November 14, 2017

5 Practical Things to Know About Owning a Home

Whether you're a first-time homeowner or you've been in the game for a while, there are some things you should know about owning a home. These 5 homeowner tips are ones that almost no one tells you, but they're vital to successful home maintenance and DIY projects. Includes a free printable home maintenance issues worksheet!

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There are important things about owning a home that some homeowners don’t learn until it’s too late.  Take these 5 practical truths about owning a home to heart, and you’ll be prepared to manage home maintenance challenges head-on.  Plus… a free printable!

“Towels!  I need towels!”  My dad bounded out the front door of my new house.

I located the box of towels and handed it down from the moving truck.

“They’re right here.  What’s going on?”

He grabbed the box and shot back inside, his face a mix of panic and purposeful determination.  I felt a lump forming in my throat as a feeling of dread swept over me.  We had just closed on this house 2 days ago, and something had already gone wrong.

What to Know About Owning a Home

For me, home ownership is an achievement.  I love owning a home.  But there are some things that no one really tells you about being a homeowner.  Once I took each of these 5 truths to heart, owning a home became easier and much more enjoyable for me.

Before I forget – I have a free printable for you!  It’s a handy fillable PDF to keep track of the maintenance issues around your home.  Stop trying to remember it all and start writing it down!

Free Printable Home Maintenance Issues Worksheet

Free Home Maintenance Issues Tracker

Struggling to keep tabs on all the little to-dos around your house?  Get your free copy of the Home Maintenance Issues Tracker!  You'll have a centralized list of all the repairs and upgrades your home needs, plus contact information for your favorite home repair pros within arm's reach.

Construction is Rarely Perfect

I bought my first home in 2007.  It was a brand new condominium. No one else had lived there, and that felt special.  It was pristine, perfect, and all mine.

Until one day, about a week after I moved in.  I had dropped something on the floor of the master bathroom.  Stooping down to pick it up, I froze when my eyes locked on the baseboard next to the bathtub.

The 2 pieces of baseboard didn’t match up to form a perfect 90 degree angle.  And there was a spot of natural wood showing through the pristine white paint.

My mouth dropped open, and my brow furrowed.  My brand new condo wasn’t perfect.  I pursed my lips, angry that I hadn’t noticed it during the final walkthrough with the builder.  “I’ll call the builder about it tomorrow,” I thought.

But I never did call.  In fact, I forgot about it during most of the 10 years I owned the condo.  As a result, I realized that it didn’t really matter.

Part of owning a home is showing grace to the areas of your home that aren’t picture-perfect.

Don’t get me wrong.  There are things that definitely do matter when it comes to quality home construction.  But construction, like any other type of work, is rarely 100% perfect.  Minor cosmetic issues are a fact of a home’s life, old or new.  You can fix them or let them go.  Chances are, no one will notice either way.

Things Can – And Will – Break Down… Be Prepared

I recently wrote in my weekly email newsletter (Sign up below!) about how my furnace broke down on a frigid Sunday morning one January.  That morning, I ripped through Google online and called the first company with after-hours service I found.  A new furnace motor and nearly $800 later, my home was back to being warm and cozy.

Until the very next day, when my furnace failed again.

Although it eventually got fixed, I still felt a fluttering of uneasiness in my stomach.  I was afraid they’d taken advantage of my desperation to get my furnace working on that bone-chilling Sunday morning.

When I relayed this story to my dad, he said only, “I wish you’d called me.”  He has a friend who owns a heating and cooling repair company who never would have taken advantage of me.

In my frantic push to get the furnace fixed, I completely forgot to ask anyone for a recommendation.  As a result, I’d paid dearly and still had problems after the first repair.

What’s the point of this story?  A little preparation in advance can save you time, money, and grief.

If you don’t already have a list of trusted go-to companies to call on when something breaks down, start asking for recommendations.  Talk to friends, family, and neighbors about which companies they use for heating/cooling, plumbing, electrical, roofing, and general repair work.  Make a list and keep it in your kitchen, or wherever you’ll be able to find it easily.  When something does go wrong (And it will), you’ll have a trusted company to call for help.

Free Printable Home Maintenance Issues Worksheet

Free Home Maintenance Issues Tracker

Struggling to keep tabs on all the little to-dos around your house?  Get your free copy of the Home Maintenance Issues Tracker!  You'll have a centralized list of all the repairs and upgrades your home needs, plus contact information for your favorite home repair pros within arm's reach.

Some Things are Best Left to Professionals

We’ve all seen a DIY project gone horribly wrong.  “That looks… nice,” we say to the beaming homeowner, through wide eyes and a forced smile.  We hope against hope that our lilting voice won’t betray the fact that it’s butt-ugly.  “They should have paid someone to do that,” you tell your spouse later, shaking your head.

Skepticism and self-doubt should be completely welcome when it comes to home improvement.  If something is beyond your skillset, think twice before attempting it yourself.  A poorly-done DIY project can lead to costly repairs in the future.  What’s more, you may be putting yourself and your home in harm’s way.

Bottom line, one of the most important things about owning a home is knowing your limits.  Doing home improvement projects on a “learn as you go” basis is asking for trouble.  If you don’t have the skills to do a project well, leave it to a pro.  Which brings me to my next point.

You Can DIY More Projects Than You Think

Although some projects are best left to professionals, you are capable of doing more than you might think.

Low-Skill DIY Projects

Many projects only require an able body, some elbow grease, and basic safety precautions.  DIY’ing the easier stuff around your house can save money, too.

Things like:

…are 100% doable for the home maintenance novice.  A little research online never hurts, and once you’ve done your homework, you can tackle those basic projects with relative ease.  I learned this because I’m so cheap.  I couldn’t bear to pay someone to patch a hole in the wall or clean out my home’s gutters, so I started doing those things myself.

That day my dad came rushing out of my new house begging for towels, I followed him inside.  It turns out, the water line on a toilet had burst due to air in the pipes.  He and I were able to get the water turned off and replace the water supply line.  See?  Easy peasy (And only slightly soggy).

Acquired-Skill DIY Projects

Likewise, it’s also possible to acquire skills that feel beyond what you’re currently capable of.  In that case, remember that practice makes perfect.

Let me give you an example.  When we bought our second home a few years ago, it had the original 1976 kitchen cabinets.  Dark wood, varnish worn away in the centers, brassy handles.  They were terrible.

I looked into having them replaced or refaced, and quickly shut the door on that idea.  It was super expensive!  I started researching whether I could paint them myself, and found a tutorial from creative business blogger (And fellow Kansas Citian) Jennifer Allwood.

Did I watch the tutorial video and happily paint away on my kitchen cabinets?

No.  I bought some similar cabinet doors from the local Habitat for Humanity ReSale store.  I practiced on those old doors until I was comfortable with painting cabinetry.  Then, I let loose on my kitchen.  It was a process, but my kitchen cabinets got a beautiful makeover for less than $400.

You can easily practice your DIY skills on things like backsplash tiling, decorative molding, or tongue-and-groove flooring.  Remember, though, to practice first on something that isn’t a permanent part of your house!

A Little Maintenance Goes a Long Way

Finally, I wish I’d accepted right from the start that home maintenance issues should be tackled as soon as they arise.  Peeling paint, dripping faucets, leaky roofs, and loose siding all start out as little problems.  If you keep putting them off, they can turn into home maintenance disasters, costing hundreds or thousands of dollars to repair.

Keep a running list of home maintenance issues, and set aside some time once per week to address whatever you can.  If you decide you aren’t capable of resolving an issue yourself, contact a professional as soon as possible.

In Conclusion

There are things about owning a home that you should learn and accept sooner rather than later.  By arming yourself with information and being realistic about your limits and expectations, you’ll be in a good position to give your home the care it deserves.  Let’s recap:

  • Construction is rarely perfect.  Don’t sweat the small stuff.  Unless you know how to fix it.
  • Be prepared when things break down.  Gather a list of highly-recommended professionals for heating/cooling, plumbing, electrical, etc to call when something breaks down.
  • Some things are best left to professionals.  If you don’t have the skills to do a project, don’t attempt it.
  • You are capable of more projects than you might think.  Many projects don’t require much skill.  More difficult projects can be achieved by learning skills you’d normally leave to a pro (BEFORE you start the project itself!).
  • A little maintenance goes a long way.  Take note of maintenance issues around your home, and address them regularly.

What do you wish you’d known about owning a home?  Let me know in the comments below!  And don’t forget to grab your free Home Maintenance Issues tracker!

Free Printable Home Maintenance Issues Worksheet

Free Home Maintenance Issues Tracker

Struggling to keep tabs on all the little to-dos around your house?  Get your free copy of the Home Maintenance Issues Tracker!  You'll have a centralized list of all the repairs and upgrades your home needs, plus contact information for your favorite home repair pros within arm's reach.

Whether you're a first-time homeowner or you've been in the game for a while, there are some things you should know about owning a home.  These particular homeowner tips are ones that almost no one tells you, but they're vital to successful home maintenance and DIY projects.  Plus a free printable home maintenance issues worksheet!  #homesweethome #diy #printable

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