Getting started on a new house
home is a
Learning to maintain and
improve it is a long series of
baby steps, sometimes painful
and sometimes rewarding.
To help get new
homeowners off on the right
foot, we asked our Field
Editors, some of the sharpest
DIY veterans around, to pass
along their best tips for
choosing, maintaining and
improving a home.
Tackle one project at a time
Make a homeowner’s journal
Buy a ring binder and keep insurance papers, repair receipts
and all other paperwork pertaining to the house in it. Storing
all your house information in one handy place makes life
easier for the homeowner and can be a sales “plus” when
selling the house later.
Get to know your house before making big changes
Live in your home for 12 to 18 months before undertaking
any major renovations such as additions or knocking down
walls. What you initially think you want may change after
you've lived there for a while.
Don’t be afraid to DIY
Ninety percent of a DIY project is having the guts to try. Worst
case—you mess up and then bring in the professional. Best
case—you save money, learn something new and feel a great
sense of accomplishment.
Finish projects . . . now
Don't learn to live with incomplete projects. If you do, the last
couple of pieces of trim can linger for years!
The TOP Piece of Advice
We heard this tip over and over, along
with many horror stories from new homeowners who didn’t
Get a licensed home inspection!
- Don't let your real estate agent choose the
inspector. Hire someone who works for you without
any conflict of interest.Inspect the inspector before you hire. Ask to see
a sample home inspection report. Comprehensive
reports run 20 to 50 pages and include color
photos showing defects or concerns. Also ask
about the length of the inspection. A thorough
inspection takes a minimum of three to four hours.
- Walk through with the inspector. You'll learn a
lot about your house.
- You may have to pay more for a certified inspector,
but in the long run it’s worth it. Certified
inspectors use sophisticated measuring and
detection equipment that can find potential
defects that can't be easily seen. Spend $1,000
now rather than $10,000 in surprise repairs later.
(For a list of inspectors certified by the American
Society of Home Inspectors, visit ashi.org.)
Ask neighbors about pros they trust
If you're looking for plumbers, electricians or other pros, ask
your neighbors. You tend to get decent advice if you get it from
people who live near you.
Back to Top
Offer to buy the tools too