Nothing catastrophic happened, but we ended up having to replace the entire furnace and chimney liner 2 months after moving in… our inspector suggested that we bring in a specialist to look at them, but the sellers were rushing the timeline.
If I were doing it again knowing what I know now, I would have either insisted or demanded a $5k credit to budget for replacing the furnace if they didn’t want it to undergo inspection.
Budget around 1k a year for tree maintenance. The cost of tree maintenance can go up significantly as they get taller, so something that may have cost 1k right now might cost 10k three years from now.
I once did a renovation on a house that was built in 1894. The owner greatly miscalculated how much work it would take to renovate it after he dropped the first drywalled ceiling only to find 2 more drywall ceilings above it, then 2 layers of plaster and lathe including the original. All told we took about… 20 yard bins worth of demolition waste out of his house.
Once you are in contract/closed, stay on top of your escrow, people. I just finished buying my first house, and other than the seller being totally checked out, the process was pretty smooth from start to finish. Except escrow, OMG. I had to chase down receipts for my payments, double check their numbers, make them stop pushing and let me read the papers I was signing.
Then after closing, I found out that not only did they “forget” to notify my new HOA property management that I’d closed, but 6 weeks after closing I got a notice my homeowner’s insurance was about to be cancelled because escrow sent the check, it got returned as a “bad address” and they… did nothing. Didn’t notify me, or my real estate agent, or anyone at all involved in the transaction. Fortunately my mortgage broker is awesome, and so they are chasing down escrow to fix the insurance.
Check for cell signal. My house is a black hole, and it’s frustrating.
A hot water heater needs to be flushed every 12 months.
This was a $3000 lesson for me.
Watch out for water and run-off. I’ve had clogged gutters turn into a several thousand dollar repair because we didn’t pay attention to the overflow dripping down the side of a wood support beam. I’ve also had the lack of gutters on a house result in significant soil erosion near the foundation, leading to unnecessary settling. In both cases paying attention to what the water around my house was doing would have saved a lot of heartache.
Talk to your plumber about a sewer check valve. Sewage backups are rare, but depending on the layout of your plumbing it might be a reasonable price for the peace of mind it offers. This actually happened to me. Thankfully my sewage line has an open vent pipe in the yard (I don’t think this is up to code anymore, but my house is old), and rather then enter the house the sewage simply spewed from the pipe until the town fixed the sewage main. A sewage puddle in the yard was bad but had it been in the house it would have been 100 times worse.
Thoroughly clean your house and keep up with external cleanliness. Why? It’s amazing how fast you can catch minor repairs while cleaning. With my old house I failed to notice the leaking water heater because we didn’t clean the garage, or the fence and retaining wall that was rotting, or the water stains that were forming around our ceiling (roof leak) and under the basins, or when the floor began to bubble…you get the picture.
Change the locks in your house. Came home to a neighbor in my house a week after we moved in. The previous owners had let him have a spare key and never taken it back. After the police came and we made sure he hadn’t taken anything I told him to never come back. He has since proved himself to be a pretty decent neighbor but I will never ever ever ever ever trust him and we have a much beefier security system in place now.
When I got a house, I severely underestimated the cost of bringing it to a “ready to live in” state.
I mean, when I moved it, it was ready to live in, of course, but little things like adding a light to a closet or installing a ceiling fan… it really added up. Plan ahead. The bigger TV for the bigger room is the last thing you need. Make a budget for your upgrades/repairs, and don’t let yourself fall into the “I need this done at move in to be happy” mindset. A floor fan is just as sufficient as a ceiling fan for a few months.
When you live in a rental or an apartment, you tend to not have lots of things you need to own a house, like:
Ladder(s). Standing on a chair to change the smoke detector worked fine in the apartment, but in a house roofs are often higher and you usually have more stuff to do up high because maintenance is on you. You’ll need a good ladder, eventually.
Tools. Every project you take on will need a different tool. Get some basics at move in, but plan on getting some more with time.
Garden supplies. Hose, shovel, rake, pruning supplies. These add up.
Good news is a lot of this is easy to get used in fine condition. Pawn shops, garage sales, etc. Start looking now, before you move in. And be patient to maximize savings. A shovel will be $3 at a Garage Sale and $25 at Home Depot. A hedge trimmer could be $150 at Home Depot and $10 at a Garage Sale or $40 at a Pawn Shop. Take a friend/family member who is a homeowner to help you get these things. And rent tools when you can.