A Few Things All New Home Owners Should Know

Since It's My Home Now, I Can Do Whatever I Want

Before removing that overgrown tree or choosing new exterior paint colors, think about your neighbors. If you bought a condo, co-op, or a home in a neighborhood with an HOA (homeowners’ association) you may not actually have the right to do that without their consent. The items an HOA (or condo association or co-op board) may have control over is surprising. Things like pet ownership, outdoor clotheslines, or even parking in the driveway instead of your garage. Hopefully, you were able to obtain a copy of the covenants before you signed on the dotted line. If so check the rules. Because breaking them could cost you — by making you redo a remodel, or slapping a fine on you. But, before you get too upset about "Big Brother" watching over you, remember that HOAs are there to protect your home value. They’ve got your back. Just stay in touch with the rules so you don’t make a costly mistake.

Should I Renew My Home Warranty?

A home warranty is like a $500 bottle of wine. If someone else pays for it, why not enjoy it? And, sellers often do offer them as an incentive to help buyers (especially first-timers who often have limited budgets) feel more secure about having financial help for any unexpected repairs. If you were lucky enough to have the sellers toss one into your purchase deal, that's great! However, when the warranty runs out, your money may serve you better in a home maintenance saving account rather than continuing to sink $500 or more into a warranty you may never use or that has so much red tape that you won't have coverage on where you need it anyway.

Mowing My Grass Extra Short Means I'll Mow Less Often

Did you know that it is the blade of the grass that collects sunlight? If you cut them too short, they can’t soak up enough to survive, which kills off the grass and gives the weeds free reign. Lush, green lawns are key to great curb appeal when you go to resell. To preserve your home's good looks, a good rule of thumb is to cut your lawn no more than one-third the length of the blades at each mowing. Overall, aim to keep the grass between two-and-a-half and three inches high.

If My Neighbor's Tree Falls into My Yard, They'll Pay For It

Well …  that depends. Your first step, no matter what, is to call your insurance company. They’ll restore your property and then decide whether to pursue the neighbor for reimbursement. That may be tough, though, (and awkward) because in order to collect the insurance company needs proof that the neighbor knew the tree was old or damaged and didn’t maintain it. The good news is that your policy should cover tree damage caused by wind, water, and storms. It may also cover hauling away tree debris if it damaged your home. Likewise, if your tree falls on a neighbor’s property, don’t rush over with a wad of cash. Offer your sympathies, and let them know you’ll wait to proceed until their insurance company contacts you. Remember to always keep receipts for trimming and other tree care so that if your tree is the offender, you will be able to prove your diligence.

Drain Cleaner is the Best Choice for Clogs

While drain cleaners are quick and convenient, they can cause more (and bigger) problems than they fix. They don’t typically remove the entire clog, making it more likely to recur — and their caustic chemicals can wear away the insides of the pipes, causing leaks. Instead, invest in a $15, manually-operated drain snake at the hardware store, or rent an electric one to clear bigger clogs. Then use screens to prevent food scraps and hair from getting in your pipes. It's also important to keep everything but sewage and TP out of the toilets. You may even consider giving up the Charmin Ultra Soft for an easier to break down one-ply. What you give up in comfort could save you big bucks in sewer repairs.

MUD Will Cover Breaks in My Water Main

The answer is nope, plain and simple. The city is responsible to fix only public water lines in the road to the front of your property, but you’re responsible for the main that runs from your property line to your dwelling. A broken water main can cost anywhere from $500 to a shocking $3,000 (or more!) to repair. If you call them as soon as you notice the leak, they may forgive all or part of the cost of the water that leaked or you may have to pay for that water, too, which also can run into the thousands.

The most common cause of water main breaks is tree roots getting into older pipes. If you have mature trees with roots you might want to consider having your sewer scoped, if the agent that represented you didn't already advise you to do it before your purchase. Again, don’t waste money on special water pipe insurance. It’s not worth it. You’re better off putting that money into your home maintenance account. That way, whether your fresh water line or your sewer breaks, you have the money to fix it. Water pipe insurance usually only covers the fresh water line.

I Can Save Time and Money Reroofing Over Old Shingles

Reroofing, or adding new shingles over existing roofing, may be cheaper than replacing the roof entirely. But it’s not wise. A roof is like a cake of wooden sheathing beneath an icing of shingles. If the cake is spoiled, you can’t fix it (or even find out about it) by putting an extra layer of icing on top. If there’s damage to your roof, call your insurance company first. Most will cover the costs of removal, disposal, and replacement because they know that a roof on top of a roof has a shorter lifespan. As a matter of fact, often times insurance agencies will not cover the roofs of homes with two or more layers. 

Are Roof Vents Really Necessary? 

There is a common misconception that only homes in hot climates need vents. Roof vents provide necessary ventilation in both cool and warm climates. In warmer climates, the vents allow hot, humid air to escape, preventing heat from building up under the shingles. The vents serve a similar purpose in the winter months where ventilation pushes the warm away from your snow-covered roof and gutters. If warm air lingers under your roof, it could cause the snow to melt just enough to easily refreeze at night, melt again, and then refreeze the next day. This process creates you might have ice dams forming. When those ice dams melt in the spring, that water could funnel into your insulation and walls causing mold, mildew and all of the problems that come with them.


Hopefully, this has been helpful information as you embark on the rewarding journey of home ownership in Omaha, NE. If you have any other questions or concerns, please call or email us. We're here to help!

Until Next Time...