Buying a home can be a chaotic experience and this does not stop when you get your keys. It can be very tempting to straight away move everything in and get furniture set up and crack open a bottle of Champagne. But first, there are a number of items for the safety and comfort of both you and your family which at least one person should spend the first few hours doing.
Of course, there are 100 other things to do to. But by getting these first 5 things checked off the list, you'll spot a lot of potential issues straight away which means you can get them sorted before they become a big issue for your and your family.
1: Check the Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Detectors
The very first thing you should do when you walk in the door is check that all the smoke and Carbon Monoxide detectors are in place and working.
These devices are vital for giving you and your family early warnings if there is a fire or if any of the fuel burning appliances are malfunctioning and releasing Carbon Monoxide into your home.
Even if they were present during the survey or your viewings, you should still check and test the devices. Vendors can sometimes take the devices, or even the batteries with them when they leave, or they can become damaged during the move.
To test the alarm, simply press the button in the middle and hold for a few seconds. If the alarm sounds, then the device is operational.
If there are not enough devices or if one is not working, you should pop out to the local hardware store and buy new ones.
How many Smoke Detectors should I have?
The latest fire regulations require properties to have a smoke detector in every habitable room including bedrooms and kitchens.
Older properties built before these regulations came into force may not meet this requirement and might only have one Smoke Detector on each floor. However if this is the case, you should still consider buying more so you can have one in every habitable room.
How many Carbon Monoxide (CO) Detectors should I have?
There should be a Carbon Monoxide detectors in every room which has a solid fuel, gas or oil burning appliance like a fireplace, stove, cooker or heating boiler.
So if your house has a stove in the living room, a gas boiler for the heating and a gas cooker, you should have 3 Carbon Monoxide detectors. One in each room where the devices are located.
2: Make sure you have running water and note location of stop valve
Running, clean water is essential for everything from drinking to cooking and hygiene. Check the kitchen tap is running. If not, the vendors may have turned off the water supply and you'll need to turn it back on at the stop valve.
Usually the stop valve is located under the sink. But in some homes it can be located in other places. Check inside and outside around the kitchen, the attic and the hot press.
After you have turned back on the water supply, run the taps for a few minutes and keep a close eye out for any leaks. If the house has been vacant for any length of time, it is not uncommon for leaks to form as connections/valve seals dry out.
If you are unable to get any of the taps working, if you notice any leaking (even very small leaks) or if you spot anything else out of the ordinary, call a plumber!
TOP TIP: Put some kind of label on the valve so future you, someone else in your family or even a plumber you hire will know straight away it is the correct valve in case of emergency.
3: Check that your heating and hot water are working
This one is especially important if you are moving in during colder months. Find the heating controls and turn it on. Let it run for a good hour and make sure all the radiators are heating up and that you have a hot water supply.
If any of the radiators are not heating up even after you turned them on, you may need to hire a plumber or technician to inspect the heating boiler and balance the system.
If the property has a combi boiler or an emersion, you may not need to turn the heating on to get hot water.
TOP TIP: If the property has an Oil Boiler, check the level of the oil tank. If low, contact a local company to request a refill. In some areas there can be a wait time to get a deliver of oil.
4: Take note of your meter readings
From the day you get the keys, you are responsible for any electricity or mains gas used. So before you forget, take note of the meter readings on both the electricity meter and gas meter.
You'll need these when you are signing up with a provider so that you will only be charged for what you use! Any usage from before your meter reading will be billed to the old owner.
Even if the property has a smart electricity meter in place, it is still a good idea to take note of the reading just to compare with your first bill.
Then, within a few days, go onto a comparison site like Switcher or Bonkers and find the provider which is right for you!
5: Check all doors and windows are secure and arrange to have the locks changed.
How many keys did the vendor give you? Were they all the keys and how you do you? There could be any number of people who have had access to the property over the years with their own key. An estranged son, a crazy neighbour or even an old tenant who left on bad terms.
You have absolutely no way of knowing how many keys have been made and who has them. So get the locks changed! This is something that should only take a few hours and potentially a couple of hundred euro if you hire a locksmith. Otherwise, if you are a DIY person, you can simply pop to any hardware store to buy replacement locks and change them yourself!
In addition to the porch, front door and back door, make sure all the windows are closing and opening property and that they can appear to be secured with no gaps or loose hinds etc. Its a good idea to get your windows and doors serviced every few years anyway, so if you notice anything, arrange for a window specialise to come out for a service! They'll also change any rubber seals which need replacing to ensure the windows and doors are as efficient as possible.
Bonus Tip: Take your time!
Moving into a new home can be overwhelming and there can be an uncontrollable urge to get everything unpacked and set up straight away. Just worry about the essentials and over the next few days and weeks, unpack things as you need.