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:: MOVED - Things to Do Once You Are Settled
So, you've finally moved into your house. Congratulations! Now that you've unpacked and are getting a feel for your new surroundings, there are probably some things about your property that you're beginning to realize are not the way you want them. Renovating your first home is a huge but gratifying experience if you do it right. Since new home maintenance is a little less straightforward than renovating a home you've lived in for years, here are a few guidelines to make renovating your first home a success!

New Home Maintenance Checklists
One of the most important factors in new home maintenance is the inspection. In many cases, you probably got a full home inspection before you moved in (and if you haven't, you should have one ASAP!); now is the time to take the list of items that are outdated or worn out and set them straight.

Unless you've specifically purchased a "fixer-upper", new home maintenance is generally comprised of many small, inexpensive tasks that are not extremely pressing. However, when left unaltered, these small tasks can turn into huge repair bills a year or two down the road. Use the list provided by your home inspector as a checklist, and number each task in order of importance. Use your budget to take care of the more pressing matters, and tackle the others when your wallet allows.

Renovating Your First Home: Landscaping and Curb Appeal
Your landscaping is an important part of renovating your first home. Is your yard trim and attractive? Have your trees and shrubs been recently tended? If the answer to either of these questions is "no", they are typically good places to give attention to. Though they are not as pressing as matters concerning faulty plumbing or wiring, tending to your landscaping as soon as you move in will give your neighbors a positive impression and will get the relationships you form in your new neighborhood off to a good start. New home maintenance can get loud, and any crews that you hire for renovations can get in the way of daily life on your block; if you show your neighbors that you care how their block looks, however, they will be more likely to accept these minor annoyances gracefully.
New Home Maintenance: Working Behind the Scenes
The most important aspects of new home maintenance are often hidden behind walls or under floors. While renovating your new home outside is certainly good to do early, it is the systems inside your home that will probably make the most difference in how your home functions. If your home inspection has identified any plumbing or electrical issues, have them attended to immediately. It is also a good idea to have an energy audit once you get your appliances in place; an energy audit will not only identify areas that are wasting energy behind the scenes, it will also allow you to keep your monthly bills as low as possible right from the start.

Renovating Your First Home's Interior
While many new homeowners tend to focus first on the aesthetic changes that will make their house attractive on the inside, these types of changes are actually best left till after everything else has been taken care of. The new coat of paint and hardwood floors you've been imagining ever since you first viewed the property will be fantastic additions, but only after you take care of your insulation, plumbing, wiring, drainage, and HVAC systems. Not only are the less glamorous components of your home more important in a practical sense, skipping over these components can cause serious problems that severely damage or prematurely age the more attractive improvements you were too eager to make. A hardwood floor can be ruined by a leaky roof, and a new paint job won't mean a thing if it starts peeling due to moisture issues! New home maintenance is about function first and form last; if renovating your first home is to be as cost-effective as it is attractive, hold off on the polish until you are sure there's a stable base to perform it on.

Jon Nunan is a freelance writer who draws on his experience in construction, ranging from landscaping to log home building, for his articles on home improvement.
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