You have to experience homeownership firsthand to truly understand what it’s like. Owning a home can be a rewarding milestone, but it can also come with responsibilities you may not have expected when you first started the process.
Much of the responsibility involves home maintenance and cost. From home repairs to finding a trusted contractor, here are some surprising things no one told you about becoming a homeowner.
1. Home Maintenance is Costly
Unlike renting, where your landlord conveniently pays for repairs, you are in charge of paying for anything that breaks in your home, as well as investing money into regular home maintenance, such as replacing outdoor siding or windows.
According to the Balance, you should set aside approximately one percent of your home’s purchase price for maintenance each year. For example, if you purchase a $350,000 home, you’re looking at an average of $3,500 for repairs and annual maintenance. You may exceed that number if you own an older home and encounter larger problems, or you may end up spending less and have more money saved for the following year.
2. When You Find a Qualified Contractor, Save Their Number
Locating a reputable plumber or electrician can be tough if you’ve never hired one before. Without the proper contractor, you may run into problems such as paying too much, or worse, receiving poor quality work.
To find a qualified contractor, do your research and ask your friends, family, and coworkers for referrals. Recommendations are the best way to find someone because your friend or family member has worked with them before and can attest to their skills. After you find someone you like, make sure to keep their contact information on hand for future use.
3. Property Lines Can Be a Subject of Contention
As a homeowner, you share a property line with your neighbor, usually marked with a fence or other divider. There might also be shrubs, trees, or other greenery along your property line. As a shared fixture between your homes, it’s important to consult with your neighbor before attempting any construction or pruning that could encroach on their territory.
Many first-time homeowners do not consider property lines until an issue arises, such as a neighboring tree that has overgrown onto their property. Learn your rights as a homeowner regarding property lines, encroaching, and trespassing to help protect yourself and prevent any misunderstandings between you and your neighbor.
4. Home Inspection Misses
Home inspections provide you with a solid overview of a home’s condition by inspecting its heating, roof, exterior, electrical, plumbing, and more. What most people don’t realize is that a home inspection is typically a visual inspection. The inspector will only report what they can observe, meaning they may not uncover hidden issues, such as mold or asbestos, pests, or water damage.
An inspector may be able to spot signs of damage caused by these underlying issues, but diagnosing the problem can only be done by specialized service providers, such as pest control experts or a certified contractor.
5. Maintenance is a Never-Ending Job
Like a vehicle, a home requires proper care to keep it functioning. Between regular household chores, such as laundry or dishes, you also have to perform indoor maintenance, such as changing furnace filters, replacing batteries in smoke alarms, and cleaning your appliances.
Additionally, you will have to maintain the exterior of your home throughout the seasons, which can include mowing the lawn, shoveling the walkways, cleaning rain gutters, or weeding the garden.
6. You Must Get a Permit to Build Structures
Planning to build a new extension, deck, or shed? Before you go ahead and buy supplies, you’ll need to talk to your local municipality about getting a permit to build your structure.
While you’re free to make improvements to the inside of your home, any major renovations including home extensions or patios, as well as garages or garden sheds, require prior approval from your city or town. They will review your building plans, and if approved, visit you later to make sure you’ve safely built the new addition.
7. Your Home is a Work in Progress
Many first-time homeowners envision their dream home, but the road to get there usually involves doing major, costly upgrades.
While you might feel tempted to go into full-on construction mode, try to plan and organize your upgrades in advance so you can tackle them gradually and stay on budget. The same goes for decorating your home. When you move into a larger home, it can feel empty, and you might not have the furniture to fill the space. Instead of breaking the bank to furnish and decorate your home right away, wait and slowly upgrade your furniture when you can afford to. It also doesn’t hurt to hold off on paint choices until you’ve lived in the space awhile and had time to think it through.
Turning a House into a Home
Buying your first home can be a freeing, but also frightening experience. You left your old place behind along with those memories, and now you’re committed to living in a new neighborhood and sleeping in a property where you’ve yet to prepare a meal.
It’s normal to have moments of doubt, but remember that it takes time to turn a house into a home. You will start to feel more comfortable as you unpack your stuff, spend more time there, and treat it like your own. The sooner you get organized, the better you will feel. You might lose things here or there, but you will be gaining a whole new perspective on what it means to be a homeowner.
What surprised you about owning your first home?