Getting Settled: Must-Do's For The First Week In A New Home

Moving boxes in a common room.

First time homebuyers can capitalize on the energy of moving day to get settled in their new home.

You did it! The day has finally come to move into your first home! After the excitement and pandemonium of moving day has passed, it's time to get settled in your new home. Here are a few things you'll want to tackle during the first week to cement your status as a homeowner.

First Time Homebuyer Must-Do's For the First Week

Buying a newly constructed home has loads of benefits, none of which makes the move-in process easier! First-time buyers can get into their new home faster when they don't have to wait for carpets to be shampooed or take the time to do a deep cleaning of the home prior to move in day. Still, there's work to be done, even in new homes, and that's what the first week is all about.  

Set Up Utilities and Services.
You probably scheduled water, sewer, and electric services to be set up around your closing day and hopefully you've got water and power when you move in. Now is the time to think about the other services you'll need like cable, Wi-Fi, phone service, garbage pickup, and maybe lawn care services or home security system services. 

Change Your Address. Change your address with the U.S. Postal Service to have your mail forwarded to the new address. That way you're certain to get all of your mail, even from organizations you may have forgotten to inform of your address change. Be sure to notify your home and auto insurer about your address change as well as your employer, credit card companies, banks and lenders, and any other service providers from whom you receive bills or communications such as cell phone providers, attorneys, doctors, etc.

Get To Know Your Home. As a new home owner, it's vital that you become familiar with the inner workings of your home. Take some time during that first week to learn where the circuit box is and how to turn the breakers off. Do the same with water shut off valves. You'll find shut off valves where the main water line comes into the house, but there will also be shut off valves near every plumbing appliance – the washer, dishwasher, toilets and sinks, showers, and external spigots. Learn where these valves are located so you can easily find them and turn them off in an emergency.

Think Safety. Make sure all of the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide monitors are installed and functioning. You should also discuss with your builder what kind of locks were used on the home during construction. If construction locks were used, they should have been keyed just before the closing and you'll have the only copies of that key. If construction locks were not used, you should consider replacing or rekeying the locks; there's no telling who still has a key to your house. 

Compile Paperwork. Homeownership comes with a lot of paperwork. No doubt you were surprised by the packet you took home after the closing. That never changes. Start off on the right foot by creating a safe space to store all of your important documents. This includes the closing documents as well as any appliance warranties and owners' manuals you may have been given by the builder. "It's smart planning to know how long your warranty is on everything in your home and to know what to expect in terms of the lifespan of each appliance," says Marianne Cusato, a housing expert with HomeAdvisor and a professor at University of Notre Dame in South Bend, Ind. 

Review HOA Guidelines. If you've moved into a community that has a Homeowners Association (HOA), you should have received an information packet containing HOA rules. Look through this as it will list out what you can and can't do to your home or yard and where HOA responsibility ends and yours begins.

Go Shopping. New homes need a lot of stuff and first time buyers usually don't have these items to bring with them when they move in. Depending on the home's location and the season, you may need to invest very quickly in a lawn mower, garden hoses, rakes, shovels, snow blowers, etc. You also might want to purchase a grill, plants, home décor items, and tools right away. 

Explore The Neighborhood. Don't forget to take a break from unpacking and organizing to get out and explore the neighborhood. Introduce yourself to the neighbors, figure out where the nearest grocery store is, map out your route to work, and start researching service providers and professionals like plumbers, handymen, and doctors. "Collect emergency information for the fridge — know the address and phone numbers of the nearest hospital, police station and fire station," suggests Marc Jungers, president of Houston-based Grand View Builders.

Many people take some time off after a move to unpack and settle in. Use this time wisely to schedule service installs and become familiar with your new home before you go back to work and become distracted by your daily routine. The first week is also a great time to start planning a housewarming party. Having a party on the horizon is the perfect way to keep you on task with unpacking and organizing so everything is just perfect when your friends and family come over to gush about your new home!
Sarah Kinbar is a freelance writer and editor for leading print and online publications. Formerly editor in chief of Garden Design, she has also written and edited for Cottage Living, Modern magazine and Orlando Arts. You can find her on Google+.

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