You’ve bought a home! Woo-hoo! Now what? Well, you move in, throw a party, and bask in the joy of home ownership until something breaks, which is usually about a week later… With that in mind you should beef up your homeownership skills before you buy, or at least as soon as you move in. Here is a list of some basic handy skills to get under your belt.
You don’t have to know how to install a septic tank or re-plumb your basement, but you should know how to:
- Unclog a toilet.
- Unclog a sink.
- Fix a running or leaking toilet.
- Shut off the main water main in the house (and be able to find it).
- Know what to do if your pipes freeze.
- Thaw frozen pipes without causing them to burst.
- Replace the washers in a water faucet assembly.
- Remove and replace your U-joint on any sink (for when you drop your ring or whatever down the drain).
- Replace a toilet, for those times when, you know, you crack it or break it learning to fix it. It’s not as hard as it looks. It’s really not.
People who have never picked up a screwdriver in their lives have gone on to build tiny homes from scratch, learning as they go. So yes, you can learn to patch drywall, refinish a deck, and do minor (or even major) repairs inside your home. There are dozens of websites and YouTube videos that will show you how. Always remember – it’s okay to try and fail. That’s how everyone learns. Here are some carpentry basics to get under your belt:
- Know the difference between a regular, Phillips and Torx-head screwdriver.
- Know how to cut wood on a chop saw as well as circular and/or jig saw.
- Know how to use a hammer properly.
- Know how to patch drywall.
- Know how and when to change the blades on a circular saw.
- Know how to use a jigsaw.
- Know the difference between a load bearing wall, and a non-load bearing wall.
- Know the difference between pressure treated Lumber and lumber that’s not treated.
- Know when a project is more than you can handle with your skill set and might get you injured, killed or spark the flames that lead to divorce vs. when a project is just big enough to push you to learn you can do more than you imagined.
Unless you are flush enough to hire a lawn service, chances are that you’ll end up doing at least half, if not all the yard work, maintenance, and gardening yourself at your new home. Having a “black thumb” is easily remedied and no excuse for not planting things. Therefore, you should know:
- The difference between annuals and perennials.
- How to plant a tree so it lives.
- How and when to prune plants and trees.
- How to rake a yard without destroying your back or arms.
- How to compost.
- Everything and then some about mulching.
- When and how to plant bulbs.
- What to do with the grass clippings, leaves, and dead tree limbs.
House Maintenance Skills
You may or may not have grown up in a home where your parents put you to work with home maintenance. Either way, as a homeowner it’s important that you know where all the main shut-offs are for water, gas, and electrical. This means the shut-off by the street, the electric meter, and the gas meter if you have gas. The best way to learn their locations is to ask a representative to show you when/if you get the services turned on after you close. If they do this remotely, call and ask for someone to come out and walk you through the process. You’ll appreciate this when your pipes burst in the middle of the night, or you wake up and smell gas, or the power is off and you know you paid the utility bill.
- Know how, when and why to shut off your main water, electrical or gas services at their main source.
- Know how to weather-proof your home.
- Know how to set up and conduct monthly, yearly and seasonal maintenance tasks, like draining and insulating your garden or outdoor faucets, replacing batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors (you do have them, right?)
- Know how to safely clean out your rain gutters.
- Know how to safely attach and remove Christmas tree or ornamental lights and where NOT to attach them.
- Know how to remove limbs from your roof.
- Know how to inspect your roof.
- Know the phone number for a reputable and professional chimney sweep.
- Know how to clean and properly dispose of fireplace ashes.
There are hundreds, if not thousands of skills you’ll need to learn as a homeowner. Take it one step at a time and enjoy the experience. You’ll save money, learn your home better, and have a greater appreciation for the pros when you’ve attempted a repair or remodel yourself!
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