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8 Projects Homeowners Should Tackle In The First Year Of Owning A New Home

5-Minute Read

Maybe you just moved into your forever home. Or maybe you’ve relocated into a starter, one you hope to trade in one day for a bigger, better residence. Whether you’ve moved into a dream home or a fixer-upper, though, there are plenty of modest home-improvement projects, many of them DIY jobs, that you can tackle during your first year of ownership to make your new property an even better fit for you and your family.

Yes, you might not have much extra spending money after the expenses involved in moving and taking out a mortgage. But there are plenty of budget-priced home-improvement projects that provide a boost to your new home without draining your savings.

Here’s a list of home-improvement projects that provide the most return on your dollar. You might be surprised at just how much you can get done during that first year of homeownership, whether your home is large or small.

1. Paint (The Cheap Fix)

Greg Kopf, brand ambassador for Cranbury, New Jersey-based tool and home-improvement retailer TOOLSiD, says that one of the most cost-effective improvements for new homeowners is to freshly coat the walls of their kitchens, living rooms, bedrooms and baths with new paint.

"Painting is an inexpensive project that can be tackled by even the most novice do-it-yourselfer," Kopf says. "Quality paints can last years and the project can be completed over the course of a weekend."

A recommendation? Kopf says that homeowners can paint their home's front door and shutters different colors. This will provide a visually appealing contrast, one that will boost the curb appeal of their new residence.

But really, fresh paint can brighten any part of your new home, from a kitchen that’s painted avocado green to basement walls covered in scuff marks and dings.

2. Safety First: Keeping Your Family Happy And Healthy

Some projects are important to your health. Caleb Liu, owner of Orange, California-based House Simply Sold, says that some simple DIY projects can boost the safety of your new home.

First, Liu says, owners should test their fire alarms, and should do so once a month. They should have a pack of spare 9-volt batteries handy when these alarms start to beep.

Owners should install carbon monoxide detectors throughout their homes, focusing on areas that burn natural gas, such as the kitchen.

Liu recommends, too, that owners replace the air filters for their HVAC systems and furnaces.

"These are designed to trap dust and allergens but become less efficient over time as the airflow becomes restricted," Liu says. "If anyone in your family is allergic to pollen or pet dander, this is a must."

Liu says owners should wear a face mask and use a vacuum with a detachable hose and brush head to clean the filters and surrounding vent area for dust.

Finally, Liu recommends that owners clean the exhaust hoses leading from their home's dryer to the outside. Cleaning this exhaust will provide unobstructed airflow and minimize the pooling of carbon monoxide gas in owners’ laundry rooms, Liu says.

3. Fix Those Gutters And Seal Those Joints: Making Your Home Weathertight

Paul Gleicher, a registered architect and president of New York City-based Gleicher Design - Architecture & Interiors, recommends homeowners make sure their new home is weathertight, meaning it’s protected against rain and wind.

If your home isn't weathertight, water can get into your attic or basement or seep into its foundation. And you'd be surprised at how much damage it can cause.

"Water infiltration can lead to structural damage and health concerns from mold," Gleicher says.

That's why homeowners should replace leaky or damaged roofs, seal the joints of exterior doors and windows and clean and secure all gutters and downspouts. Homeowners should also make sure the grading around the perimeter of their homes pitches away from their foundations.

"While these might not be the most exciting of projects, they will protect the substantial investment in your new home," Gleicher says.

4. Protection From The Top Down: Get That Roof Inspected

A leaky roof can cause plenty of damage to your home fast, too. Just wait until that first big storm hits. New owners, then, should make sure that their roof is in good condition.

James Brandon, owner of Hometown Roofing ATX in Austin, Texas, says that new homeowners should have their roofs inspected by a local professional. The best news? Brandon says that most roofing pros will do this inspection at no charge.

And after the inspection is done, homeowners will know whether their roof can withstand the elements or if it needs immediate repairs.

"The homeowners will know the exact scope and condition their roof is in," Brandon says.

Roofing inspectors will look for holes from hail damage, missing shingles caused by high winds, mold or any signs of animal infestation in a home's attic, Brandon says.

"Knowing these problems the very first year will help new homeowners fix them before they get bad and make their home an uncomfortable place to live," Brandon says.

5. An Inviting Entrance: Paint Your Front Door

Paint can do wonders for the interior of your home. But it can quickly brighten the entrance to your residence, too. A fresh coat of paint can completely transform the look of your front door. If you don't want to spend the money on replacing your home's front door during your first year of ownership, consider instead the budget-friendly compromise of a fresh coat of paint.

6. Time To Recaulk: Brighten Up Your Bathroom

Remodeling a bathroom can cost serious dollars. Freshening one up, though, doesn't have to cost more than a tube of caulk.

Is the caulk in your bathroom discolored or cracked? Then remove it and recaulk. Recaulking around your bathtub, shower or sink can turn a depressing bathroom space into a bright one. Recaulking can also boost your health since old caulk can grow mildew. It can also cause damage to your bathroom by letting water seep behind your shower or bathroom walls.

7. Knock Down Those Utility Bills: Install Energy-Efficient Windows

Lisa Torelli-Sauer, an editor at Sensible Digs, a site devoted to home improvement, said that installing energy-efficient windows can save new homeowners significant money on heating and cooling costs. It costs more to heat or cool a home when air is seeping out of old, drafty windows.

Homeowners who install energy-efficient windows, then, could see an immediate dip in their home energy costs.

And that’s not the only savings new windows can bring. Homeowners might also qualify for a federal tax credit for making this switch, Torelli-Sauer says.

These windows don't just reduce your energy bills, either.

"Energy-efficient windows don't just insulate your home. They can also help protect the items inside," Torelli-Sauer says. "A special glass coating helps protect against ultraviolet waves that can discolor furniture and carpets."

8. Your Home Has An Outside, Too: Growing Your Own Garden

Not all home improvement projects take place indoors. You can make an impact in the great outdoors, too, by tackling some basic gardening work.

Amanda Dunker, chief executive officer of Santa Clara, California-based Avalow, which sells self-watering and fully assembled planters, suggests creating a home garden to help ease the tensions that owners might feel during those first few years of owning a home.

"Renovation can be very stressful and having something that feeds you and provides you with a mental break plus food for your family is an excellent counterbalance to the hectic first year of homeownership," Dunker says.

Building a backyard or front garden doesn't have to be stressful, either, Dunker says. The keys are to water plants enough, but not too much, and to ensure that the soil in your yards is healthy and can hold and drain water.

Whether you’re focusing on vegetables or flowers, a garden can provide a place of refuge in your home. A well-tended one can also boost your home’s curb appeal, making it a pleasant place to drive up to after a long day at work.

Final Thoughts

Ready to tackle any of these projects? Then consider taking out a home improvement personal loan. These loans can help you pay for the home improvement jobs that will make living in your new home an even better experience for you and your family.

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