Skills for Surviving Homeownership

Our old neighborhood is gaining some new residents as some of the houses are turned over to much younger neighbors. The great thing about having young, new homeowners is that they are all gungho about revamping their homes and surroundings. Unfortunately, this stately old tree was a casualty of new owners and new home insurance requirements.

If you’re a new homeowner, here’s a few more tips you may not have been aware of:

Beyond paying bills and feeling proud of your new status, there are other responsibilities for first-time homeowners. You’ll want to get to know your neighbors – not only do they make decent friends but they can be good look-out sources while you are on vacation. You’ll want to catalog all of your belongings – yep, I said all – for insurance purposes in case of fire, flood or burglary. See what I mean by good tips? If you are new to the home-owning club, here are five skills we know you’ll need:

Couple in front of new home holding door keys

Moving Heavy Furniture

Even after moving day, you’ll likely spend some time rearranging and replacing furniture for years to come. And unless you have a house full of strong bodies, you’ll be doing it on your own. When you’re a homeowner, the possibility of scratching the tile or tearing the carpet becomes a little more important. Avoid that – and breaking your back – by using discs that are made specifically for moving furniture. A package of eight Magic Sliders sells for $5. These small self-adhesives can slide furniture over any surface, including wood, vinyl and carpet.

Recycling Household Waste

You may have your plastics and papers separated, but do you know what to do with spent light bulbs, old electronics and medical waste? According to the Environmental Protection Agency, compact fluorescent lights (CFLs), if not recycled properly, can release mercury into the environment. Don’t just toss those to the curb – instead, contact your local environmental regulatory agency for more information. Before recycling electronics, contact local charities to see if they could use your equipment instead. Best Buy has a trade-in recycling program where most stores will accept used electronics and appliances and recycle them for you.

Playing It Safe

A tall fence or thick shrubbery may protect your privacy, but it can weaken the security of your home. Dark or dense areas offer thieves a place to hide while plotting their break-in. Clear these areas and use motion-activated lights to brighten them. Besides just locking all windows and sliding doors, place a wooden dowel in the tracks to make them harder to open in the case a lock is broken. When considering home security, read up on local crime trends and precautions offered from community authorities. For example, home security in Charlotte (a bigger city) may be different than protecting your home in Santa Fe (a smaller city).

Checking for Mold

Termites, mold, radon – sometimes the scariest home invaders aren’t people. If you have a mold problem, you have a moisture problem. Before doing anything else, fix the source of the water problem or leak. Doing so will prevent mold growth, according to the EPA, and make it easier for you to clean and dry any damp or wet materials affected by mold. Reduce your indoor humidity by venting bathrooms, using air conditioners and de-humidifiers, and opening windows to encourage air circulation.

DIY vs. Hiring a Handyman

Some repairs will require you to put on your Mr. Fix-It hat and get to work. For others you’ll need to step back and realize it’s time to hire a professional. Use your best judgment so you aren’t in the middle of a mess when you have to call for help. Instead of thumbing through the classified, visit the local hardware store for a recommendation. The people behind the counter know who is dealing with home-repair jobs, leaky faucets and plugged toilets – they’ll be the best source for references.

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