First time home owner - any tips?

Soldato
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1 Dec 2006
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Amsterdam, NL
Not looking for advice on mortgage or the buying stage in general. I'm looking for advice or any tips post purchase.

My wife and I are coming to the final stages of purchase of a house here in the Netherlands, our realtor and mortgage advisors have that area covered. I'm just looking for any tips that people might over look post day 1.
 
Commissario
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17 Oct 2002
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Panting like a fiend
Make a note of where all the utility cut-offs etc are. A lot of kitchen fitters just love to put a unit in front of the main internal stopcock so it's accessible only via 2 or 3 inch hole that you may not be able to get your hand into to turn it.
The outside water valve (usually under a small manhole with the meter), the inside water valves etc (the main one, and any isolators)., and possibly if you can check the internal stopcocks work, often it's not been turned for years and can be stuck when you need to turn it off at 3am because you've got a leak.

Potentially get a small selection of tools, hammer, screwdrivers etc, radiator keys to bleed the radiators, with a relatively small number of tools you can potentially fix/do a lot of the routine maintenance jobs around the house (for example about £30-50 worth of tools lets you deal with many plumbing issues which can pay for itself the first time you need to fix a leaky valve/tap or if you get a leak over the weekend/holidays).

Check the sockets are wired as expected - If you've got two ring mains (up and down) as is the norm these days in the uk make sure you have checked that say a hall socket isn't on the other ring. One of my neighbours' house has been rewired/altered several times including by a muppet of a builder (gonzo or possibly fozzi given how much of a joke some of his work was), so when the electrics tripped we discovered her lounge had sockets that were on the upstairs ring (one corner), the downstairs ring, and because the dividing wall with the kitchen had been lowered, one socket was actually on the kitchen ring...

Get some torches if you've not already got them, keep one by the meter (with spare batteries), one in say the kitchen and one in the bedroom.
Make sure you've got a spare for any unusual bulbs such as that monstrosity they like to put in the bathroom that is a 2, 4 or possibly 6 pin thing in one of about 3 sizes and you can guarantee that when it goes you'll go hunting all over the place trying to find exactly the right replacement (and that it will most likely go at 3am on a Sunday morning, or if you're really lucky Christmas - see again torches ;)).

Get a fire blanket for the kitchen, especially if you do a lot of frying.

Possibly make an accurate floorplan of the house so that when you go to decorate you have a reference without having to measure every room again.
Maybe make a note/schedule for things like checking the smoke alarms.

Are these the sort of tips you're looking for?
 
Man of Honour
Joined
13 Oct 2006
Posts
83,144
Fairly general but if you plan on doing renovations, etc. however much you think it will cost you'll probably end up spending twice as much.
 
Soldato
OP
Joined
1 Dec 2006
Posts
16,600
Location
Amsterdam, NL
Make a note of where all the utility cut-offs etc are. A lot of kitchen fitters just love to put a unit in front of the main internal stopcock so it's accessible only via 2 or 3 inch hole that you may not be able to get your hand into to turn it.
The outside water valve (usually under a small manhole with the meter), the inside water valves etc (the main one, and any isolators)., and possibly if you can check the internal stopcocks work, often it's not been turned for years and can be stuck when you need to turn it off at 3am because you've got a leak.

Potentially get a small selection of tools, hammer, screwdrivers etc, radiator keys to bleed the radiators, with a relatively small number of tools you can potentially fix/do a lot of the routine maintenance jobs around the house (for example about £30-50 worth of tools lets you deal with many plumbing issues which can pay for itself the first time you need to fix a leaky valve/tap or if you get a leak over the weekend/holidays).

Check the sockets are wired as expected - If you've got two ring mains (up and down) as is the norm these days in the uk make sure you have checked that say a hall socket isn't on the other ring. One of my neighbours' house has been rewired/altered several times including by a muppet of a builder (gonzo or possibly fozzi given how much of a joke some of his work was), so when the electrics tripped we discovered her lounge had sockets that were on the upstairs ring (one corner), the downstairs ring, and because the dividing wall with the kitchen had been lowered, one socket was actually on the kitchen ring...

Get some torches if you've not already got them, keep one by the meter (with spare batteries), one in say the kitchen and one in the bedroom.
Make sure you've got a spare for any unusual bulbs such as that monstrosity they like to put in the bathroom that is a 2, 4 or possibly 6 pin thing in one of about 3 sizes and you can guarantee that when it goes you'll go hunting all over the place trying to find exactly the right replacement (and that it will most likely go at 3am on a Sunday morning, or if you're really lucky Christmas - see again torches ;)).

Get a fire blanket for the kitchen, especially if you do a lot of frying.

Possibly make an accurate floorplan of the house so that when you go to decorate you have a reference without having to measure every room again.
Maybe make a note/schedule for things like checking the smoke alarms.

Are these the sort of tips you're looking for?

These are brilliant! We've rented for far too long (I'm early 30's, she's late 20's) and I do consider my self a fairly good handy man, however, within reason given rentals often have blocks in place on how much we can do. The torches and fire blanket comment has not once crossed my mind! The places we rented in San Francisco came with them, and it makes a lot of sense. Genuinely, thank you!

Fairly general but if you plan on doing renovations, etc. however much you think it will cost you'll probably end up spending twice as much.

The house we're negotiating over on Thursday has a garage with a busted roof, whilst I wouldn't mind tackling on my own, I think we'll be turning to a professional team to fix. Naturally, I try to avoid costing something up my self and will always turn to a professional (or several) for an estimate when it comes to work as such.

I'd post a link to the house we're negotiating over, however I'd rather not have a bunch of people give me reasons why they think we're making the wrong choice. I'll leave that to the professionals. If you'd like to see though, do ping me via trust for a link.

Again, thank you!
 
Man of Honour
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Just to the left of my PC
I think Werewolf has it all covered, but I'll throw in my ha'porth:

[..] Maybe make a note/schedule for things like checking the smoke alarms. [..]

Including when they should be replaced. It'll be on the alarm, but it's a lot easier to refer to a note/schedule than it is to read the tiny writing on an alarm on a ceiling.

I'd advise adding a small stepladder to the "small selection of tools" Werewolf mentioned. You won't need it often, but it'll be annoying and possibly dangerous ("...if I stand on this chair I can just about reach...") if you need it and don't have it.

A minor thing - it's handy to find out the rubbish&recycling collection days before moving in. Just a little thing to remove from the hassle of moving, but every little helps.

Make a note of where all the utility cut-offs etc are. [..] and possibly if you can check the internal stopcocks work, often it's not been turned for years and can be stuck when you need to turn it off at 3am because you've got a leak.

The worst thing I should have checked when I bought my house but didn't because I didn't think about it was the internal gas cut-off handle next to (and before it in terms of gas flow) the meter. At some point before I bought the house, someone had removed it somehow for some reason. The cut-off valve was there, but the handle to activate it wasn't. I didn't find that out until I came home from work and smelled gas. That's pretty high up on the list of things you don't want to find missing when you want to use it. The next thing I found missing was a reasonable degree of urgency from the emergency gas escape number. After I explained I could smell gas, they asked why I wasn't calling from inside the address I'd given them. The address with a gas leak. After I explained that was because there was a gas leak, gas that can explode, so I thought it would be a good idea to not stay inside the house because of the gas leak, leaking gas, a gas leak, yes, a gas leak, an emergency and that was why I was phoning the emergency gas escape phone number, they said an engineer would be round in a few hours. At which point I hung up, called the fire brigade and told them the situation. They arrived in a few minutes and made it safe.

So yeah, finding and checking the utility cut-offs is good advice. I knew that there would be a cut-off next to the gas meter, but I didn't check it. It was not a fun surprise.
 
Last edited:
Commissario
Joined
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Panting like a fiend
I'd forgotten about the replacement dates for the smoke alarms.
I tend to mark it on them so whenever I change the battery/do a test I can see it, same with the carbon monoxide alarm.

A small stepladder is a great idea, we use a small 2 step+ top one, but depending on things like ceiling height (and how tall you are/how low the lights are) a 4 or 5 step one is useful.

We actually have (from memory) the small one, a normal 5 stepper, a multi way ladder that can be a stepladder, ladder or platform, and a little 3 foot long/low platform that is idea for decorating (we also have a larger dedicated platform, and a couple of sets of long ladders) and a couple of the little steps from ikea, but generally we use either the small steps, the rest are usually living in the garage between uses every few years.

p



The worst thing I should have checked when I bought my house but didn't because I didn't think about it was the internal gas cut-off handle next to (and before it in terms of gas flow) the meter. At some point before I bought the house, someone had removed it somehow for some reason. The cut-off valve was there, but the handle to activate it wasn't. I didn't find that out until I came home from work and smelled gas. That's pretty high up on the list of things you don't want to find missing when you want to use it. The next thing I found missing was a reasonable degree of urgency from the emergency gas escape number. After I explained I could smell gas, they asked why I wasn't calling from inside the address I'd given them. The address with a gas leak. After I explained that was because there was a gas leak, gas that can explode, so I thought it would be a good idea to not stay inside the house because of the gas leak, leaking gas, a gas leak, yes, a gas leak, an emergency and that was why I was phoning the emergency gas escape phone number, they said an engineer would be round in a few hours. At which point I hung up, called the fire brigade and told them the situation. They arrived in a few minutes and made it safe.

So yeah, finding and checking the utility cut-offs is good advice. I knew that there would be a cut-off next to the gas meter, but I didn't check it. It was not a fun surprise.
I'm surprised the gas board were that relaxed about that leak angeilion, that's really poor of them.
I'm also disappointed that the meter reader and service engineers for the boiler etc had never noticed it, IIRC they're meant to look for signs of damage/tampering as part of the job and report it, I would have thought a missing cut off handle should have been an immediate safety issue and a replacement fitted.

On a related note, it's worth having the current number of the regional electricity distribution company handy, not the one you get a bill from but the one that runs the actual cabling as if you have a problem with your supply they'll be the ones to fix it.
We had the incoming mains cable burn out a few years back, and had to look for a yellow pages to get a phone number that worked (back before internet on mobiles), as the number on the meter/incoming fuse board was 20 years out of date. Once we contacted them they had someone out within a few hours, and by the afternoon a team of about 4 as they located and started to put in a joint and replace the cable after the damage.


These are brilliant! We've rented for far too long (I'm early 30's, she's late 20's) and I do consider my self a fairly good handy man, however, within reason given rentals often have blocks in place on how much we can do. The torches and fire blanket comment has not once crossed my mind! The places we rented in San Francisco came with them, and it makes a lot of sense. Genuinely, thank you!



The house we're negotiating over on Thursday has a garage with a busted roof, whilst I wouldn't mind tackling on my own, I think we'll be turning to a professional team to fix. Naturally, I try to avoid costing something up my self and will always turn to a professional (or several) for an estimate when it comes to work as such.

The torches one is something I know my family find amusing as I have so many of them of different types stashed all over the house, but I hate looking for a torch when I need one, and modern torches are both cheap and versatile whilst being small enough to be easily kept handy and to have multiples of them. As well as the normal flashlight type it's worth getting one with some sort of "flood light" function and either hooks or magnetic bases, as in a power cut or doing DIY it gives you more options for hands free use and lighting an area (many of the amazon flashlight ones seem to have that function now), and possibly getting at least one that is either brightly coloured or possibly glow in the dark, the standard black body used on many torches kind of makes it hard to find them in a powercut unless you know exactly where they are (and no one has moved it slightly from where you remember it). That's a lesson I learned when we had a powercut at 10pm on an overcast winters night.


Congratulations on the house, it's daunting but nice not having to worry about being told you can't do something you want with it because the landlord doesn't want to repaint etc :)
As for the garage roof depending on how bad it is and what materials are used it hopefully won't be too big/expensive a job.
 
Caporegime
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Location
Warwickshire
Overpay your mortgage as much as possible would be my advice.

Although from a strict financing returns point of view you could argue that it's normally better to invest that money in a pension or equity etc. because mortgage rates are typically lower than long-term equity rates, paying off debt first is a commonly recommended approach and living mortgage free is a beautiful thing.

Having more equity in your house will also allow you to move up the housing ladder more quickly, should you so wish.
 
Caporegime
Joined
8 Sep 2005
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28,106
Location
Norrbotten, Sweden.
Dont burn house down
Don't leave exterior doors open all night
Seal all letterboxes
Try to flush once a day or it gets blocked.

Until mortgage rates become "normal again" I wouldn't ever overpay mine. I've made my entire years repayments in a months investing/yoloing.

:I'm joking about the YOLO.
 
Man of Honour
Joined
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12,134
Location
Vvardenfell
It may seem obvious but: if it needs decorating, do it before moving in! If you can't, then do it before unpacking more than the bare minimum. I find it worth it to get a profession in to do this, just because they can do it a lot faster than you. You may not wish/be able to pay though. Also, if you've only seen the property with the previous owners still living there, then no matter what state it looks in, then you will see no end of work that needs doing once their furniture comes out.

Be ready in case the current owners really strip the place - I'm not sure of what the law over there requires them to leave. But with my first house the previous owners took the curtains (fair enough), the rails (not so fair) and the -ing battens they were screwed to (which was just petty). Also, no bulbs.
 
Associate
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If you have a garden tackle it a little before spring comes, which is around the corner!

I find insects landing on my face while i'm leaning into a bush trying to trim the other unreachable side rather annoying. Some plants grow unbelivably quick and dwarf others that you may want to keep. They also become a nuisance if they root aggressively too.

A little here and there will save effort in the long run.

Identifying if neighbours are annoying or not will save you changing up future plans for the property that you may have already? I'm very much look after thy neighbour attitude.
 
Caporegime
Joined
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38,361
I'd say that it's a must you meet all neighbors before buying and inspect their properties from the outside to see the level of upkeep they have.

Broken meter boxes, destroyed decking and fencing left untreated and not painted is a bad sign.

Huge dogs in cages outside another bad sign. This includes neighbors behind you not just at either side.

Also go several times at different times and see if there are any parking issues. Like of the neighbour across the road is using the street as his own personal business car park and has 10 company vehicles parked everywhere taking up all the parking. May not be so obvious at certain times but will be late at night.

As for the home itself double check everything works. When I moved in a couple of sockets didn't and subsequently they were wired up to the same point the alarm was rigged up to so was low power and blew once something more powerful than a phone charger was plugged in.
 
Soldato
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15,521
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Aberdeen
My wife and I are coming to the final stages of purchase of a house here in the Netherlands,

Does your new house border water - a canal or drainage ditch? If so you should check out the laws on maintaining the waterbank and when it was last done and the state of the bank. I understand that this can be a considerable expense and you don't want an unpleasant surprise!
 
Soldato
Joined
9 Apr 2007
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11,847
Just buy nest smoke alarms, test themselves, when in so no batteries to change. Tell you when they need attention.
The path light is a god send on the landing as well just enough light to go to the bathroom.
 
Associate
Joined
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1,928
Clear all the external drains of leaves and rubbish as soon as you can- saves surprise flooding.

Get up the attic and check the insulation is as it should be.
 
Soldato
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24 Oct 2012
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22,381
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London
Make a note of where all the utility cut-offs etc are. A lot of kitchen fitters just love to put a unit in front of the main internal stopcock so it's accessible only via 2 or 3 inch hole that you may not be able to get your hand into to turn it.
The outside water valve (usually under a small manhole with the meter), the inside water valves etc (the main one, and any isolators)., and possibly if you can check the internal stopcocks work, often it's not been turned for years and can be stuck when you need to turn it off at 3am because you've got a leak.

Potentially get a small selection of tools, hammer, screwdrivers etc, radiator keys to bleed the radiators, with a relatively small number of tools you can potentially fix/do a lot of the routine maintenance jobs around the house (for example about £30-50 worth of tools lets you deal with many plumbing issues which can pay for itself the first time you need to fix a leaky valve/tap or if you get a leak over the weekend/holidays).

Check the sockets are wired as expected - If you've got two ring mains (up and down) as is the norm these days in the uk make sure you have checked that say a hall socket isn't on the other ring. One of my neighbours' house has been rewired/altered several times including by a muppet of a builder (gonzo or possibly fozzi given how much of a joke some of his work was), so when the electrics tripped we discovered her lounge had sockets that were on the upstairs ring (one corner), the downstairs ring, and because the dividing wall with the kitchen had been lowered, one socket was actually on the kitchen ring...

Get some torches if you've not already got them, keep one by the meter (with spare batteries), one in say the kitchen and one in the bedroom.
Make sure you've got a spare for any unusual bulbs such as that monstrosity they like to put in the bathroom that is a 2, 4 or possibly 6 pin thing in one of about 3 sizes and you can guarantee that when it goes you'll go hunting all over the place trying to find exactly the right replacement (and that it will most likely go at 3am on a Sunday morning, or if you're really lucky Christmas - see again torches ;)).

Get a fire blanket for the kitchen, especially if you do a lot of frying.

Possibly make an accurate floorplan of the house so that when you go to decorate you have a reference without having to measure every room again.
Maybe make a note/schedule for things like checking the smoke alarms.

Are these the sort of tips you're looking for?

This wins me at useful post of the day, fantastic stuff.

Familiarity is key. Learn everything. Find out where your meters are and make sure you have the right keys to access them. Make a little folder with all this info in it, perhaps with photos, so if you're on holiday or something and someone's looking after the place / pets, the info is readily available should anything go wrong.

Find a neighbour you trust and give them a key, and offer the same for them. If you're at work one day and your home bursts a pipe or something, you'll be grateful.

Oh and also mark your territory. Walk around the neighbourhood and pee against some street lights so people know this is your hood now.
 
Soldato
Joined
17 Jan 2005
Posts
8,334
Location
Liverpool
The worst thing I should have checked when I bought my house but didn't because I didn't think about it was the internal gas cut-off handle next to (and before it in terms of gas flow) the meter. At some point before I bought the house, someone had removed it somehow for some reason. The cut-off valve was there, but the handle to activate it wasn't. I didn't find that out until I came home from work and smelled gas. That's pretty high up on the list of things you don't want to find missing when you want to use it. The next thing I found missing was a reasonable degree of urgency from the emergency gas escape number. After I explained I could smell gas, they asked why I wasn't calling from inside the address I'd given them. The address with a gas leak. After I explained that was because there was a gas leak, gas that can explode, so I thought it would be a good idea to not stay inside the house because of the gas leak, leaking gas, a gas leak, yes, a gas leak, an emergency and that was why I was phoning the emergency gas escape phone number, they said an engineer would be round in a few hours. At which point I hung up, called the fire brigade and told them the situation. They arrived in a few minutes and made it safe.

So yeah, finding and checking the utility cut-offs is good advice. I knew that there would be a cut-off next to the gas meter, but I didn't check it. It was not a fun surprise.

Also if you do have a cut off, make sure it works! As I found out when I moved into my house over the Christmas week 5 years ago. Once we'd got everything in, I was sure I could smell gas. I went to cut off the gas only to find out that the handle was seized solid as the regulator was so old. To be fair, Transco were on the ball and were round in about 30mins after I called them however they just condemned the regulator and capped off the supply. It was January before they could come back to fit a new regulator and then I still needed to get the gas engineer out to replace the old gas pipe running to the boiler which was faulty. Having no heating, hob, hot shower or hot water until the middle of January in the depths of winter when we'd just moved into a new house was great fun. Tempers were very short!

Get up the attic and check the insulation is as it should be.

And while you're up there, check for holes in the roof. When I bought my first house, I didn't check in the loft until after I'd moved in and was putting some stuff up there. Seeing daylight and rotted jack rafters was slightly worrying.
 
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