It’s rough being a first-time home buyer. You probably just spent more money than you ever had on anything in your life, and that was just the down payment. Closing costs and the many fees that go along with purchasing a home can leave you reeling if you haven’t been through the whole rigamarole before. And, to add insult to injury, just when you finally are handed the keys to your new front door, take all weekend to move the boxes in, and are ready to collapse… there turns out to be a bunch of unexpected home maintenance costs that knock you off your feet.

If you are in the midst of the home-buying process, ’tis better to know what to expect than be blindsided when you are quite possibly at your brokest. Read on to find out about some of the maintenance costs that you will face almost as soon as you move in, if not even before!

Changing the locks

This should be the very first thing you do when you get the keys to your new home, before you even move a single box inside or carry your sweetheart over the threshold. Re-key the locks, for goodness’ sake! After all, you never know who else might have had a key to the house besides the ones given to you by the former owners, and you don’t want a stranger to be capable of waltzing into your living room to help themselves to your valuables! This is a pretty basic job for DIY homeowners, but if it’s your first time you might want to enlist the help of a more experienced friend/family member or even hire a locksmith.

Maintaining your HVAC system

HVAC systems – even brand new ones! – should have twice-yearly maintenance done to them. You can get a plan with a local specialist that calls YOU to schedule these visits when it is time (this is the route I’d recommend, personally), or you can simply mark it on your calendar. But the HVAC should be serviced when you first buy the home and move in. This can help prolong the life of older systems and save on costly repairs later that could have been staved off by appropriate maintenance.

Cleaning the fireplace and chimney

This won’t be applicable to every new homeowner, of course, but if you are the proud new owner of a fireplace, you are going to want to call a specialist and schedule a cleaning very soon after you get everything unpacked – and definitely before you light your first cozy fire on a chilly night. You don’t want your entire living room filling with tarry black smoke, do you? Because that’s the kind of thing that happens when a fireplace hasn’t been tended appropriately. You have no idea what’s up there or how long it has been since the chimney was properly attended to. As a bonus, the cleaner can share helpful tips with you, like how to open and close the flue and what sort of firewood is best for your particular setup.

A fire extinguisher for (at least) the kitchen

Fire safety is no joke. You will want to make sure that the fire alarm has fresh batteries when you move in, and mark it down on your calendar when it’s time to change them. Many people use Daylight Savings Time starting and ending to mark the appropriate time, but it really can be just every six months if you keep track. You want to make sure that you have enough fire alarms and that they all are working. Additionally, you will want to have at least one fire extinguisher in the house. They can be a little costly, so if you can only spring for one, put it in the kitchen.

Tree trimming

Trees may look beautiful, but they can prove to be a real pain in the butt once you are the one responsible for them. Your homeowner’s insurance company may require you to trim any overhanging limbs or chop down trees that appear to be dead and therefore a falling hazard. When you get into dealing with arborists you will discover that trimming and/or removing trees is an EXPENSIVE proposition. Still, you don’t want a rogue branch coming through your window during a winter storm, so suck it up and make sure the recommendations are carried out.

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