HOMEOWNER GUIDE

Are you a first-time homeowner or an experienced homeowner looking for some extra tips to save you time, money, and headaches? If so, fortunately, you’ve stumbled upon the ultimate homeowner’s guide. Owning a home is exciting and fulfilling, but surprises can arise that are not so kind to your wallet! Read more about how to be a successful homeowner and learn how to prevent problems before they happen with “Dynasty Partner’s official homeowner’s guide!”

Please note that when you purchase your dream home from Dynasty Partners you are receiving the highest level of service and unparalleled construction quality, which prevents many issues found in older, lived in homes. We even offer a one-year limited warranty to ensure your custom home is everything you imagined and more.

 

Home Maintenance Checklist:

Prevention of possible problems and repairs is the best option in every case. Caring for your home and property can help save you a lot of time and money in the long run. Even though some projects may seem like quite an investment, resolving small problems now and cleaning every part of your home thoroughly can help you to catch small issues before they become big ones! To save you the struggle of making your own home care checklist, we’ve prepared one for you. If you already have a list, compare ours with yours and see if you missed anything.

 

General Indoor Maintenance

□ Control and clean areas where you keep trash daily.

□ Paint your house as needed. Keep track of which areas were painted recently and which areas are in need of a fresh coat of paint.

□ Inspect and test fire alarms, smoke detectors, fire extinguishers, and any other fire safety equipment that you possess approximately every 6 months. An easy way to remind yourself is to change the batteries every time you change your clocks (if you have daylight savings)

□ Deep clean your house seasonally or four times a year

□ Service your air conditioning system in the Spring before turning it on. Yes, it will cost some money, but it’s better to service it than find out that something is broken later!

□ Check locks on all windows and doors and ensure their functionality.

□ Examine wood trim around windows and doors to ensure that there is no wood rot or other issues bi-annually.

□ Resolve insect issues immediately if you suspect an issue or see wood rot or debris near floors, walls, or your ceiling.

Examine HVAC filters every 30 days or more frequently if you or your family members have allergies.

□ Clean your dryer vent once a year.

□ Inspect your washing machine and its hoses approximately four times a year. Change your machine's hose if it is leaking.

□ Clean ceiling fans before seasonal use and once or twice during the months you are not using it. Remove dust. Check all parts for functionality and safety.

□ Inspect all plumbing throughout the house for issues and clean aerators on faucets.

□ Check caulking and grout throughout the house.

□ Winterize your house by covering windows, checking for cracks and holes where cold air can enter and resolve any issues quickly.

□ Control issues with electricity. Confirm that your outlets are within electrical regulations.

□ Do not connect too many devices to the same power strip or chain power and extension cords together to prevent sparks and electrical fires.

□ Make sure to not overload the circuits.

□ Remove any frayed wires from home and replace them.

□ Keep any household items at least 6 inches away from radiators or space heaters.

□ Maintain and care for a forced-air heating system (if you have one) which includes replacing filters monthly or as directed by the user’s manual.

□ Inspect your thermostat once to twice a year. Clean the heat sensor and check to see if it is functioning correctly and accurately.

□ Examine all vents in each room with the changing of each season to be confident that they are clear of dust, dirt, and other objects.

 

General Outdoor/Seasonal Maintenance

□ Check and clean your gutters as well as downspouts. Be certain that they are not loose or leaky.

□ Utilize compacted soil in low-lying areas that can be at risk for flooding.

□ Maintain and trim trees and shrubbery, which is usually done in the Spring and or Fall.

□ Remove any dead or unsightly plants, trees, bushes, or flowers from your property.

□ Care for sick trees immediately; do not let them get worse.

□ Make sure your trees are not tangled with electric lines. If you cannot safely remove tree branches that interfere with any wires, hire a professional to do it for you.

□ Examine your sidewalk, driveway, and other areas with concrete. Check for cracks and seal them with concrete crack filler or silicone caulk. Reseal your driveway as needed.

□ Inspect the exterior of your house and look for any cracks, holes, or general wear and tear of the exterior of your home. Examine siding, clean, and repair if needed.

□ Check caulking around windows and doors

□ Check paint on the exterior for peeling and loose caulking

□ Clean window wells seasonally.

□ Look at your screens for your windows and doors in the Spring and the Fall. Check for issues and repair or replace.

□ Monitor and clean exhaust vents on the exterior of your home.

□ Cover exposed pipes (indoors/outdoors) with insulation to keep your house the right temperature and prevent pipes from bursting.

□ Clean outdoor grill after each use, at the end of the summer, and before the next summer. Put away securely during winter and cover. Ensure that gas tank is properly closed if gas is used.

□ Maintain your patio, balcony, or deck. Check for insect nests, loose boards, and general wear and tear.

□ Carefully store firewood at least 2-3 feet from your house and 1-2 feet above the ground. Move the firewood seasonally and check the wood for bugs. Keep your wood covered if possible.

□ Inspect outdoor faucets for leaking or for freeze damage. If the water runs slowly or not at all you may have issues with leaking or frozen pipes. Turn outdoor faucets on and run them during the year if they are not used regularly. Turn off valves to outdoor faucets during the winter.

□ Test all garage-door functions including the reverse feature as needed.

□ Check and clean outdoor yard equipment such as your lawnmower and power trimmer before use.

□ In the winter months, check for icicles and ice dams. Ice may look pretty but it costs a lot if it damages your home!

□ Check heating system before winter.

□ Control needed winter equipment such as shovels and snow blower before the start of winter.

 

Kitchen

□ Control and check your kitchen garbage disposal/incinerator if you have one. Ensure that it is not clogged anywhere, and clean with hot water and baking soda or vinegar ice cubes.

□ Check for insects along the floor, windows, doors, and any areas that can allow insects to enter. Be certain your kitchen is properly maintained and cleaned weekly.

□ Clean hood range filters and grease filters at least twice a year.

□ Inspect the fire extinguisher to ensure that it is charged completely. Replace if needed or out of date.

□ Clean refrigerator coils, behind your refrigerator, and under your refrigerator. Fun Fact: Did you know that vacuuming your refrigerator coils can save you up to 15% on your electricity usage?

□ Check traps for clogs.

□ Exercise your shutoffs once a year so they don’t get calcified

 

Bathroom

□ Check caulking around your bathtub, shower, and sinks, and fix any areas that need re-caulking regularly.

□ Remove and clean showerheads.

□ Remove, check, and drain stoppers. Remove hair and other debris in drains.

□ Examine the rubber seal on your bathtub and fix or change if there appears to be damage.

□ Clean and check the toilet regularly for leaks.

Other Areas of Your Home/Basement

□ Clean both your basement and garage bi-annually (or more often), remove dirt, check for cracks, and inspect any areas that can invite unwanted insects or water into your home.

□ Check your hot water heater regularly and the pressure relief valve.  Remove sediment from your water heater as needed. Put a water heater blanket over your water heater.

□ Check your water softener approximately every 4 months and add salt as needed.

□ Inspect your roof and shingles for damage, holes, loose parts, or buckling at least once a year!

□ Examine the exterior and interior of your chimney and clean if you have one (as needed). You may consider hiring a certified chimney sweep.

□ Look at your attic’s insulation and decide if it is sufficient. Are there holes or is the insulation thin? Add more to save money on your winter heating bill.

□ Control racks, shelves, and knobs for tightness and security throughout the house and in the closet. Avoid placing too much weight on shelves in the closet.

□ If you have a sump pump, clean the pit once a year

□ Have your septic pump monitored annually.

 

If you’re feeling overwhelmed by the checklist, take a deep breath!

 

Many of the things on the list you are probably already doing out of habit. You may have seen your parents or family members do some chores on this list too if you haven’t done them yourself yet. You’ll be surprised how much you can do on your own or with a helping hand!

 

How to Be a Homeowner 101: Planning Ahead and Budgeting!

If you are a first-time homeowner, you no longer have the feeling that you’re just throwing money away. Unlike a rent payment, your house is an investment, which is wonderful, but it’s also important to know about other expenses that can “creep up on you.” There are expenses which you may not have considered originally such as homeowner’s insurance and property taxes. The first thing to do is create a new budget and review all of your new expenses!

 

If you’re an experienced homeowner you probably already know the ins and outs of having a home, however, there is always more to learn! Sometimes it also helps to have a resource to assist you in taking care of your home. Included in our article is an extensive planning guide filled with information on how to create a budget for your home, tips on mortgages, insurance, and taxes, suggestions on how to save money on utility bills, and related homeowner planning tips.

 

Create a New Budget!

  1. Review your old budget and what you previously spent money on.

  2. Plan on budgeting for home owner’s insurance and property taxes. (Plus, don’t forget that you’ll need to assume that in the future your property taxes will increase. Plan and save accordingly!)

  3. Consider how to cover the cost of new furniture, home furnishings, and other housewares.

  4. If you have any land, remember that you will need to budget for supplies to take care of your property such as a lawn mower, fertilizer, herbicide, patio furniture, as well as a snow blower or a good snow shovel or two (if you live in an area that gets snow).

  5. Home Repairs. Repair is an ugly word that you don’t want to hear as a new or even seasoned homeowner! It can be critical to set aside money every month, perhaps even in a separate fund, for emergency home repairs. Home repairs or appliance replacements can cost anywhere from $2,000 to $10,000 dollars or more if you need to fix a roof or your heating or cooling system breaks suddenly.

  6. Lastly, consider all your new expenses and how to set aside money for your mortgage, taxes, new furnishings, lawn care, and home repairs. Then, go ahead and make your new budget!

 

Here are some considerations to think about when buying a new home.

 

Where Life Hits Your Wallet: Mortgage Payments, Insurance, and Taxes!

Mortgage Payments and Insurance: Shop around for homeowner's insurance when buying a new home. Don’t immediately accept the first suggestion you receive from your realtor. If you’re not careful you will be paying more than you should. Also, weigh your options before you decide to take a loan and avoid private mortgage insurance (PMI). PMI can cost you dearly and add a significant chunk of change to your mortgage payment. If possible avoid PMI by waiting to buy a home until you can afford a 20% down payment on your new future home! Hint: Try to make large mortgage payments in the early years of owning your home to reduce interest and other costs.

 

Taxes: Hello property taxes! Never had those before, did you? Property taxes can become a serious financial hardship if you didn’t plan accordingly for them throughout the year. Some people use an escrow system that helps them pay for the mortgage and property taxes year-round. If you choose to use a company with an escrow system to manage your mortgage and tax payments. check with them regularly to guarantee that the correct payments are being made. On the other hand, if you are handling your property taxes by yourself, it is key to remember to budget monthly for your taxes and set aside money for your property taxes throughout the year.

 

We even have more financing resources here and a guide to learn homebuying terms here!

 

Extra Home-Owners Tips!

Mortgage Rates and Debt:

How much of a home can you afford? It is highly recommended by endless sources that your mortgage payment does not exceed more than 25% of your monthly income. Try limiting your mortgage to a 15-year fixed-rate mortgage if possible. If you don’t think you have enough savings to afford a mortgage, consider waiting a little longer to purchase your first home. Additionally, it is recommended that before you purchase a home you clear yourself of any other existing debt, such as school loans and or credit card debt. If you are paying a hefty mortgage, a car payment, school loans, and credit card debt at the same time, you may quickly find yourself overwhelmed. In other words, “don’t bite off more than you can chew!” Be realistic about your available funds, your current income, and your projected future income and expenses.

 

Purchasing Home Furnishings:

Part of planning wisely includes planning for the expense of furnishing your new home. It may be tempting to run to the furniture store, swipe your credit card, and fill your new home with top quality furnishings, but it’s wise to wait until you have the funds on hand. If you are feeling strapped for cash after putting the down payment on your home, know that it’s perfectly reasonable to buy furnishings over time. You can also consider other ways to limit furniture costs such as buying used and like-new furniture from second-hand stores and centers such as Habitat for Humanity Restore shops, Salvation Army, and even Goodwill, or your local thrift shop. Be thrifty and have fun at the same time! You can always upgrade your furniture later when you can afford it.

 

Reducing Existing Expenses:

Lastly, eliminate or reduce unnecessary expenditures! Ask yourself, do you really need 300 channels worth of cable TV or is a subscription to Netflix, a Roku, and an antenna? What other expenses do you have that you can control, reduce, or eliminate? Magazine subscriptions for magazines you don’t read? Expensive contract phone plans? Additionally, don’t fall into the trap of purchasing appliance insurance. You don’t need it and in the end, you’ll more than likely only waste more money! Instead of buying appliance insurance, set aside money every month for appliance and other home repairs. If you don’t need your repair/appliance fund immediately, that’s great, save it for a rainy day!

 

Tax Breaks:

Look into what tax breaks and credits you can be eligible for now that you are a homeowner! Make sure to get every penny of your taxes back that you can. If you are not financially savvy try contacting a helpful friend, simply “Google” what tax breaks you should receive, or contact your financial advisor or a tax expert, for assistance.

 

If you’re a first-time homebuyer, here is what you can expect at closing.

 

Take Precautions and Save Money!

Even though we have already mentioned over 60 ways to prevent potential house repairs and issues in the above checklist we still have a few pointers that can assist you with maintaining both your home and your budget!

 

After You Move In:

Mark and label centrical breakers right after you move in, so you know what they do and which ones they are. Later you may find yourself confused. You should also learn where your utilities (wires, pipes, etc.) are located in your yard and mark them too. If you are planning on planting a few trees you’ll want to be certain you don’t cut some important wires in the process. Speaking of trees, shortly after you move in we suggest that you plant some trees. You can have shade in your yard and even on your house! Your future self will thank you years from now that you planted trees immediately after you moved in!

 

Lastly, check everything. In case we haven’t already said it. Check everything before and after you move in. If there is anything wrong, know your contract, and contact your builder, real estate agent and anyone else who was involved in the construction or purchase of your home. If you bought a home with Dynasty Partners, rest assured we provide an excellent one-year warranty. Furthermore, double and even triple check the address that your new utility companies have on file to be certain that you will receive the bill. Now, most companies also offer online notifications and bills for your convenience.

How to Save Money on Your Utility Bills:

In addition to performing regular house inspections and controls, you may find that there are still other ways you can cut down on current and future bills. One of the most common suggestions to new homeowners is to utilize energy efficient appliances and LED or CFL lightbulbs. Saving on your electricity bill can be quite important during months with extreme temperatures. Another way to control your utility usage is to utilize ceiling fans in rooms of the house that are used the most.  You can also consider installing a programmable thermostat to control how much energy you use, as well as your electric bill. Try reducing the temperature on your hot water heater to lower than the average temperature to minimize energy use.

 

There are also tips which you can follow to save money that don’t cost you anything except for a few seconds of your time! Unplug appliances that are not in use and are not essential such as coffee machines, toasters/toaster ovens, lamps, microwaves, computers, and other household appliances. Plug them in only when you need them! Consider using a SmartStrip for your home appliances as well. Utilize curtains and blinds to keep the house cool or warm to prevent you from running your heat or AC unit around the clock! Don’t forget to turn off the lights when you the leave the room. If you have outdoor space, try using a clothesline to dry your clothes rather than your dryer. Your energy bill will be lower and your clothes will be freshly dried. Also, be certain that when you run the dishwasher or washing machine that it’s completely full. Use the toaster oven or toaster instead of the oven for small meals too. Don’t waste energy and money for no reason, right?

 

Keep Track of Everything:

Keep track of your repairs, home renovations, leaky sinks, clogged vents, and sidewalk cracks. It may seem a little ridiculous, and even tedious, but you may want to keep an excel spreadsheet with the dates that you replaced appliances, filters, pipes, etc. Whether you are a fan of lists or not, keeping one can help you remember when you last added salt to the water heater, cleaned the gutters, or checked the roof. Even mark cracks in the basement, walls, or ceiling with tape with the date when the crack was noticed.  If you carefully inspect and examine each potential problem area in your home consistently, you have the power to prevent problems before they occur, save yourself from a significant amount of stress, and save money too! We hope that you have found our official homeowner’s guide to be helpful. Feel free to share it with other homeowners and be proud of your new home!

 

To learn more about Dynasty Partners and our custom homes in the Des Moines area, contact us today. We’ll help you envision the home you always dreamed of living in.