Congratulations, you are now a proud homeowner!
But after the dizzying newness of one of life’s prized pinnacles wears off a little, the reality starts to set in. Eek! You own a home —now what?
Fear not, we have you covered with this guide of essential items that every first-time homeowner should have. Our comprehensive list will help you integrate smoothly into your new role as a homeowner, ensuring that you’re prepared for all the little tasks and hiccups (both major and minor) that may pop up along the way.
New lock and keys. This first step is, dare we say, a key one, and frequently overlooked by new homeowners in their excitement to dive right into the unpacking, painting and decorating. But it’s important and shouldn’t be ignored. You don’t know who had access to your new house before you bought it, or how many copies of the key might be floating around out there. Changing the locks doesn’t take very long, and most locksets only require a screwdriver to get the job done. Trust us, you’ll sleep better at night.
Ladder. You might not think of a ladder as being an essential item, and it certainly isn’t as sexy as window dressings or new linens, but you’ll be surprised at how often you need one. Whether it’s to replace light bulbs, reach the ceiling when you’re repainting the living room, or clean out the gutters after a storm, your ladder will quickly become a valued tool.
Flashlight. Power outages and lost socks happen, and a heavy-duty flashlight is handy for both. Use it when you need to move around a dark house or locate that errant sock underneath the bed. Just make sure to store the flashlight in a spot that’s easy to get to in pitch darkness.
Plunger. Let’s be honest, when you need a plunger, you aren’t exactly in the position to go out and buy one. Avoid that uncomfortable moment by stocking your bathroom with one ahead of time. Pro Tip: you may want to buy an extra plunger in case you ever need to unclog your kitchen sink.
Basic toolkit. Toolkits, like the people who own them, come in all shapes and sizes, and when it comes to building your own, there’s no wrong list of ingredients. However, at a minimum, your toolkit should include a hammer, utility knife, multifunctional screwdriver, tape measure, level, and pliers.
Fire Extinguisher. Fire extinguishers should be stored in an accessible area— the kitchen (where most residential fires occur) and bedroom are both good spots. Most experts recommend inspecting the pressure gauge every month, which you can do on your own, as well as having the extinguisher inspected by your local fire department annually. The U.S. Fire Administration has a useful guide to selecting and maintaining fire extinguishers.
Carbon Monoxide Alarm. Most state laws require that carbon monoxide alarms be installed in all new and existing homes and apartments, so chances are your new home has one. But experts recommend they be replaced every 5-7 years so it may be time to change yours. And while you’re at it, check the smoke alarms too; experts recommend they be replaced every ten years.
Cleaning Supplies. Home sale practices vary from place to place, and while it would be nice if the previous owner had your home professionally cleaned before turning over the keys, it doesn’t always happen. So it’s a good idea to show up with the standard arsenal of cleaning supplies, including paper towels, sponges, a toilet brush, an all-purpose cleaner, a broom and dustpan, and a vacuum if there’s carpet.
A List of Names for Trusted Handymen. Having the name of a good plumber in an emergency is like having a key to the Holy Grail, and the same goes for electricians, handymen, and house sitters. Asking friends and family for recommendations is one way to build this precious list, or you can peruse Nextdoor, a social network site that allows members to connect with other neighbors who live in their area and seek answers to the questions they have.
A Good Neighbor. And speaking of neighbors, you never know when you may need to lean on one, so get to know yours (and compile their phone numbers while you’re at it). In a jam, they may be able to check on your pets, take in your mail, or help out with a long laundry list of other things. Even the nosy ones are good for alerting you to suspicious activity around your property. And who knows, you may even gain a dear friend in the process.
Related: Ten things you should do immediately after moving into your new home.