Here's what you need to know about each!
1. Homeowners Insurance
Many homeowners are poorly educated when it comes to homeowners insurance. They don’t have a clue what their policy covers (or doesn’t) and they don’t know if they have enough coverage to have peace of mind in case disaster does strike.
What a homeowners insurance policy doesn’t cover
Homeowners often fail to realize that a basic homeowners insurance policy does not cover certain things which many expect to be covered. For example: earthquakes, floods, landslides, power failures, wars, nuclear hazards, poor repairs, and more are not covered by a basic homeowners insurance policy. Living in a high risk tornado, hurricane, flood, or earthquake area almost guarantees that this will not be included in your general homeowners insurance policy. In order to obtain coverage for these natural disasters you would have to purchase a separate insurance policy. This is a very important factor to discuss with your insurance agent as soon as you purchase a house.
What a homeowners insurance policy does cover
A homeowners insurance policy covers the damage your property sustains from storms (not all), fires, vandalism, and theft. A basic homeowners insurance policy also covers liability costs for in case someone gets injured on your property and takes legal action. Your personal belongings are also covered under your homeowners insurance policy in case of fire, theft, vandalism, or certain storms.
Did you know: If some of your belongings are lost or stolen (out of your car, in the airport, while traveling) your homeowners insurance policy might cover it. The possessions your homeowners insurance policy covers, it covers anywhere they are with you. Check with your insurance agent if this is true for your policy.
Market Value or Replacement Cost
Various insurance policies cover your home either under market value or replacement cost. Market Value is the value of your home on the market in the condition that it is in (which may be much lower than the cost you will have to face to rebuild it after a loss). Replacement cost is the amount it would take to completely rebuild your home to the condition it was in prior to the loss. Generally a replacement cost policy will be more expensive as it will most often guarantee a higher payout in an event of a loss.
2. Main Water Shut off Valve
Knowing where the main water shut off valve is located in your home is very important, almost as important as knowing where your electric breaker panel is. Trying to locate it or figure out how to turn it off during an emergency will not be a pleasant experience.
Generally the main shut off valve is located a few feet away from where the main water supply enters the home or near the water heater or kitchen sink. Depending on the type of home you have and if you have a basement, no basement but crawlspace, or slab construction the valve may be placed in different locations.
Ensure that you know where your water shut off valve is located and know how to use it in case an emergency comes along.
3. Annual inspections and maintenance
Professionals and contractors from various industries recommend that every homeowner should perform an annual inspection to ensure that all preventative measures are taken to prevent expensive break downs at the most inconvenient times. We found a wonderful comprehensive list of home maintenance items as well as inspection areas that every homeowner should perform annually.
4. Their Own Mortgage
Fun Fact: 35% of homeowners don’t know their own mortgage rate
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It’s a shocking statistic but if 35% of homeowners don't actually know their own interest rate on their mortgage what does that say about their knowledge of other aspects of their mortgage? Majority of homeowners in the US do not have adequate knowledge on the details and must know facts of their mortgages.
Here’s a tip: careful go over the details of your mortgage right now. You still have all of your paperwork that you signed (hopefully). Read it carefully, know the terms of your mortgage, the length, interest rates, possible changes, clauses, and etc. The things you don’t understand or don’t know enough about: highlight and look it up.
If you are in the process of purchasing a new home make sure that you are well informed concerning the details of the loan you have been approved for, if not, ask your lender before jumping into a 15 or 30 year commitment.
5. Exterior upkeep
The exterior of your home takes the biggest hit day to day. Fierce temperatures (both cold & hot), humidity and moistures, wind & dust, dryness, and more. All of these elements significantly damage the exterior of your home. Just take a minute and imagine what your home goes through in one year? Personally I’m surprised the paint isn’t peeling off and the roof shingles still do their job. Nonetheless it is important to perform regular maintenance on the exterior of your home to ensure that everything is in good working condition.
6. Importance of safety devices
This one is a no brainer… yet many homeowners seem to not care about the safety of themselves, their families, or their home. Safety devices are very important, and should not be neglected.
These are a must…
- Please purchase a fire extinguisher and make sure that it is always in good operating condition
- Please ensure your fire alarms are working (replace batteries as soon as needed)
- Get a carbon monoxide alarm if you don’t have one yet
These next few aren’t a must but sure are convenient...
- Motion Detector Lights will help prevent against theft, and it doesn’t have to be on 24/7 either.
- If you can afford it and can justify the expense consider purchasing a home alarm system or at least one of this nifty nest cams. The nest cam is an inexpensive network camera that is on 24/7 giving you live video and top of the line security.
7. Basic DIY knowledge
We aren’t here to bash on your lack of knowledge as a homeowner but we would like to point out the areas that you may need help in or learn more about.
The final thing most homeowners completely ignore is basic Do It Yourself Knowledge. Whatever happened to the days of fixing small issues around the house oneself? You don’t have to be an expert in everything and be the guy/gal that takes on huge home improvement projects refusing to ever hire a contractor. You can although learn basic knowledge and be able to take care of a missing shingle, dented wall, leaking pipe, or broken door handle.
Calling a handyman every time something comes up is expensive and time consuming. Knowing how to take care of small mishaps oneself will help a ton.
That's it... we hope you enjoyed this post and hope that it was helpful to you. If so please consider sharing it with your friends and family as well as subscribing to our newsletter. If you would like to receive more Home Improvement Tips and Tricks consider subscribing to our Home Improvement Journal called PDXPRO. We recently started this and are eager to make it a valuable resource to homeowners all over Portland.