- Your first priority: Change the locks on all the doors.
- Find out where the fuse box and main water valve are located.
- Check smoke detectors and change all filters.
The moving van has left, the boxes are unpacked (well, most of them, anyway), and your new home is finally all yours. Time to relax, right?
Hardly. It’s fine to luxuriate in your new surroundings, but you have lots of work ahead, and some of it can’t wait. Here’s a look at the most important tasks facing new homeowners.
CHANGE THE LOCKS: You don’t know who else has keys to your home, so make changing the locks your No. 1 priority. You can install new deadbolts yourself for as little as $10 per lock, or you can call a locksmith. If you supply the new locks, a locksmith will typically charge $20 to $30 per lock for labor.
CHECK FOR PLUMBING LEAKS: Your home inspector should do this for you before the sale closes, but it doesn’t hurt to double-check. Look for dripping faucets and running toilets, and check your water heater for signs of a leak.
LOCATE THE FUSE BOX AND MAIN WATER VALVE: Learn which fuses control what parts of your home and label them accordingly. This will take two people: One to stand in the room where the power is supposed to go off, the other to trip the fuses and yell, “Did that work? How about now?” Also, learn how to turn off the main water valve in case you have a plumbing emergency or you leave your home for an extended period.
CHECK SMOKE DETECTORS: Find all the smoke detectors and test them. If you don’t feel the home is adequately covered with them, install more as quickly as possible. And make sure there is a fire extinguisher on every floor.
CHANGE THE FILTERS: Your home has lots of filters — the air filter in the heating and air-conditioning unit, the vent filter above the stove, and aeration filters in the kitchen and bathroom spigots. Change them all when you move in.
STEAM-CLEAN THE CARPETS: A thorough cleaning of your new home is a no-brainer — washing walls, floors, windows, cabinets, and so on — but don’t forget to give the carpets a deep cleaning, too. Do this before you move your furniture in, and your new home life will be off to a fresh start.
CHECK FOR PESTS: Be on the lookout for evidence of mice, rats, bats, termites, and roaches, and treat them accordingly. You might also consider a visit from a pest-removal service, which will cost $100 to $300, followed by monthly or quarterly visits at about $50 each time.
STOCK AN EMERGENCY-PREPAREDNESS KIT: FEMA has a great list of supplies you should have in your kit, including cash, food, water, infant formula and diapers, medications, a flashlight, batteries, a first-aid kit, matches, sleeping bags, and a change of clothing. The agency recommends you stock enough for every member of your household, including pets, for at least 72 hours.