learned that we should keep our small space heater in the room with our pump and use a light bulb that gives off heat.
It ended up only costing us $50. And our pipes were completely thawed within a few hours. But we learned a few things.
- pipes freeze quickly – ours froze between uses 4:30am and 6:00am
- leaving a few faucets dripping overnight can keep pipes from freezing
- keeping a space heater on hand and running it when it’s supposed to be incredibly cold can keep you from having any issues
2. Blowing A Fuse
While I was cooking dinner we noticed that the thermostat wasn’t working and the heat hadn’t kicked on in a while. But our power was working fine.
We live south enough for people to panic when a snow storm is coming, so there were no space heaters at any stores. So we brought that space heater that was keeping our pipes thawed into our bedroom and moved both kids and the dog in with us for the night. Turns out we were able to keep our small bedroom and bathroom around 70 degrees with that little space heater and all of us in there.
To paint a better picture of our next 24 hours let me describe my family.
- 6 week old girl, Temperance
- 17 month old boy, Tobias
- myself, 5’8
- Stuart, 6’4
- 2 year old, 95lb yellow lab, Poseidon
We all lived in our master bedroom, the smallest room in the house, for about 24 hours while the rest of our house was around 35 degrees. And we waited for a heating technician to come look at our system.
Turns out a fuse and disconnector blew. So he replaced them for us and by the next morning, about 36 hours after it happened, our house was back up to 68 degrees.
Need a space heater? Grab the new version of what we have, Honeywell Fan Forced Heater
PS. the storm that caused all shovels, heaters, and a lot of water to be gone from all the store. Businesses to close for 2-3 days at least, and schools to be closed for over a week. The storm wouldn’t have evencanceledd school for one day where I grew up. So it was interesting to see the cultural differences there.
3. Being Prepared For Power Outages
We have lost power several times. About 5 or 6 in about as many months of living here. The longest it’s been out is about 5 hours. So nothing terrible. But what we’ve learned from that is to make sure not only to know where our flash lights are, but have them easily accessible.
With no power our house is dark. There are no street lights on the roads where we live. And even if there were we are about 400ft from the street and surrounded by trees so the light wouldn’t get back to us anyway. So you can’t see anything with no light. We keep night lights in several places usually so I can move around to take care of the kids overnight. But when the power goes out, I am prepared.
I keep a flash light by our bed. Another in my daughter’s room. And we have a small battery powered lantern in the closet with our tools too. So when it goes out it is easy to locate a light and be able to make sure everything is okay.
Another thing we learned in the past is to keep electronics plugged into a surge protector in case the power does go out. You don’t want to fry any of your electronics. Laptops, phones, TVs, and the like should be protected at all times.
4. Update Your Mail Box
When we moved in the mailbox only had 3 of the 4 numbers in our address on it. And it was falling over, barely able to be seen from the road. We actually missed it the first time we were driving out to the house.
So we had to replace it. We had to purchase a new box, a stake, and cement to keep it from falling over, and new numbers. Otherwise, the postal service wouldn’t deliver our mail.
It wasn’t a huge undertaking, but it did cost a bit of money if we wanted to do it right.
5. Change Your Address
I am familiar with this. Since 2012 I have moved 5 times and lived in 4 different states. 2 of those moves and 3 states were between January and July of 2017. Just a perk of military life.
But this time, the post office told me wrong.
You see, when we left the west coast we hadn’t closed on our house on the east coast yet. So we forwarded our mail to my in-laws house. Then we needed to move just our mail to the east coast.
I specifically said I needed my in-laws mail to stay at the old address but my family’s mail to be forwarded. They assured me because the original forward from the west coast was a household forward that I just needed to do that again.
Well, we got everyone’s mail. We got mail for us, my in-laws, leftover mail from several relatives who had passed away, and my husband’s siblings. Plus at least 3 other names that were already being delivered to our new address from 15+ years ago.
It took us 12 weeks, 5 visits, and 3 phone calls to 2 different post offices to get it figured out. I ended up having to forward my mother in law’s mail back to her. My father in law’s is more complicated because my husband is a Jr. So it will have to sort itself out.
The moral of the story is it became a huge mess and headache. In the future, I will do individual forwards for each of us if we need to use an address in the process of moving, despite what the post office says.
6. Know Who To Call
Our house was vacant for quite some time before we moved in. So the water hadn’t been run. Meaning it had a smell to it. It was completely usable and safe, just smelly.
That being said, we were told to run water and it would go away. After about 4 weeks or so my husband noticed some black water coming out of a faucet and we found out that we had an anode rod in our water heater that was needing to be removed. It turned out that pieces of it were breaking off causing the water to be black. And it was also causing the smell. We didn’t know who to call. A plumber, someone to look at the well, the water heater, or who knows who else.
Eventually we figured it out, about 4 phone calls later, and we had someone out to look at everything and he removed the rod for us. The smell and black water both went away after that.
But figuring out WHO to call can be very difficult. So make sure that you research the type of systems you have in the time leading up to move in day.
As a new home owner, there are a lot of things you will learn. And it is learning on the job. You just have to take things as they come and try to keep the financial burden to a minimum where you can.
Don’t forget to budget a little money each month to set aside for home repairs and maintenance. It will help a lot when something does come up. Read How To Start A Budget To Get Out Of Debt if you need to get a budget setup. You can get a FREE budget worksheet in the Resource Library
We have learned a lot about taking care of a house. We’ve also learned about what we will look for in our next home. Learned how we function in a house and what we’d like. For example, we have a lot of small appliances for the kitchen and very little countertop space near outlets. Next time we will pay close attention to that.
Take any of these lessons a new home owner can learn and try to know it ahead of time so you can learn your own lessons.
What did you learn as a new home owner?
PS Buying a new house? Check out How To Buy A House Before You See It