The day you finally get the keys to your new home is an exciting time. Whether you bought an old house or one that was newly constructed, there are many benefits to being a homeowner. There is also plenty to learn as you adjust to your new home. To make things easier for you, here is a list of tips for a new homeowner and some important things you should know.
Get a Home Inspection
Before you purchase a home, have it inspected by a professional. A home inspection gives you an overview of the property’s condition. The assessment will identify problems and safety concerns so you’ll know about any needed repairs and replacements. Plan on scheduling regular maintenance inspections to keep your home in the best shape and to stay ahead of small problems before they become significant.
Tips for a New Homeowner: Keep Your Documents Safe
Keep your important documents together in one place so they are easy to find when you need them. This includes things like deeds, receipts for contractors you have hired, copies of utility bills, home warranties, and insurance policies. It’s helpful to know exactly where paperwork is when you need to refer back to a specific document.
Know Your Neighbors
When you are a homeowner, it’s good to get to know your neighbors. Invite the people in your neighborhood over for a cookout or introduce yourself when you see them outside. Good neighbors watch out for one another and keep an eye on your property when you’re away. Get the contact information of neighbors, property managers, and utility companies in case you need assistance or have questions about your new neighborhood.
Start with Small Projects
An important tip for new homeowners is to start small when tackling projects in your new home. Choose simple upgrades that you can easily handle yourself. This will prevent you from getting frustrated and burned out the first time you attempt to improve your property.
Get a Toolbox and Basic Tools
A set of tools comes in handy when you need to complete minor home repairs. Purchase a few basic tools and a toolbox for storage. For starters, you’ll want a hammer, pliers, adjustable wrench, screwdriver, drill, and tape measure.
Learning to Budget is One of the Best Tips for a New Homeowner
Make a monthly budget. Include your mortgage payment and any other costs related to homeownership, such as utility bills and maintenance expenses. Keep track of what you spend on groceries, medical bills, and car payments. Set money aside for emergencies. This will help prepare you for unexpected expenses in the months and years ahead.
Your home is a major investment. These tips will help you navigate the world of homeownership and you’ll be more prepared for the responsibilities you’ll face.
An open floor plan is a popular selling point for homes. Some homeowners even go far so as to take out walls before putting their house on the market. If you’re shopping for a new home or thinking of renovating your current one, here are the pros and cons of this type of layout.
Downsides of an Open Floor Plan
An open floor plan with fewer rooms and walls leaves fewer places to store your belongings. When the kids leave toys in the living room, they will be visible from the kitchen. Likewise, if there are dirty dishes on the kitchen counter, they will be noticeable from the dining area.
Less Privacy in an Open Floor Plan Home
More and more people are working from home and the lack of walls also means a lack of privacy. If you need peace and quiet to focus and feel productive, this type of home design may not be right for you. There are fewer barriers to block sound and more opportunities for distraction.
No Sound Buffering
If you’re accustomed to having walls, you might not realize the amount of sound buffering they offer. In a home with open areas, sound travels easily, especially if the house also has high ceilings. Curtain, rugs, plush furnishings, and throw pillows will help to dampen sound, but you’ll notice it is noisier in a home with fewer divisions between rooms.
Enjoy the Advantages of an Open Floor Plan
Better for Entertaining
A home with an open floor plan offers more space for entertaining guests. This type of design is more conducive to gathering with friends and family. When there aren’t walls dividing the living areas, you’ll find it’s easier to key an eye on guests and make sure everyone is having a good time.
Easier to Watch the Kids
Open living areas make it easier to socialize with friends and family and they offer better visibility for keeping an eye on children. You can prepare dinner in the kitchen and still have a clear line of sight to where the kids are playing in the dining room.
Living Spaces Feel Larger
The lack of walls makes even minimal square footage seem larger. Especially when combined with high ceilings, an open floor plan helps a home feel more spacious.
More Natural Light
Open spaces are brighter. Without walls in the main living areas, there’s nothing to block the light from either end of the house. During the day, sunlight through windows and skylights is usually enough to illuminate the entire area.
With the weather warming up, you and your family will be spending more time outside. Make your patio a comfortable place to hang out and relax. Here are some tips to help you upgrade your outdoor living spaces.
Upgrade Outdoor Living Spaces with Furniture
If the backyard deck is bare, adding furniture is an easy improvement. You’ll find a wide range of seating options in a variety of materials for your outdoor spaces. Wrought-iron tables and chairs are attractive and sturdy. Because they are heavy, strong winds won’t affect them. Wrought iron has the downside of being vulnerable to rust if not well-maintained. When shopping for patio furniture, there are also synthetic wicker, wooden, plastic, and aluminum options. Choose a style that is comfortable and complements your outdoor decor.
Incorporate the Elements into Your Outdoor Spaces
A water fountain, fire pit, or outdoor fireplace are all great features for your patio. The sound of falling water is calming and fires are relaxing and inviting. The addition of a fire pit adds warmth to your outdoor space and makes the area feel welcoming any time of year.
Create Shade for Your Backyard Deck
If your deck, porch, or patio gets several hours of sunlight, the area can become uncomfortably warm. Provide shady areas for your guests to relax. Options for shade include structures like a gazebo, large trellis, or pergola. You might also install a retractable awning, shade sail, or a patio umbrella. Planting fast-growing trees on one side of the deck is another way to block some of the sunlight from the area.
Upgrade a Deck With a Privacy Fence
Create an element of privacy for your outdoor living space. Your patio can feel like a private oasis when you add walls, shrubs, or curtains. You can install a rock wall around the patio to create a hidden courtyard. Other options include lattice with vining plants, up-cycling old shutters to create a barrier, and hanging canvas curtains to provide privacy and shade.
Add Color to Upgrade Your Outdoor Living Spaces
Personalize your porch or patio with texture and color. Use an outdoor rug to designate a sitting area. Install planter boxes to grow brightly colored flowers or herbs for the kitchen. Grow ivy on the pergola. Add throw pillows to your patio furniture for color and comfort.
Install Outdoor Lighting
Enjoy your patio even after sunset when you add lighting. The types of lights you choose will depend on your aesthetic. String lights are popular to make an area more festive. If you enjoy dining outdoors, candles set a relaxing mood. You can install recessed lighting into the deck stairs and deck-post lighting to illuminate the perimeter of the backyard deck. Solar-powered stake lights are ideal for lighting the walkway to the front porch or pool. Citronella-burning torches provide light for the backyard and help to keep mosquitoes away.
With our busy lives, it’s helpful to have a place to relax and unwind. These simple upgrades to your patio will allow you to create a warm and inviting outdoor space.
The spring and summer months are not the only times of year to care for your yard. It’s easy to maintain your landscaping in fall and keep your yard looking great even after the green foliage of summer is gone.
Prepare Your Fall Garden
When preparing your home for fall, consider adding a fall garden space. Between late summer and early fall, remove annual flowers planted during the summer and pull out weeds and other unwanted plants.
Once you have tidied up your garden space, you can begin planting for fall. Choose flowers, shrubs, and trees that will perform through the season. Mums, marigolds, and flowering kale are great fall choices.
Care for Your Lawn When Landscaping in Fall
During the fall season, care for your lawn to protect it from the cooler weather and get it ready for next summer. Continue mowing the grass as needed until the first frost. You may notice your grass growing slower than in the summer months, but you can still mow and water it.
Also, apply fertilizer in the fall to keep your lawn healthy. The fertilizer will help your grass grow stronger roots before winter. Fall is also the perfect time to aerate and seed bare patches in your lawn.
Plan a Spring Garden
Fall is a great time of year to plan out your spring garden. Choose flowers and plants you want to see bloom in the spring and add them to your garden now. Bulbs should be planted in the fall so they’re ready to bloom when the weather warms. Tulips and daffodils are popular choices for spring gardens.
Fall is also a good time to plant perennials. The soil is still warm from the summer, providing the right environment for plants to grow strong roots before the harsh, cold months ahead.
Make a Clean-Up Plan
The bright hues of autumn leaves won’t last on the trees for long. Soon the fallen leaves will litter the yard. Caring for the landscape in fall means to plan for leaf pickup. If you have a mulching mower, mulch your leaves as you mow the lawn. The nutrients in mulched leaves will find their way back into the soil.
You can also rake and compost leaves to add to the soil next year. If your town or HOA requires leaf clean-up, rake and gather the leaves for scheduled town leaf collections.
A deck is an outdoor living space that is often elevated off the ground, varying in height from a few inches to many feet or levels. Originally constructed of wood, modern decks might be made of any of these popular decking materials. Let’s look at the pros and cons of some of those materials.
Redwood Decking Materials
Redwood has been a traditional choice for decking material for many years. The wood is durable and attractive and the natural color is pleasant. Redwood is fire and insect-resistant.
Redwood can be more brittle than softwoods, so pre-drilled holes are usually necessary to prevent splitting. The biggest disadvantage is the cost. Compared with softwoods or composites, redwood can be up to twice the price per foot.
Another popular choice for natural wood decking is cedar. Cedar is strong and has a distinct scent that many people find appealing. Another advantage of cedar is that it is naturally resistant to rot, decay, and insects.
While not quite as brittle as redwood, cedar can be just as expensive. If not regularly sealed, the attractive cedar color will fade to gray.
Pressure-treated wood is the most common material used in outdoor construction. This type of wood repels moisture and is resistant to mold and insects. It is inexpensive and easy to install.
Pressure-treated wood needs to be resealed every year or so to prolong its lifespan. If regular maintenance isn’t for you, choose another option.
Vinyl Decking Materials
Synthetic materials like vinyl have become a common choice in recent years. Low maintenance and ease of installation make this a popular material for HOAs and subdivisions looking for a uniform appearance. Color is infused into the material, eliminating the need to paint. With proper maintenance, you can expect it to last 20 to 30 years.
Vinyl is difficult to paint and can’t be stained, so changing colors is not an option. While some vinyl can mimic wood, it lacks the natural beauty of quality wooden decking.
Another synthetic material commonly used for decks is composite. Composite is made of wood particles mixed with plastic and pressed into shape. Composite decking is heavier than vinyl and has a longer lifespan than natural wood.
This type of decking is more difficult to install, can be pricey, and may contain chemicals that make it difficult to dispose of safely.
While not a common choice, aluminum decking does have its advantages. It dissipates heat more effectively than wood, so it cools quickly. It’s also lighter and stronger than wood. Although installation can be a more difficult job, aluminum decking is nearly maintenance-free.
Besides the installation, the main disadvantage is the cost. Aluminum decks can be pricey. This material is also noisy underfoot and becomes slippery when wet.
These are the most common types of materials used to build decks. One material may be better for your backyard deck. Examine the pros and cons of these materials and choose the one that is right for your home and your budget.