The first five things you should acquaint yourself with in your new home
Buying a new home can be a stressful or difficult process, from saving up for a deposit to choosing the right home for you, to negotiating a sale and then keeping everything crossed that nothing horrible will show up in the searches... Yet somehow, when you finally hold those keys in your hand, the buildup makes stepping through your own front door for the first time even more satisfying!
The preparation you did in buying the house in the first place was all about achieving a permanent home, and now you have plenty of time to make it your own and enjoy it. But now the house is yours, you may be unsure of what to do first: as first time buyers you may not have much by way of furniture to fill your rooms, so perhaps your first thought will be to start shopping to feather your nest. But there are a few ‘housekeeping’ issues that you should attend to first, to avoid unpleasant surprises further down the line.
1. Find your fuse box, stopcock and thermostat
Fuse boxes tend to be kept in the cupboard under the stairs but could be anywhere out of sight. If the previous owners have not shown you where it is, have a hunt round. When you find it, check whether it is one of the old-fashioned fuse boxes that require wires to repair blown fuses, or one of the more modern boxes that have circuit breaker switches. If it is the former, familiarise yourself with how to repair a blown fuse now, rather than when all the lights go out when a bulb blows, and consider updating it to comply with modern regulations.
Similarly, finding the stopcock now and making sure you can turn it on and off is far better done now than during an emergency. The stopcock is normally located underneath the kitchen sink and will turn the water supply to your home on or off.
Your thermostat will determine how warm or cold your house will be, as it is linked to your boiler and central heating system. If you have moved in as a couple, you will probably disagree over how warm or cool the house should be: save a lot of argument by negotiating a maximum and minimum temperature (to be altered depending on the season) when you move in. Alternatively, if your thermostat is portable, move it to the room that you spend most time in (so that the room will always be at the right temperature) and then hide it so that your partner cannot change it.
2. Change your locks
You should have been given at least two sets of keys for your home by the previous owners. However, you do not know who else has had copies of those keys over the years and it is sensible to change your locks to ensure that only you (and anyone you wish to gain entry) have access to your home.
3. Invest in a smoke alarm and CO detector
Hopefully, if you have any gas appliances in the home, you will have been given a copy of any recent service history and they should be working satisfactorily. Even so, you should fit at least one carbon monoxide (CO) detector as soon as you can, placing it close to your gas appliances as directed on the pack. Similarly, smoke alarms should be fitted and tested regularly – it is now recommended for new builds and properties that have been extended recently that smoke detectors are interconnected (meaning that if one goes off downstairs, its counterpart will also sound upstairs, ensuring that everyone in the house hears the alarm).
4. Talk to your neighbours
The quickest way to get to know things like when your bin will be collected or where the best takeaways are located is to talk to your neighbours. Your neighbours may turn out to be not only useful but also friendly and a good source of company, and may also be willing to keep an eye on your home if ever you are away. Find out whether there are any Neighbourhood Watch schemes in the area as joining one can help to deter crime and reduce your home insurance premiums.
5. Clean your carpets and curtains
Most house sales are made with carpets and curtains included. If your property is a new-build then your home will be filled with that lovely “new carpet” smell. But if you have bought a previously-owned property, it is a good idea to hire a steam cleaner and give the carpets a good clean before you start bringing your furniture in. Similarly, now is a good time to decorate: even if you have a new-build, you may want to change the decor to suit your personal taste, and there will probably be odd bits that need plastering or patching up.
If you have furniture and personal possessions from your previous home, it is a good idea to keep them in storage
for a few days or even a couple of weeks so that you have time to properly prepare your home: it is a lot easier to clean carpets, re-plaster and decorate an empty house than it is to climb around furniture, and your possessions will be safe, clean and dry until you are ready to get everything unpacked. Once everything is to your liking, you can retrieve your belongings and turn your house into a home!