4 Things First-Time Homeowners Overlook, According to Real Homeowners on Reddit

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Unless you’re a real Ron Swanson type—who built your first chair at the age of five and who gleefully tells Home Depot employees you know more than they do—owning your first home is going to be a bit of a reality check when it comes to understanding how houses work. (What exactly is an air duct, anyway?) Because many first-time homeowners are inexperienced, they often overlook issues or costs that pop up in their houses, which can snowball into bigger problems that will almost make them miss their landlord.

You’re not alone, first-time homeowners. Even I, a person who writes about real estate for a living, must confess that I completely missed a water damage spot in my basement, which led to a $10,000 repair about two months after I moved in. So, don’t be like me—and read through some of these things Reddit users say first-time homeowners tend to overlook to be prepared from the very start. 

Investigating water woes thoroughly

If there’s one thing that can wreck a house, it’s water, says Reddit user comic0guy. “[Make] sure water goes where it’s supposed to. On the roof, in the gutters, away from the house. Not behind the siding or into the window trim. If not dealt with, in my opinion, water is what will destroy your house first.”

When water is pooling somewhere or doesn’t drain properly away from the house, it can cause a whole barrage of issues, like foundation erosion, mold, roof problems, and basement flooding. How can you tell there’s a problem before it becomes a full-on water crisis? Periodically check around your home for signs of water damage, like water spots on the ceiling, warped wood floors, or any standing water close to the exterior. 

Changing out the air filter

When you’re coming from a rental, you’re used to a landlord taking care of all the maintenance issues. But now it’s all on you. One of those routine maintenance tasks you’re now responsible for is changing out the air filter, and it can actually be pretty problematic if you forget. 

“I didn’t know I had to change air filters. I went 18 months without changing them…probably took a few years off my AC’s life,” says Reddit user ryan_with_a_why

It’s true. Failing to change the air filter on your HVAC system can make it run inefficiently, hike up your energy bills, and even cause it to clog and cause damage to the unit. A good-quality air filter needs to be changed every three to six months, so don’t forget to put that on your Amazon reorder list.

Factoring in the cost of maintenance and repairs

Even if your home is move-in ready, sooner or later you’re going to have to make a repair or keep up with routine maintenance. Little projects like unclogging the drain, adding mulch to the flowerbeds, or power-washing the siding can add up to a significant chunk of change every year—something that first-time homeowners can often forget, like Reddit user jezza_bezza did: “My biggest first-time homeowner mistake was budgeting. Routine maintenance and repairs cost way more than I anticipated. I moved from a smaller place, and didn’t estimate utilities as well as I could have. There’s also a lot of tools and such that I didn’t have.”

So, how much money does it cost to keep your home well-maintained? The pros recommend you save about 1 to 4 percent of your home’s value for yearly maintenance and repairs. 

Understanding the cost of heating and cooling a home with open-concept spaces

Love them or hate them, open concept living spaces are pretty much a standard in the modern real estate scene, but many first-time homeowners don’t take into account how expensive it can potentially be to keep the place heated/cooled if your home doesn’t have many walls, noted one Reddit user. 

One thing you can do to combat the costs? Use all of the streaming natural light to your advantage in the winter months and rely on ceiling fans to circulate air throughout your open spaces.