Common Mistakes New Homeowners Make

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Houses don’t come with a how-to manual (even though they probably should).

If you haven’t owned your own home before, then odds are good that you’re constantly running up against unexpected problems. Here are a few no-nos that many new homeowners end up making.

Landscaping at random.

One of your first projects may be sprucing up the outside of your new house—adding some plants, maybe a small patio. However, you should probably proceed with caution.

Builders grade lots very carefully for the best drainage, and when you disrupt the slope they’ve created, you risk water flowing back toward your house instead of away from it. This can lead to foundation problems, which end up being costly to fix down the road.

Not keeping records of your improvements.

Fixer-uppers don’t stay fixer-uppers forever (well, unless you’re doing it wrong). If you’ve put money into significant improvements or renovations, then you should be keeping detailed records and hanging onto your receipts. Some improvements are tax deductible, and others can increase the potential sale price of your home, but you’ll need the documentation to back it up.

Ignoring your bathroom fans.

Bathroom fans exist for a reason, and that reason isn’t to rid the room of lingering smells.

Bathrooms generally have the highest humidity of any room in the house, and that excess moisture creates all sorts of problems. Water vapor can seep into your drywall and electrical sockets, creating a perfect environment for mold and damaging your electrical system. This is especially important if your bathroom doesn’t have other ventilation routes, like a window. Remember to use your fan after hot showers.

Not budgeting for upkeep and emergencies.

When you’re used to renting, it can be easy to fall into the habit of allocating just enough money to pay your bills and spending the rest on your other needs. But when you own your own house, you don’t have a landlord to pay for plumbers or mow the lawn—those expenses are all yours, and they’re easy to forget.

The same goes for emergencies. If a falling tree damages your roof, or a pipe breaks and your basement floods, your homeowner’s insurance will probably cover the repairs, but you may still find yourself paying out of pocket for things like hotels.

Not knowing where your property line is.

If you haven’t seen your property line staked out, then you probably don’t know exactly where your land ends and your neighbor’s begins. This may not seem particularly pressing at the moment, but it’s the sort of thing you’re going to need to know before you start any major yard work or building, or else risk getting on your new neighbors’ bad side.

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