Phew! It's taken months of planning and mountains of paperwork, but you're finally moving into a home of your very own. Home improvement experts often advise that you save major remodels till after you've lived in your new house for a while, so you'll have time to notice all the things you'd like to change -- for instance, awkward traffic patterns or scanty cupboard space. However, the following seven improvements should be tackled as soon as you move in.
Hang curtains or blinds. Installing window treatments is an inexpensive quick fix that gives you a lot of bang for your home improvement buck. Not only will you have instant privacy, there's something about hanging curtains or blinds that jumpstarts the transformation of your empty house into a cozy home. Choose a thermal window treatment and you can even begin saving on your new residence's heating and cooling bills as of day one.
Change the locks -- or the actual doors. You never know how many relatives, friends, or passing strangers your home sweet home's former owner gave keys to. Change the locks ASAP or better yet, change the door itself. Updated entry doors are relatively inexpensive, yet add immeasurably to the sense of welcome you get as you drive up to your new abode. They also offer one of the best ROIs of any home improvement, if you're planning to resell within the next few years. Ditto for new garage doors.
Childproof. Your house is probably your most costly possession, but your children are infinitely more precious. Make the new home a safe environment for them to grow up in with careful childproofing. Install gates for your stairs and locks on your cabinets, drawers, and toilets. Any electrical outlets within Junior's reach should be capped or replaced with tamper-resistant receptacles.
Fix plumbing leaks. Some leaks may be obvious (such as a dripping faucet or a toilet that keeps running long after it's been flushed); others not so much. Find out fast whether you have any worries in this department by checking your water meter. Ask everyone in your family to avoid using the water for a couple of hours. If the reading has changed by the end of that period, it's time to call a plumber.
Lubricate the stem of your main water shut-off valve. Of course, this means that first you'll have to find the shut-off … which is a good thing. We wouldn't wish it on our worst enemy, but you may find yourself someday with a household flood on your hands. Trust us; you will not want to waste time trying to figure out where this little device is located. You will, however, want to make sure that the valve is easy to turn, which is the reason for the lubrication. If it is still stuck, do yourself a favor and replace the valve now.
Check your electrical panel. Find out the area that each circuit breaker controls and label it accordingly, if the seller did not already do so. The main breaker, which controls the electrical supply to your entire house, may be outside next to the electric meter. When you've got a remodeling project in the works, like a room addition or a home theater, you might need to upgrade your electrical panel; electricians recommend 200 or even 400 amps for today's homes.
Get rid of eyesores. Beauty is in the eye of the beholder, and it's highly likely that the old and new owners of a home may not see eye to eye about what makes said home beautiful. Do you feel like you just can't live with the seller's beloved popcorn ceilings or oversized wall mural? Then paint, scrape, do whatever's necessary to get rid of them. It's your home now, and you deserve to love it.
-- Laura Firszt writes for networx.com.