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Smart Advice For New Homeowners

January, 11th, 2016

Whether you’re purchasing an older home in need of some love, a renovated house in a historic district, or brand-new construction built just for you, being a first-time homeowner is full of excitement. All the new responsibilities can be a little bit stressful, so before you start painting the walls, rearranging furniture, or designing your gallery wall, here are a few tips for staying smart about your new property.

Ensure you know the location of the main water shutoff valve. One of the fastest ways for a home to go from cozy to condemned is through severe water damage. A broken pipe can gush dozens of gallons of water into your home before you’re able to get anyone over to help, so it’s imperative to be able to shut your water off yourself. Before you even start moving in, ask the former owner (or if it’s new construction, your builder) to show you exactly where the shutoff valve is and how to use it. Then ensure that anyone living in your home who might be home alone at any time (teenagers included) also knows where the valve is and how to operate it.

Don’t just drill into the walls. One of the most fun aspects of homeownership is being able to do what you want when it comes to paint colors and what you hang on the walls. However, the way homes are constructed could mean that the hole you drill to hang up your favorite piece of art could interfere with electrical wiring, ductwork, cables, or plumbing pipes. You can pick up an inexpensive stud sensor for around $25; this tool will give you some assistance in locating those areas that you need to avoid when it comes to drilling holes or nailing anything into the wall. Stud sensors aren’t foolproof, though, so it’s worth learning these simple rules:

  • Only drill to a maximum depth of 1 ¼ inches — this clears drywall and plaster but isn’t deep enough to reach most pipes or wires.
  • Most wiring in houses is close to the floor, so don’t drill between 8 inches to 2 feet from the ground at all.
  • Don’t drill vertically above or below light switches. The wiring for the switches runs up and down from that location.

Check the slope around your home before you buy. You’ll want to ensure you have at least 6 inches of downward slope over the course of about 10 feet. This will ensure that rainwater, snow, or icemelt will drain away from your foundation. If water continually builds up around your house, this accumulation will lead to cracking and leak into the foundation over time — this means a lot of money spent for expensive repairs. What can you do if you don’t have that kind of a slope now? It’s worth paying someone or doing it yourself to build up a slope. It’ll save you thousands later on. While you’re at it, take a look at your gutter downspouts — they need to be funneling water at least five feet away from your house.

Don’t cut down trees yourself. Just don’t. It’s an incredibly risky job to try to DIY. Without the right kinds of preparation and experience, you’ll take a big risk of accidentally causing damage to your property, your neighbor’s property… or even one of your houses. Call a professional tree-removal company instead. Ensuring your safety is worth the investment.

First-time homeownership is equally exciting and nerve-wracking. Hopefully our advice will help you safely settle in and make your new home your very own. When issues with plumbing, HVAC, electrical wiring, or drainage occur, Corley is the company to call. We provide exceptional service and upfront pricing that you can trust. You can reach us by phone at (864) 416-7492 or contact us online at any time.