In many people’s lives, there are milestones that reflect maturity, status, and a personal sense of accomplishment. For some, it’s getting that big promotion at work or finally achieving a fitness goal. For others, it’s rescuing an animal or getting married to their lifelong sweetheart. While everyone’s personal goals and life paths differ, most of us converge pleasantly on the thought of buying a home of our very own into which to funnel our happiness, pride, and elder years.
While it’s nice to finally own your own slice of heaven on which to self govern, it is not a one-and-done deal that comes wrapped in a convenient package (or with a bow). Homeownership comes with its own trials and tribulations that require some degree of personal responsibility and know-how. Unless you have a butler, a property management company, or some really generous in-laws, it would behoove you to consider the basics of property ownership in order to maintain the value of your home. Here’s how to avoid common home accidents and get a restful sleep at night with the tips and tricks outlined below.
Dealing With the Inevitable
So far, they haven’t figured out a way to invent a house that doesn’t decay, break, or have something go wrong with it. While we can’t always avoid picking a bad paint color after an eye doctor’s appointment, we can take it as an inevitability that you will have to call roofing contractors at some point. After all, the average roof only lasts for about 20 years, meaning that whether you buy a new or old house, you’ll likely have to invest in upkeep.
Ditto for inquiring about driveway paving services when you start to see cracks in the cement. Tree roots can cause serious issues in concrete while freezing and thawing water can make this problem even worse in the winter. Speaking of which, you might also have to invest in water damage repair services when the new toilet you just bought overflows into the guest bedroom. These are the cold, hard facts of property ownership and there is little way to get around them but to simply prepare.
Murphy’s Law states that “anything that can go wrong, will go wrong” and while some people may view this as pessimism, this isn’t always the case. Taking Murphy’s Law into account when budgeting for common home accidents, you can prepare easily and swiftly by having an emergency fund for these problems. Try to budget at least $1,000 in a high-yield savings account for pesky pipes, stubborn shingles, and careless caulkers that may come your way. For larger projects that you know will have to be completed someday (such as roof repair or HVAC cleaning services), get a full quote for those services and save up an “emergency down payment.” This is usually 25-50% of the overall cost of the job. Since you have a long time schedule to save for these things, you can squirrel away relatively tiny amounts ($50 or less) that adds up over time to ease your headaches. That way, when the inevitable happens, you won’t be scrambling for cash, cursing being a part of common home accidents, or placing buckets on the floor to catch incoming storm droplets.
Fool-Proof Your Property
You may not be old, disabled, or prone to hitting sharp edges with your knee as you round a corner, but visitors to your house could be. An often overlooked — but the worthwhile — investment is “fool proofing” your home for children, the elderly, and those will special needs. You can do this by making sure that the indoor environment is as safe as possible by searching for sources of injury or likely error.
Avoid common home accidents and protect your future children (or visitor’s children) by rounding off sharp edges, putting down a rug, or installing carpet in the main living areas. Safeguard eye level electrical outlets by with plugs so that delicate fingers don’t accidentally inspect them, and install locks on doors to sensitive areas to make sure that stairs don’t catch someone off-guard. Protect your future self and the elderly by taking special care to inspect bathrooms for slippery spaces or unknown hazards. Consider putting down grip mats and installing handlebars within areas that are prone to dampness and becoming slick. This can also help you survive the occasional stumble.
But it’s not just limited to inside: outside your property, consider installing gates to hazardous areas like holes, sprinkler areas, or electrical boxes. Lock up tools that are sharp such as chainsaws, clippers, and axes. Don’t worry about seeming paranoid or crazy, as all of this can add up to the difference between you having to deal with an insurance claim and resting easy.
Bonus tip: if you ever need to sell your home, you can list all of the safe features that families and vulnerable populations want. It’s truly a win-win for everyone involved.
Be Vigilant of Invisible Home Enemies
While we’ve started to go over mechanical problems in a home, it’s worth noting that not everything that goes wrong is a mechanical or logical failure. Things that are present in a home, such as gas lines, excessive humidity, or an environmental condition (mold, radiation, pests) can be even more of a hassle.
Lots of common home accidents start with sentences like, “I was cooking pasta on the gas stove when the phone rang and…” before the inevitable conclusion of a fire, smoke alarm, or personal injury. If your home is wired for cooking gas, one of the first things you should do is contact a repairman for an inspection. These pros can tell whether there are any gas line repairs to be made. Gas is called an “invisible enemy” for a reason: leaks can build up over time and cause deadly consequences when exposed to fire. Even the act of lighting a candle can put your home at risk. In some areas, gasses in your home don’t even have an odor and are harder to detect. If you’d rather not worry about it, consider removing gas lines from your home and going all-electric. You may even be able to get a solar power credit or find creative ways to lower your bill.
An often overlooked aspect of homes is their electrical wiring, voltages, and setup. Standards change with building codes over the years, and what was once state-of-the-art technology in 1997 can quickly become obsolete (or even dangerous) in 2020. We’d like to think of electricity like water, something that’s just piped into our home from afar and safely within the walls until we use it. But wires, breakers, boxes, and switches degrade just like appliances. One day you turn it on in order to light the living room, and the next day a spark jumps out to try and give you a heart attack. Always remember to periodically call an electrician for a home electrical check-up. It could be the difference between a light bulb turning on and sparks flying.
Sometimes the area that a home is constructed in can be conducive to mold and other pathogens. Even if the humidity outside is low, common home accidents like a bathtub leak or foundation crack can eventually create conditions that allow hazardous organisms like black mold to fester and proliferate. If this happens, you could be in a serious world of hurt, to say nothing of your lowered property values. Make sure to check around your home often to see if things are in tip-top shape, and consider hiring an expert to reassure you that your castle is indeed still fit for a king and queen.
Making Things Look Pretty (and Practical)
There are parts of your home (such as the garage door) that are seen by many as entirely practical and out of the realm of design. But if you’ve ever walked around a “hip” urban area, you know that’s not true! As long as you’re not bound by a homeowner’s association or covenant laws, you can transform something as drab as a garage door into an inviting and eclectic space that welcomes you into your home each day. Browse designs online, invite painters over, or just start in on a DIY project of your very own! A bonus of attempting to paint your garage door is that you can bundle in calling a garage door repair service to make sure that your door is mechanically sound and able to be painted or treated before you start. If it isn’t, you can replace it with something more suitable and have peace of mind while creating beauty.
If you’re concerned about property values along with aesthetics, consider adding a garden space. Having a garden not only adds a nice visual appeal to your home, but it is also a practical way to produce your own food. But if you’re not into creating your own Garden of Eden out back, consider calling a landscape design service to get a price quote and ideas of how to spruce up your own little slice of heaven. You may even want to call a residential plumbing service to inquire about installing irrigation or sprinklers, so that you can grow year ’round. The possibilities truly are endless.
Save Money Through DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Projects
Experts are most often the way to go when being reassured about your home’s safety, durability, and value. While that is almost always true, it’s still within your power to complete projects on your own schedule and with smaller resources without succumbing to common home accidents (like nailing your thumb to the wall instead of that Van Gogh reproduction). You may not be able to diagnose a black mold infestation in your basement, but you ARE capable of painting that guest bedroom Periwinkle Blue and hanging photographs of the Tuscan countryside. Never underestimate the power of the internet, books, and your local handyman in helping you figure out just how much beauty your own hands can create.
Other parts of your home that are mechanical don’t necessarily need a wizard present in order to cast the magic spell of repairs. While you probably should not engage in large scale plumbing or try to route your own hot water, always remember that there are little parts (such as the water connector or knobs) that you don’t need a formal certification to fix. With the advent of YouTube, DIY books, and the ear of the old man at your local Home Depot, it’s easier than ever to fix minor problems yourself. And the best thing about fixing minor problems is keeping them from turning into major problems or common home accidents. It’s within your power, exercise it!
Rest Easy in That Master Bedroom, You’ve Got This!
Now that we’ve gone over numerous ways to repair, maintain, improve, and fool-proof your home, you’re smarter than the average homeowner. Not only do you possess the keys to a beautiful property all your own, but through reading this article has also unlocked tips, tricks, and downright smart ideas to help you preserve it for years to come. The likelihood of you having to make a desperate midnight phone call to your home insurance agency to discuss an incident covered by your homeowner insurance is slim to none (but you can still stop by to chat with your agent).
There’s no way you would fall victim to common home accidents or pitfalls, seeing as you’ve scheduled risk into the equation and are constantly monitoring various nooks and crannies, right? WRONG! While it may be comforting to rest on your laurels with your newfound education, common home accidents are “common” for reason: anybody can succumb to them at any time, regardless of education level, income, or eternal vigilance of their indoor plumbing.
As the renowned cartoon philosopher GI Joe used to say, “knowing is half the battle.” Protect yourself with a home insurance agency, consult professionals, and rely on articles like these for inspiration. Now that you know how complex and intertwined homeownership can be, you’re one step ahead of the rest and in a better position than most. So rest easy in that master bedroom and breath a sigh of relief (you’ve earned it). But don’t freak out if you flush the toilet one day and your lawn sprinklers turn on. Welcome to homeownership!