How to take care of your home in Houston
Recently, we gave you some tips on buying a new home in Houston. Thinking about it a bit more, we realized that this list wasn’t quite complete. Yes, all the right information, but we know from experience that buying a home isn’t even half the battle. Once you’ve landed in your new home, what happens?
For new owners, this can be intimidating. There’s so much to think about and love about having a baby, there’s no owner’s manual. You are completely alone here. So let us help you with a few things to consider after buying your home.
Pay for good insurance.
Insurance is nothing more than peace of mind…until you need it. Then it’s a safety net. Know what your coverage entails. For example, some covers protect you from leaks under your foundation. Some don’t. Check it carefully and seek help from an expert. It can mean the difference between a $9,000 roof replacement and a $250 deductible for the same problem. And don’t skimp. Buy more than you think you need. Trust us on this one.
Prepare for disasters.
Having good insurance will help a bit, but even if you’re not in Houston’s official “flood plain”, buy flood insurance. As a friend told us, “After flooding without it, I would buy flood insurance now even if I lived in the middle of a desert.” Nothing is more catastrophic than flood waters when it comes to damaging a home. And, in Houston, it can happen at any time. Although you should have a checklist for what to do when it comes to preparing your home for a hurricane, keep in mind that water generally does much more damage than wind.
Get a home warranty plan and tailor it to your needs.
There are mixed feelings in the original world about home warranties. Some consider them a waste of money, but for new owners they can be a lifesaver. But make sure they match what you need. If you have new and guaranteed appliances, you do not need coverage for them. But, an older home or pool may need a little more than normal. Shop around for the best prices and plans that suit your home.
Learn about your neighborhood (and your neighbors).
Obviously, this should be on your home buying checklist, but even if you’ve already purchased, it’s worth knowing the ins and outs of your range hood. Get to know the act restrictions (if you have any). In Houston, they can make the difference between your choice of house color, whether or not you can have solar panels, where to store your trash cans, and whether you can have a boat. Act restrictions can run the gamut from non-existent to fucking dictatorship. And get involved when possible so you know what to expect from those responsible. Not all homeowners associations are filled with weird little trolls peering over your fence looking for infractions, but good to know if they are.
And while we’re on the subject, get to know your neighbors. The earliest would be best. Come by and introduce yourself. You don’t have to like everyone who lives near you, but when your electricity is out and your neighbor’s isn’t, they’ll be much more likely to lend you an outlet to run your refrigerator if you are on good terms.
Budget for repairs, even for a new home, and don’t delay them if you can avoid them.
When real estate agents discuss costs with you, they rarely include anything other than your mortgage. They can talk to you about taxes and insurance, but no one tells you how much it costs to own a home beyond that monthly payment to your mortgage company. Maintaining a house in good working order is complicated. Even new homes have problems with them. Older people are even more prone to problems. And much, if not all, will not be covered by insurance or home warranties.
When budgeting for your home, assume repairs are about half of what you spend on your mortgage, taxes, and insurance. It may seem like a lot, but when your AC unit shuts down in August, you’ll be glad you were prepared. And when repairs arrive, get them done as soon as possible. They tend to build up and steamroll you. That one piece of siding that needs painting could hide wood rot that could suddenly bloat your problems beyond what you can handle.
Remember that the costs will increase every year and will always be higher than you think.
Another thing no one tells you is that your mortgage may be fixed (hopefully you don’t have an adjustable rate mortgage), but your taxes and insurance certainly are. not. And the older your home gets, the more repairs will be needed. It should also be noted that if you are paying an escrow, it will be based on the amount you paid for taxes and insurance. Last year. If the value of your property increases, not only will your taxes and insurance be higher, but you will likely have a shortage in your escrow as costs have increased and you will receive a bill from the mortgage company on top of everything else. . Just be ready.
Have a good list of reliable repair services (if you don’t have one, ask around).
An experienced homeowner always has a list of plumbers, electricians and other home repair experts at his disposal. You need people you can trust to handle things for you as they arise. Sometimes it’s simple, like replacing an electrical outlet or unclogging a toilet. Other times, you’ll need an experienced HVAC technician to diagnose a more serious problem. If you don’t know anyone who does this, check with your neighbors or post requests online. It’s a great way to find competent help.
Oh, and if you’re so inclined, watch YouTube videos on how to handle minor repairs yourself. Get yourself a good set of tools and get to work. But, don’t electrocute yourself in the process.
When evaluating your new home, check five critical areas.
These are the most expensive and complicated problems to fix and if you’ve owned your home for more than five or six years, you’re bound to run into one, so be prepared.
Keep an eye out for cracks in the wall that have just emerged or closet doors that suddenly don’t close as well as they used to. If you suspect a foundation problem, address it immediately.
Hail damage can often lead to leaks. Sometimes you won’t even know you have a leak until your ceiling collapses. After a storm, have your roof inspected and plan for a replacement every 15 to 20 years.
Heaters are important, but when your a/c breaks down in the summer…ugh. It’s also likely your biggest utility bill, so the more efficient and functional your system is, the better.
Nothing will ruin your dream home better than an electrical fire, not to mention the danger to you and your family. Have those wires and your electrical box inspected.
Old pipes often start out with small pinhole leaks that you may not even notice. But, eventually, they can burst and create a huge mess. Transplanting is annoying and expensive, but often necessary at some point in the life of your home.
If you have purchased a wood frame home, especially one with a pillar and beam foundation, an annual termite inspection is a must. You don’t need the beams holding up your house to suddenly turn to sawdust.
Don’t be too ambitious from the start.
Moving from an apartment to a house often means you’ll need more and newer furniture. You might also want to put a fresh coat of paint on your bedroom or add some soundproofing for your new recording studio (is that just us?). Whatever you want, take it easy. Remember that there are a lot of expenses that come with owning a home. Set reasonable goals and budget accordingly for the first year or two. Once you’re in a better place knowing where the costs are, you’ll have plenty of time to get that Eddie Van Halen mural on your office wall or put an entire room of small furniture for your dogs. This is your house, go crazy!
Your garden is also part of your home.
Yard maintenance is something that is often overlooked, but it is important not only for the beauty of your home, but also to protect your home from damage during a storm. The trees must be checked and pruned each year by a professional. Nobody wants a tree rotting from the inside to fall on their house during a hurricane, but it does happen. You’ll also want to do things like make sure your beds aren’t above the foundation line around your house. If so, water can seep between the foundation and your home, get under your floors and create a huge mess. The exterior of your home is more than the structure, it’s your whole garden!