Notify the post office that you’ve changed your address so they can forward mail to your new home. However, that forwarding service only lasts for a few months, so remember to modify your address on all important accounts, such as bank accounts, health insurance, and memberships.
You’ll also want to contact gas and electric companies and tell them you’ve moved. If you’re still in the same city, they may be able to simply transfer your account to your new address.
You can't be sure who has key access to your home, so change the locks to be on the safe side. Installing new locks yourself is fairly inexpensive. Alternatively, you can call up a locksmith — if you supply the new locks, they typically charge around $20 to $30 to install each lock.
While you’re changing out locks, consider upgrading to a smart lock for keyless access and to gain more control over who’s entering your home and when.
Before you unpack and before the furniture arrives, enlist the help of family members and friends and do a thorough cleaning of your house.
Don’t forget to vacuum and wash the carpets, mop the floors, bleach the bathroom, clear out the fridge, scrub the sinks and the oven, and wipe down all your cabinets, drawers, shelves, and closets.
Home inspectors usually take care of this one, but it doesn't hurt to verify that everything is okay yourself.
To identify whether your property has leaky plumbing, check the water meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour window when no one is using any any sinks, toilets, or showers. If the number changes, you have a leak.
Mice, rats, and cockroaches are some of the more common ones, but depending on where your home is located, you might have to deal with bats, termites, and other uninvited guests.
Take steps to uncover any nests or holes in the wall that could be signs of vermin in the home, then contact a pest control specialist.
Find out which fuses control what parts of your house and label them accordingly.
You’ll want to know how to turn your house's main water valve off. Water from a burst pipe can flood your home with water in minutes, soaking everything in sight.
If you know how to turn off the water to your home, you’ll be prepared to minimize damage if you have a plumbing emergency, if a natural disaster is heading your way, or if you’re going out of town.
Just locate the shut-off valve or handle — it could be inside or outside your house — and rotate it until it’s off. Test it by checking your faucets to make sure that no water comes out.
If you have a team of professionals you trust and their phone numbers readily available, you’ll be prepared to handle the unexpected. You don't want to be searching up plumbers when your toilet is spewing sewage onto the bathroom floor. Ask your new neighbors for names of contractors they recommend.
Check all emergency exits, and create a family fire plan that has a dedicated rendezvous point outside.
Prepare yourself for more severe disasters with an emergency preparedness kit. Stockpile enough supplies for every member of your household, including pets, for at least 72 hours.
Installing smoke detectors will help protect you and your loved ones in the event of a fire. But smoke detectors can fail, so you need to ensure they are working correctly.
Test every smoke detector and replace any batteries that are running low — the fire department will be happy to inspect your home to make sure it is up to code.
Some homes also have carbon monoxide detectors; these usually have a built-in test function.
Adding in a monitored security system is a great way to ensure that your home is protected from an environmental disaster (i.e. fire, carbon monoxide) or crime. Knowing that police and fire departments will be able to respond quickly to any emergency at your home can help you find peace of mind.
While standard alarms in homes are just designed to trigger a siren in the event of an intrusion, alarm monitoring decreases your risk of burglary by over 300%. Plus, depending on your provider, you can save around 10-15% each year on your homeowners insurance.
Adding artwork, shelves, and wall cabinets means drilling into your walls. Doing so, however, runs the risk of damaging your plumbing pipes, ductwork, wires, and cables, so precise drilling is essential.
A stud sensor detects changes in density to sniff out studs, cables, and ducts. They are also great for finding out what parts of your wall are danger zones.
However, stud sensors aren’t always right. Never drill more than 1¼ inches deep into the wall — that level is deep enough to clear drywall and plaster, but not deep enough to damage your wires or pipes.
Household wiring runs horizontally from outlet to outlet about 8 inches to 2 feet from the floor, so that’s a no-drill zone. Stay clear of vertical locations above and below wall switches as wiring runs along studs to reach switches.
If you ever need to get to high light fixtures, ceiling fans, wall decorations, or climb onto the roof, ladders are a safer way of getting up high while providing extra stability than a chair or table.
When choosing a ladder, consider:
Check the ladder’s duty rating to find out how much weight it’ll support.
If you live in a multi-story home, get escape ladders for the bedrooms. The Red Cross recommends them.
Even if you’ve never had one before, you’re probably going to need a filing cabinet or small safe now. Documenting everything can only help you down the line.
While much of it may be digital, there are some documents that you may also want to keep hard copies of, such as home loan closing statements, the deed, the title to your car, or tax forms. That’s important stuff, and you’ll need it when it comes time to pay your taxes.
Filing cabinets or safes are also handy for keeping receipts and instruction manuals for appliances, insurance, property tax bills, and any estimates or statements from contractors as you make improvements.
Also, remember to store digital copies of every important document on multiple backup hard drives and cloud storage services for extra security, or in case you lose them in a disaster.
Smart home technology has come a long way in the last few years. Adding a few internet-connected devices can make your life more convenient and give you peace of mind when you’re away from home.
Wi-fi enabled or smart thermostats are a great way to maintain a comfortable temperature in your home without racking up huge bills. If you’re buying a new home, this is a cost-effective investment.
Smart thermostats are one of the few items you can buy for your home that eventually pay for themselves – our top pick for smart thermostats can save you a substantial amount on your energy bills every month.
Moving your valuables is nerve-racking, but if you take proper precautions, you’ll make things easier for yourself. A good method of damage control is creating a valuables inventory and taking photos of each item. Valuables could be anything from an antique dresser to your 70-inch 4K TV.
By taking photos of these items, you have proof of their original condition if they are damaged during the move. No matter how careful your moving company is, accidents can happen, so moving insurance is worth looking into.
Your home inspector should give you a comprehensive report indicating the condition of all the major systems and structural parts of your home. Most homes will have a few dozen items that need attention, and you can use this as a basis for a home improvement plan.
Make some lists: The stuff that’s relatively easy to accomplish — or critical — go on the short-term, right-away list. Make sure there are a few low-hanging-fruit projects on there to help you build momentum! The big plans might have to wait.
A comprehensive list of steps you can take to protect your home and your loved ones.
1. Change of address notifications and set up utilities...