Home Care > 5 Must-Know Homeowner Hacks

Congratulations, you’ve successfully completed your home move. The boxes are unpacked, the change-of-address cards have been sent out and you’re reclining on your sofa thinking about ways to kick-start your new life at your new place.

And this is the best time to do it. You have a window of opportunity to make some fundamental improvements before your new routine kicks in. You’d be amazed how many householders live with things for decades that it would have taken a few hours at most to sort out when they moved in. Here are 5 easy-to-overlook things to tick off your list.

1. Change the Locks

In all the hustle and bustle of packing and moving in, it’s highly likely you’ll forget something as simple as changing locks. It’s extremely important though, especially if your new home has had previous tenants or served as a rental home. Multiple people could still be holding the keys to your house. And while the chance of receiving unwanted visitors isn’t high, it’d still be nice to get it down to zero.

2. Spruce It Up

Of course, your new home has to be functional. But it can – and should – be more than this. A few simple cosmetic upgrades will make your house feel 100% yours. The drawback is that these can be surprisingly expensive, so factor in the cost of paint, rollers, tape and wallpaper before you begin. For some ideas on how to do up your new home, check out our handy furnishing tips and interior-design guide.

3. Energy-Efficiency Wins

Running a new home can be expensive, but there are some one-off upgrades you can carry out when you first move in that will save you money on a recurring basis.

Ensuring that your house is well insulated will save you money on every month’s heating bill. Areas of key concern are windows, doors, loft (if you have one) and exposed pipes. Double-glazing may seem expensive when viewed as a one-off cost, but it’s proven to be one of the most effective ways to increase the energy efficiency of your home. Another easy win is to wrap up any exposed pipes within piping insulation.

There are other even simpler things you can do too. For a start, don’t overheat your home. While it’s tempting, especially in winter months, to have all heaters on full, it’s definitely cheaper to set everything to room temperature (~20*C) and bob on a sweater.

4. Play Safe and Play Smart

Things will need to go up or down when you’re redecorating, but just don’t do everything at once. Take care when cutting down vegetation in the garden or moving items around the house. If you’re doing anything major, such as landscape gardening or architectural modifications, it’s definitely recommended to consult a professional first. After all, the risk to your new home surely outweighs the money you might save by going down the DIY route …

If something requires you to drill a hole in a wall, remember there could be any number of important things hidden behind it. Pipes, duct work, wires and cables tend to lurk inside layers of plaster and brick, so invest in some tools (e.g. stud sensors) that help avoid any damage.

5. Make Sure Your Cover Level is Appropriate

Insurance is one of those annoying things you have to tick off as part of the admin of moving house. If you bought your new place with a mortgage, it’s likely that you’ve got buildings insurance in place already (after all, it’s a lending requirement for most mortgage providers). But have you got insurance for all those contents you’ve just unpacked? And, if you do, have you got the right level of cover?

Buildings cover ensures that, if your house burns down, you can rebuild it. However, it does not pay to replace all the things you lost inside the property. That’s where contents insurance comes in. But a staggering 5.2 million homeowners in the UK don’t have this. Don’t be one of them.

Now, you may have home insurance in place covering your building and contents all in one. But don’t get too comfortable yet. Insurance is a peace-of-mind product. It exists so that you can exist free of worry. So, be sure to quickly double-check that your level of cover appropriately reflects the value of your belongings. This way you can be confident that, if bad luck ever comes knocking, your insurance will do what it says on the tin.

Having insufficient cover – being under-insured – means you stand to lose out when it comes to claiming. This isn’t just in a “total loss” scenario. Most people with £20,000 of cover will understand that that’s the maximum they can claim, even if the things they’ve lost are worth double. It’s extremely unfortunate but it’s easy to get your head around. Where things become counter-intuitive is when you need to make a smaller claim – and find that your insurer is still only willing to cover half the cost.

That’s right. If you’re 50% under-insured, insurers may apply a so-called “averaging” clause and pay out only 50% of any claim. This means, if you lose your £1000 laptop, you may only be able to get back £500. And under-insurance is a trap it’s very easy to fall into given how hard it is to accurately value your things when you take out an insurance policy. And given that, whatever it says on your policy, the value of your household contents will substantially increase as the years go by (we estimate by 24% over a 3-year period).

There are other common “insurance traps” to watch out for too. Many policies come with single-item claim limits. So, if you lose a diamond ring worth £5000 but your claim limit is £1500 (which is normal on many standard policies), then that’s all you will be able to claim back on it (representing only 30% of the ring’s value). Even if, having correctly calculated the total sum your things are worth, you have an appropriate level of cover in place.

As you can see, home insurance is a bureaucratic nightmare but it’s one that’s best got out of the way as early as possible. Get protection, make sure you’re protection is the right protection for you, and then sit back and enjoy your new home!