Just bought my first house! Unsolicited advice... Um... Solicited.

For those of you with good memories or a creepy fixation on my personal life might recall that I have in fact, started a similar thread in the past. That was a few years ago when we thought we were buying a house but things fell apart before closing.

After licking our wounds, temporarily deciding home ownership wasn’t all that great anyway, then getting back on the horse to find we hated almost every house we looked at… We found a house and closed on Tuesday. It’s ours. I have the keys and everything.

Let’s see. Built in 87 bought from the original owner. 2000 square ft, 2 stories, unfinished basement that doesn’t seem to take on water. 1/3 acre yard. Lots of trees. A wood deck. Gas heat and stove. Central air. It’s nice. It has a lot of wallpaper that will need to come down. And paint that will need to be put up. And carpets that will eventually have to go.

So, having only ever rented, I am actually genuinely looking for advice, but if you have none to give and just want to offer congratulations I will take those too.

I bought a house!


Now what? We move in at the end of the month (our lease in our current place doesn’t end until then and we figured we didn’t want to pay the lease breaking penalty for one month of rent.)

Make sure you have money set aside for repairs. I heard once its like around 5% a year of the homes value. Remember this is just an average. One year its $100 for a plumber. But next year its $20,000 for a new roof.

Are there termites in your area? We do sentricon.


One thing I would recommend is to make an effort to tackle the many home repair issues that come up. At first many things may seem hard and confusing, but the more things you do, the easier things become. Just because you don’t know how to change out a garbage disposal or light switch doesn’t mean you can’t do it. YouTube has endless videos for any task you need to do. Even if you hire a pro, watch some videos so you have an idea of the complexity involved. If you’re ignorant about the effort required, it’s easy to get overcharged by the pros. And be proactive about maintenance issues, especially water problems. Problems almost always get worse and cost more the longer you wait.

And every home-improvement show is a deceptive lie! Never believe them when they say how cheap and easy it is to redo something.

Congratulations! I’m glad you found one you wanted. I gather from what you posted you won’t actually move in until December. If that’s so, I say use the time to get rid of the unwanted wallpaper and to paint. That would be a good start on doing what you want to make it yours. Of course it would also be great if you could replace the carpet before moving in, but that might be more than you can bite off at one time.

I’ll give you one piece of advice. No matter what, you’ll find stuff you wish was different. I built the house I’m living in (well, had it built, because even I wouldn’t want to live in a house I actually built) and even then wished I’d done some things differently. I am in the midst of a remodel. About half of it is done and I am waiting a few months before round two. It is OK to take your time. Not everything has to be done at once. Do what you can deal with and/or afford and deal with the rest as you can.

Again, congrats!


I strongly advise you to establish a file wherein you keep all home maintenance records, especially anything on which you spent money. This will help you to remember what was done when, how old your water heater is, when you had the house painted, when you had the roof done, and so on. It will also help you in the event you ever sell the house, to show to prospective buyers that you have taken good care of it (and when they might expect scheduled maintenance).

Houses are generally money pits, so I recommend saving more than you think you’ll need to take care of emergency repairs.

Along the same lines, you might consider joining Nextdoor if it is available in your area. In my neighborhood there are a lot of recommendations for handymen, plumbers, etc. who are local and possibly more likely to treat you well, you know, like a neighbor.

Speaking of which, if you never did this as a renter, it is a great idea to get to know your neighbors as much as they are willing, and establish friendly relations early. If you are in an area where neighbors watch out for each other, you will find that adds a great deal to your peace of mind and your enjoyment of your property.

If you (ever) have kids or outdoor pets, please be sensitive to your neighbors’ concerns about noise and mess.

Congrats! Just remember it’s yours. If you want pink closets go for it. And you have literally for-ever to do the DYI. Take it slow, develope a pace and slog through it. It can be exciting to finish a job and it looks like you want it to. Otherwise, good luck.

Yes, this is wise.

I’ve lived in the same house for nearly 30 years. After 12 years, the roof needed repairs which cost £11,000. :smack:
On the other hand, I bought it for £60,000 and it’s now valued around £190,000. :cool:

Try to maintain good relations with neighbours (they can keep an eye on the house / take in deliveries etc.)

Keep an eye on your utility bills. I’ve switched several times over the years and saved a lot of money.
Keep an eye on your home insurance. I regularly contact the company when my renewal is due, threaten to switch and then accept an offered reduction.

Do the internal repairs and upgrades before you do any cosmetic work (insulation THEN wallpaper). Otherwise you’ll do the cosmetic work twice.

Live in your house for a while before you decide anything large. You need to find out where the sun shines in the morning so you can put your breakfast table there, where the rain hits the side of the house, and whether you really need more closets. These things take time.

Have fun!

Welcome to the club! We are newish members ourselves. My advice is to not rush anything that isn’t a repair. Get the basics done before you move in (paint, remove wallpaper, etc.) then let the house tell you what goes where and what it needs to be yours. Built in 87 means it definitely is going to need a total termite inspection. Don’t let them get away with spraying. Tent it.

Again, congrats! It’s a great feeling to know that you’ll never again have money you don’t know what to do with.


Wait at least a full year before deciding to finish any part of the basement. If you use the basement for storage, use plastic or metal shelving unit that get things off the ground or use pallets on bricks.

Have you removed wallpaper before? I hope the wallpaper is over primer or paint and not directly on the sheetrock. That happened to us in our first home. A very nasty surprise.

What’s under the carpet? Hardwood or plywood? If plywood, give it a good scrubbing with some bleach before laying down the new carpet.

Keep an eye on that deck. Consider retreating every other year as it can last for decades doing that.

**Ask a lot of questions **and remember a lot of DIY stuff has great videos on YouTube available. Start buying more tools and stock up on some basic hardware. Unfinished basements make awesome workshops.

What brand are the circuit breakers? The furnace? The Central Air unit? Cheaper breakers nay start breaking down after 30 years or even 20 years to be honest. If you know anyone with an IR camera or goggles, borrow and see if any circuits are running hot.

who the hell decided that wallpaper directly went on the sheetrock…id ask my carpenter relatives if its been done before but afraid ill get smacked for that one …. that’s a new one ……and believe me ive listened to tons “dumbest and weirdest things done to or found in house” bull sessions
worst one was the kittens who got stuck in a vent in an condemned house ………

Cheap builders pull this one.

I can’t really think of anything that hasn’t been mentioned already, so I’ll pass along the advice my real estate agent gave me when I bought my house: buy the biggest refrigerator you can possibly afford.

Yesyesyesyesyesyesyes!!! Also this:

Haha! I just pasted the same thing again cuz it’s so important!

Don’t do a thing with that basement til you know for sure it’s dry. I’d give it 2 years at least. Do you have a sump crock and a sump pump? You need them. And a backup sump pump. And you need to have your foundation waterproofed if it’s not already. And get your downspouts routed to the ditch.

There is nothing that has made me feel more sad and helpless than fighting water in my basement. It was all “waterproofed” before I moved in, but it had been neglected for years and the walls had water damage. Then a weeping tile broke and the whole system got messed up and I got water in the wall again, so I had to have that fixed. I had to have the sump pump discharge pipe replaced, inside and out. I had to have my own backup installed. I had to have several blown sump pumps replaced. The gardening around my foundation played into my basement’s health. Even the pitch of the front patio had to be tended to to avoid water problems. I’ve had the place mold remediated. I have a 24/7 dehumidifier.

It’s actually quite nice now, and all the stuff above has happened over 13 years (today, actually! I moved in 10/31/05) but you can’t let your damn guard down. Don’t blink - water is trying to come in to your basement RIGHT NOW! :smiley:

Or not, maybe it’s just me. But yes, give it a year at least. Or more. Don’t go planning that full-tilt dry living space just yet.

Oh and uh - congrats! Very exciting for you!!

My advice is to make a list of things you’d like to do, and pick one every time you finish the last one. You don’t need to rush through them, but keep working. I have put things off more than once until I was ready to sell. Then I did those things I’d been meaning to do, and the place looked very nice, and I kicked myself. You may as well be the people who get the benefit from your work.

Also, nothing you do is permanent. Don’t expect perfection and enjoy the journey.

Congratulations! I’ve been a homeowner for over 30 years, and the advice so far is good.
Definitely learn how to do small repairs yourself. Besides saving money, you will get a lot of satisfaction from fixing something. I don’t know what you’ll see, but my number one type of repair job is the toilet. Toilet parts are very cheap, plumber visits are very expensive, so learn what parts your toilet uses and find them at the hardware store.
Which you will be visiting frequently. Trust me.
Find a place to set up a workbench and storage for tools and parts like screws. After 22 years in this house I can find just about any screw or nail I need in my parts drawers. Get A small cabinet (no more than a foot high) with lots of drawers for random nails and screws. If you take something apart, save the pieces, just in case. You’ll find you’ll need to buy 10 pieces of something when you need 2, so save the rest.
One day the rod holding up the hangers and clothes in my wife’s closet pulled out, and I was able to fix it without a single hardware store visit. Still is fine 10 years later.
Oh, and yet another reason to wait on the basement is that you should see if you really need a finished basement. It might look like a great idea, but when you do it you might find you spend all your time upstairs anyway. You’ll know in a year.

My only advice is, don’t let repairs/maintenance issues build up.

Knock out every little job while it’s still “one little job” and your life will be easier.

Congrats. Buying our first house was both exciting and stomachache inducing.


  • change all the external locks in your house. Hire a locksmith to come out and rekey them all to the same key. The house seller may have been a sweet heart, but who know how many people have keys.
  • if you have a garage door opener, figure out how to change the code on that one too. Instructions should be available online, and fairly simple.
  • when you move, put only the stuff you use and are sure of a location for, into the house at first. Stack the rest in the basement or the garage. It’s so much easier to organize a room, when you don’t have towering piles of boxes. The Easter decorations can stay tucked away for a bit longer.

And finally, go put a nail into the wall of your new house, and hang a picture on it. You own it now (or will soon), you can put those nails any darn place you want to.

Congrats! Lots of good advice here!

Best advice I can offer is: DON’T BUY CHEAP TOOLS!!! You don’t need to buy Snap-On, but you definitely don’t want bargain bin Made-In-China flimsy stuff that won’t last thru the first job. My dad used to buy cheap tools, and when he died, he left behind tons of crappy tools that we just tossed. My husband, on the other hand, buys good quality, and the difference is amazing. I grew up using crap tools, and using good stuff now is just a pleasure!

Also, fix up your house the way you like it. Ignore those who spout “resale” unless you intend to move in 4 or 5 years. We had one place we did all neutral and we hated it. But then we moved after 3 years, so it worked out after all. Still, if you intend to live there a long time, make it what you want! Enjoy!!

I cannot emphasize this enough: Before you make any changes to your house, notify the City’s Building Department. If they find out later that you made any unauthorized repairs and/or changes and did not notify them first, they tack in daily fines and can make your life a living hell.