Getting into good habits during the first year of homeownership will prevent disasters down the road that could cause you to throw up your hands and start renting again.

New Homeowner’s First Year Checklist

We highly recommend creating a home maintenance calendar so you stay on top of all the important tasks involved in owning a house.

Remember Your Home Inspection?

Let’s assume that you scheduled an independent home inspection before buying your new home. Let’s also assume that you accompanied the inspector during the walk through and paid proper attention.

Hopefully, you learned where your main utility shut-off valves are located, how to use the HVAC system properly, and much more. Even if you didn’t attend the home inspection walk through or don’t remember it very well, there’s a lot of very useful information in the inspection report, which you should have handy.

A good home inspection report is full of details about your home and the state of its structural and electromechanical systems. Maintenance, repairs, and solutions to flaws should be noted.

So step one in your first year of homeownership is to review your home inspection report. Create a to-do list of maintenance and repair tasks that are specific to your new home.

No house is perfect and many homeowners spend the first year making many customizations and improvements. Everyone wants a home that suits their tastes and provides security and comfort, but before you start focusing on the things you want, make sure you have the things you need.

Tip: Take the information in your home inspection report and transfer all of the useful information and suggestions for repairs into your home maintenance calendar.

Concentrate on the main home systems:
Plumbing & Septic
Heating, Ventilation & Air Conditioning (HVAC)

It’s also important to pay attention to any potential health and safety hazards, such as structural problems, radon, and pest infestations. Other problems you’ll want to look into are insulation levels, grading, gutters, and drainage.

While major fixes are normally made before the sale, new home buyers are often left with many imperfections they would like corrected. Make sure you focus on the main home systems that you rely on day in and day out first.

If everything looks good with the house, you can put the home inspection report away, but your job’s not over yet. Not by a long shot.

Smoke and CO Detectors

In the first week of owning your new home, make sure you have working smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors on every level of the home.

Smoke alarms should be installed in every bedroom, outside of each sleeping area, and on every level of the home. Ideally, the smoke alarm should be centered on the ceiling.
When shopping for smoke and CO detectors, look for the Underwriters Laboratory (UL) label or a similar independent testing laboratory.
Test smoke and CO alarms monthly by pressing down on the test button.
Smoke and CO batteries should be replaced at least once a year.
Never paint over safety detection devices. Occasionally clean them of dust and cobwebs.
ALL smoke and CO alarms should be replaced every 10 years.
Make sure you have at least 3 working fire extinguishers, at least one on each level.

Learn more about fire, smoke, and carbon monoxide safety.

Purchase Emergency Supply Kit

In the case of emergencies, it’s important to have an emergency supply kit that contains enough for at least 3 days of survival. Consider making two kits, one that you can grab quickly if you need to evacuate and another one with additional supplies, such as canned goods,

Learn how to create your emergency supply kit.

Schedule HVAC Inspection

Regardless of what time of year it is, it’s important to get an early look at your heating and air conditioning system. Do your homework and choose a reputable HVAC company to clean, inspect, and tune-up your HVAC system.

To save money and stay on top of important HVAC maintenance, we highly recommend signing up for a home maintenance plan. For instance, OnTime Service’s Super Service Club offers lifetime warranties on installations, 2 precision tune-ups per year, annual electrical and plumbing inspections, priority service, and more.

Home maintenance plans with the right company easily pays for itself. For a low annual fee, you can ensure safe and proper operation of all of your important home systems.

Homeowner Monthly To-Do List

Test your GFCI and AFCI outlets and breakers for proper operation.
Test all of your smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors by pressing the TEST button.
Check your HVAC air filter. Hold the filter up to the light. Replace it if light cannot pass through easily. We recommend using the highest MERV rating allowable for your unit (usually MERV 7-10) and replacing it every 30-60 days. Clean air filters are the best thing you can do to improve indoor air quality and reduce the need for repairs.
Keep your garbage disposal clean and deodorized by grinding up some ice and citrus wedges once a month.
Inspect your outdoor condenser unit for dirt, lawn clippings, and other debris. Clean your condenser coils with the gentle setting on your garden hose.
To prevent algae buildup and other blogs in your heat pump/air conditioner’s condensate drain line, pour a cup of bleach down the line every month.

Other New Homeowner Tasks:
Install dead bolts on exterior facing doors.
Learn how to childproof your home.
Replace untempered glass with tempered glass for front and back doors.
Schedule a professional chimney sweep and have your fireplace cleaned.
Clean the gutters and point downspouts away from the home.
Speak with a professional about waterproofing solutions.
Contact a fuel company and insurance company for your underground oil tank, if you have one.
Annual Home Checkup

Think of your home inspection report as a constantly evolving document. Save all records of your home maintenance, repairs, and improvements. Reinspect your home for trouble spots every year.

Schedule annual professional maintenance for your plumbing, electrical, HVAC, and fireplace. We highly recommend signing up for a home maintenance plan during the first year of homeownership.

Keep up with maintenance and regular inspections and heed professional opinions. If you are feeling overwhelmed and wondering if you’ve made a big mistake, let OnTime Service guide you.


Contact OnTime Service at 205-942-1405 to schedule your next HVAC, electrical, and plumbing service.