The first real and practical question that we ask ourselves when buying a new home is “how much is it?”. Rightfully so, since it’s absolutely necessary to know whether we can afford it. But finding, moving to and maintaining a new home is a longer list than just its price. To help fresh settlers, new couples and families upgrading from renting to owning, here’s our comprehensive New Home Checklist.
WHAT TO LOOK FOR
Build or buy. If you are familiar with home construction and has particular requirements for the structure, then building is a good option. But if you want to avoid the wait and the hassles of constructing one, buying a fairly new home is best for you.
Lifestyle. If you maintain a fitness routine that requires a bit of running, swimming, look for a home that has a decent and safe park and club pool nearby. If you’ve converted to purely organic food, then best to find a home with weekend markets for local growers. But if your priority is proximity to your children’s school, best to find a home where your children can commute or walk their way home.
Rooms. Aside from the number of rooms, think about sharing and conversions. Consider who can share bathrooms, bedrooms and until when can they do that. The number of rooms you require now vs the future, like as the kids grow older, play room will be converted to a study room or the office will be turned into an entertainment room.
Size and floor plan. It’s also important to know and determine the size of the home, size of each room and its floor plan and whether it suits your family and your lifestyle. Where the bathrooms are located vs. the bedrooms, whether the toilet is facing the dining table, if the laundry room has sufficient room or makes it easy to dry clothes outside if necessary – these are just some of the things you should consider.
Amount of natural light. Many new home owners underestimate the value of natural light in the home. It affects the body clock, mood, energy of those living in that home, as well as the activities that can be done in-home. Ensure that there is sufficient natural light coming in the house, not blocked by other buildings or homes.
Indoor-outdoor flow. The flow of people coming in and out of the house matters not only in terms of traffic management, but also for convenience, efficient use of space and cleanliness. If there are only 2 doors in and out of the house, what rooms should you place near each one? Let’s say, dirty kitchen and laundry room towards the back door for people living in the house and will require lots of mobility. Living room near the front but must be of some distance from bedrooms especially if you’re the type who welcome guests often.
Parking. Some newly built homes forget the importance of sufficient parking leaving new owners with just the street parking. If you plan to add a car in the near future, best to buy a home with at least 2 parking slots within the property.
Hazards. All Filipinos know this. The tendency for floods is usually the first thing we check, if not in the property or in front of it, at least around the area. If there are flooding around the area, determine how you can go home in case of floods. Research and ask around whether the property lies or near the fault lines, as well as incidence of road accidents and extreme traffic.
Inspection. Inspect that all electrical wirings are secure and that all sockets are working, as well as the water system – faucets, toilets, sink, etc. Determine the amount of repair work needed prior to buying the property. Check the ceiling and walls for lumps and cracks. The roof also has to be in good condition to withstand our erratic weather. Inspect the community around as well for security, usual activities that goes on in a day and the traffic condition. Also, ask about the history of the property such as untoward incidences of the previous owners. If you are near a strip of restaurants, expect that there will be some noise during lunch and late at night. If you are near a church, expect patrons to park near or in front of your home.
Documentation. Ensure that there is sufficient documentation of the property’s construction, ownership, permits for its location, height and other expansions.
Other costs. Ask about loan charges, taxes, cost of repair and other items that may affect the total value of the home and how it fits your budget.
WHAT TO DO WHEN MOVING IN
Change the locks. This is absolutely necessary to ensure that you and your family are the only ones who can enter the home.
Check safety features. Determine where to exit in case of emergencies, where to go in the community if an earthquake strikes, where you can put fire extinguishers and emergency lights, if there are CCTVs in the neighborhood, if there are security guards or barangay security in the area.
Map out the area. Drive or walk around to find the nearest store, gas station, clinic or hospital, bank, mall or entertainment complex, day care, car wash, restaurants, fire station and police station.
Store Important documents. Find a safe and least hazardous place to store your personal and the property’s documents. It must be a place where you can retrieve the documents easily in case of emergencies.
Regular routine. Unpack the things that help with your routine like coffee maker, key holders, toiletries and basic cooking appliances.
Review Homeowners Association Regulations. Find out the rules for renovations, decorations, if you are allowed to dry clothes outside, where you can walk your pets, etc.
Get to Know Your Neighborhood. Introducing yourself to your neighbors is not just a courteous gesture but also helps you feel safe, you can create playdates for the kids, who you can go to for emergencies,
Start with closet. When unpacking your things, start with your clothes and place them properly in the closet. This way, you don’t have to rummage through a pile of boxes to get ready for work if you are still not done settling down.
WHAT TO DO TO SAVE MONEY
Drying clothes. Many washing machines can do washing, rinsing and drying for you. While it is undoubtedly convenient, it also spends a lot of energy. If you have the time to do it, hang bigger items to dry (i.e. jackets, bedsheets, blankets, curtains, etc.) to save energy cost.
Install LED light bulbs. LED is more expensive than typical light bulbs but lasts much longer (years longer) and uses up less energy therefore, are more cost effective. It is best to install these in rooms that are frequented by the family and will require proper lighting for hours like the living room, kitchen and outdoor lights.
Energy efficient appliances. They are more expensive but you have to think convenience, reliability, energy efficiency and therefore, cost effectivity. These appliances usually last longer and consume the least energy versus more affordable versions that need to be replaced after just a few years and swallow a lot of energy.
Plant trees near your house. Trees help give you shade during the summer and bring cooler air. It is also helpful in absorbing rain water to lessen floods.
Property insurance. There just so much you can do to make sure you, your family and your home are safe. But for things you cannot control like strong earthquakes, fire, bursting of water tanks or pipes or burglary, your best weapon is an insurance policy to help you get back on your feet – for repair, medical assistance, etc. Malayan Insurance’s Home Protect Plus is the most comprehensive home insurance in the country. You can enter your home’s details here so we can give you an initial quotation to start.
WHAT TO DO TO MAINTAIN IT
Mark cracks. Cover a crack on walls, floors or ceiling with a masking tape and indicate the date. If the crack grows past the masking tape and it’s definitely something you should have fixed. If it grows further and you ignore it, it may be a more expensive problem.
Repainting. Take note of the life span of the paint inside and outside your home’s structures and repaint as per contractor’s recommendations before it starts looking old. Ask about best practices in cleaning painted walls, ceiling, tiles, wooden floors and roof to prolong the life of the paint.
Keep soil away. Keep soil and plans at least 6 to 8 inches away from the outer walls. Use gravel to outline the house instead.
Home maintenance checklist. Just like any responsible owner, you have to look after your home regularly and in detail.
Bring this with you when you start house hunting and try to tick-off each item in the checklist. When you get your home, there’s one more thing you shouldn’t forget: Insure your home! #InsuretobeSure. Bookmark Home Protect Plus, enter your new property’s details and get an insurance quotation and consultation for FREE. Do you have other tips that budding home owners should keep in mind? Let us know by contacting us.
Written by Kristina Relampagos