New Homeowners: What to do NOW and LATER

Bridget & CaseySeptember 9, 2016 Comments

We’re not quite sure if we still fit into the “new homeowner” category (Bridget has been in her home for over 3 years, and I’ve been in my condo for 1 year), but we certainly remember those early days of new homeownership. After the high of being a new homeowner wears off, you feel like you’re writing check after check on all of the things that come with being in a new home. Painting, buying new furniture, fixing this & that…it’s can be incredibly overwhelming and incredibly EXPENSIVE! We literally felt like we were bleeding money and couldn’t make the bleeding stop!!

Insta-new-home-champagne-cork-keyAfter shelling out big bucks for a down payment, the last thing you want to do is spend even more money on your house. Unfortunately, there’s no way to avoid some of these early homeownership expenses BUT there IS a way to prioritize those valuable dollars.

Money-Cash-CoinsToday, we wanted to offer our two cents (#punintended) on what you should SPLURGE on right from the start, and what you should wait on to help you SAVE. Although this list may not work for every situation, these priorities are what worked for us and if we ever move, this is definitely what we’ll be sticking to in order to prioritize our expenses.

NOW

hardwood-stain-color-choicesFlooring: If the hardwood floors in your new home are in bad condition (or a color you HATE), you may want to think about repairing them before you move in. Sanding & re-staining hardwoods makes a huge mess (legit dust everywhere!) and you’ll need to remove everything in your home before taking on a project like that (seriously nothing on the floors…even in the closets!). We suggest splurging on updating your floors prior to even moving in 1 piece of furniture so that you can get the mess and inconvenience out-of-the-way immediately AND love your gorgeous new floors… immediately too! family-room-before-stained-floorThat’s exactly what Casey & Finn did in their condo. Because the hardwoods were scratched and scuffed, they had them sanded and stained to a color of their choice. Yes it was a couple thousand dollars at a time when money was flying out the window like crazy, but it was worth it to get that wishlist item done right away.

i_heart_paint_organizationPainting: Painting is definitely something you can wait on if you really want, but getting some fresh paint on the walls, trim, and doors is a great way to start your life in your new home! And again, painting is a heck of a lot easier when you don’t have anything on the walls or furniture in the space. Plus, having the wall colors nailed down will help you when you start decorating so you can keep a cohesive color palette.

paint-brush-purdy-paintingAlthough paint is expensive these days, we think painting the house yourself is a great way to make this expense a little less of a huge splurge and more of an affordable and attainable project.  You can always choose individual room colors down the road as you tackle each space, but getting the main areas, trim, and ceilings all freshly painted is a wonderful way to start your life in your new home.

electrical-wires-lightingLighting: If you’re looking to add recessed lighting into any of the rooms in your home, we suggest trying to get this done pretty early in the process! Yes, we understand it’s hard to find extra money for another extra project, but getting this mess out-of-the-way will save you some serious inconvenience later on. An electrician will need to change the electrical in your ceiling…so it’s a big project! Bridget waited about 1.5 years to add recessed lighting into her family room area, and she could hardly believe the difference it made once it was in. So much brighter, it makes you wonder how you even lived without it!

We don’t think it’s necessary to change out all (or any) of the light fixtures right away. Living in the space and seeing how your home’s style evolves will help determine which fixtures you should eventually add.

Our advice? Splurge on recessed lighting now. Save up for light fixtures you love for later on!

Feet-on-rugSteam Clean Carpets: Yes this is another expensive splurge, but let’s be real… who wants to live surrounded by a stranger’s germs trapped in your home’s carpet (TMI?!). Getting the carpets cleaned will not only make the house look better but most importantly, it will give you peace of mind in helping you feel comfortable in your new space.

LATER

table-dining-roomNew Furniture: Yes, we LOVE new furniture but we definitely don’t think it’s the most important expense when you buy a new home. Thanks to our own mistakes, we think buying new furniture right away isn’t always the best choice. To us, it’s very important to live in your space before you start buying all of the new furniture for your home. You want to make sure you figure out your routine in your space before you fill it with items that might not be the right fit for your lifestyle. Instead of buying just to buy, hold off on purchasing any huge furniture pieces.

06-augusta-master-bedroom-dresser-bedIn the meantime, you can use thrifted or secondhand pieces. Or just make do without a few items until you save up for the exact piece that you l-o-v-e.

landscaping flower backyard hydrangea Landscaping: Of course we all want to impress the neighbors right away, but waiting to indulge in new/improved landscaping is definitely a way we feel you can save money. Living with your home for a full year (crazy, we know!) if money is tight is a great way to see how your home functions during every season. Will you really take advantage of your front porch as often as you think? Will you do a lot of backyard BBQ-ing or entertaining on the patio? Will that corner of the property be the perfect home for the shed you hope to build? Getting the answers to these questions before jumping into new landscaping or outdoor expenses is important so you can make the right decision.

shelves-decor-built-ins-hardwareBuilt-Ins: We actually have a few friends that have built houses over the past few years and were super bummed when they came to find out that the built-ins on their wish list was out of their budget (at least for the time being). The price on the built-ins was more than they anticipated and they just couldn’t afford this extra expense after all was said and done.

Our answer — that’s okay… and in some ways even better! Like the furniture, it’s important to note how you live and how your home’s style evolves before making such a permanent decision. Yes, it would be super convenient to get all “building” projects done right away but when money is tight, the built-in can easily wait because it’s something that can be added later without an unbearable mess. Heck, Casey got her whole entertainment center installed in one day… with a very minimal mess! We would encourage people to save up and when the time comes, splurge on the design and size you’ll love forever.

Bridget's House_tour_diningROomAccent Walls: You know we are all about accent walls here on the DIY Playbook and if you have the money right away, we say go for it! But if not, this is definitely an expense we think can wait. Although it may be annoying to work around furniture later on, this furniture will provide a good indication of your style, which will help you make better decisions about these accent walls. Plus these projects that can easily be DIY’ed, so wait until you have more time to devote to these fun projects.

shiplap_bathroom_reveal-15Bath & Kitchen Remodels: If you have the money right away, of course we’re huge fans of remodeling right from the start… especially rooms like the kitchen or bathrooms. However we realize that is often times far from reality and not always feasible for the a new homeowner budget. So instead of tackling the whole makeover right away, try making mini updates that are more affordable. Maybe try painting, changing the hardware on the cabinets or vanity, changing the faucet, hanging art, or any other mini project that will upgrade the quality of this space without breaking the bank. Once you have saved up, you’ll know how your family uses these spaces and will have a much better idea of what you want in that makeover.

Did we miss anything?! We’d love to hear your advice!Bridget and Casey Signature

PS. We are heading to Carmel, California for the weekend and are SO excited to see this amazing part of the country for the first time!! If anyone has been there, we’d love to hear your suggestions. And if you want to follow along on our Carmel/Michaels Makers Summit adventures, be sure to follow along on Instagram, Facebook & Snapchat —-> @diyplaybook

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  • Definitely agree about painting! I did most of my house before we moved in, but waited to do the bedroom. I just did it this past weekend and it was SUCH a pain with all the furniture in it!

    • Yeah if you can figure out the right colors ahead of time, it’s soooo much easier getting it done before there is stuff everywhere!

  • Definitely agree about painting! I did most of my house before we moved in, but waited to do the bedroom. I just did it this past weekend and it was SUCH a pain with all the furniture in it!

    • Yeah if you can figure out the right colors ahead of time, it’s soooo much easier getting it done before there is stuff everywhere!

  • Trang

    I agree with your lists of things to do now and later. I read an article recently that said to wait to paint until after you move in so you can get the feel for the room with your furniture and the lighting, etc. I didn’t agree because it’s a pain to paint once furniture is in place and you have to move it around and cover it so it doesn’t get paint spatters. I recently moved into a new home (and still unpacking and unboxing – so endless it seems) and did all the now stuff: re-stained walls, painted, renovated the kitchen (we had to…it was much easier to do now than later for us). Next on the list is to get window treatments – and gosh, they are expensive. I have to do this for all the windows in the house. For a tiny house, it’s a lot of windows!

    • You are a DIY rockstar Trang! And we feel ya on those windows treatments. It’s mind boggling! But hopefully it’s a 1 time purchase.

  • Trang

    I agree with your lists of things to do now and later. I read an article recently that said to wait to paint until after you move in so you can get the feel for the room with your furniture and the lighting, etc. I didn’t agree because it’s a pain to paint once furniture is in place and you have to move it around and cover it so it doesn’t get paint spatters. I recently moved into a new home (and still unpacking and unboxing – so endless it seems) and did all the now stuff: re-stained walls, painted, renovated the kitchen (we had to…it was much easier to do now than later for us). Next on the list is to get window treatments – and gosh, they are expensive. I have to do this for all the windows in the house. For a tiny house, it’s a lot of windows!

    • You are a DIY rockstar Trang! And we feel ya on those windows treatments. It’s mind boggling! But hopefully it’s a 1 time purchase.

  • Brittany

    Agreed about painting before you move in! I just bought my first house and besides cleaning, the main thing I wanted to have complete was painting the walls. Feels so fresh and new, even in an old house. I’m holding off on furniture to avoid buying ‘filler’ pieces and waiting to find pieces I love, but its so hard to not fill all the empty space right away! Great list!

    • Good for you, Brittany! Sounds like you’re off to a great start in your new home! Congrats.

  • Brittany

    Agreed about painting before you move in! I just bought my first house and besides cleaning, the main thing I wanted to have complete was painting the walls. Feels so fresh and new, even in an old house. I’m holding off on furniture to avoid buying ‘filler’ pieces and waiting to find pieces I love, but its so hard to not fill all the empty space right away! Great list!

    • Good for you, Brittany! Sounds like you’re off to a great start in your new home! Congrats.

  • Morgan Smith

    here’s one for us – NOW – scrape the popcorn ceilings! We did this in empty rooms first and its been so much more difficult in rooms with furniture! What a mess!

    • ohhhh yes! Wow, we’ve heard it’s a messy project. So probably a good idea to do it before moving in! Good call, Morgan.

  • Morgan Smith

    here’s one for us – NOW – scrape the popcorn ceilings! We did this in empty rooms first and its been so much more difficult in rooms with furniture! What a mess!

    • ohhhh yes! Wow, we’ve heard it’s a messy project. So probably a good idea to do it before moving in! Good call, Morgan.

  • Kristen Ayotte

    This is good list! When we moved into our new place in April we definitely made sure to get the carpets cleaned before hauling in the furniture! So much nicer, and the carpet cleaners gave us a discount!

  • Kristen Ayotte

    This is good list! When we moved into our new place in April we definitely made sure to get the carpets cleaned before hauling in the furniture! So much nicer, and the carpet cleaners gave us a discount!

  • Marilyn

    The Carmel/Monterey area is a favorite vacation spot for my husband and me. We’re lucky to live just a few hours away. I definitely recommend hiking at Point Lobos State Park-beautiful views and lots of great trails. Driving through 17-Mile Drive in Carmel is also fun-lots of gorgeous houses and pretty scenery. Have a great time!

    • Thank you for the tips Marilyn! We’ve been researching the area and everything looks absolutely stunning! We cannot wait. So amazing that you live so close!

  • Thank you for the tips Marilyn! We’ve been researching the area and everything looks absolutely stunning! We cannot wait. So amazing that you live so close!

  • Great list! We’re working on redoing hardwood floors right now and it’s certainly a mess!! Although we’ve been here for 10 years and didn’t think of doing it before!!

  • Great list! We’re working on redoing hardwood floors right now and it’s certainly a mess!! Although we’ve been here for 10 years and didn’t think of doing it before!!

  • Suzanne Larson

    Love this post! Thanks guys! Do you have a Rookie Painting post? I’d love to hear your tips for building the confidence to tackle painting projects and your favorite painting projects!

    • Thanks Suzanne! We are currently working alongside Bridget’s dad (a professional painter + painting contractor) to compile a whole post about Rookie Painting Tips. It’s scheduled on our calendar for a couple weeks from now so definitely check back! In the meantime, here’s a post we did on Rookie Tips for choosing the perfect paint color: http://thediyplaybook.com/2015/05/pick-perfect-paint-colors.html

      Thanks so much for your comment, you are too darn sweet! =) xp, B&C

  • Suzanne Larson

    Love this post! Thanks guys! Do you have a Rookie Painting post? I’d love to hear your tips for building the confidence to tackle painting projects and your favorite painting projects!

    • Thanks Suzanne! We are currently working alongside Bridget’s dad (a professional painter + painting contractor) to compile a whole post about Rookie Painting Tips. It’s scheduled on our calendar for a couple weeks from now so definitely check back! In the meantime, here’s a post we did on Rookie Tips for choosing the perfect paint color: http://thediyplaybook.com/2015/05/pick-perfect-paint-colors.html

      Thanks so much for your comment, you are too darn sweet! =) xp, B&C

  • Best post ever ! More so since I’m moving in my very first home (and moving from my parent’s!) in exactly two weeks ! The list of things to do is so huge when you think of everything you want to/need to do, but this post really help prioritize ! Thanks 🙂

    • Awww, you are TOO sweet… thank you Erika. And most importantly, CONGRATULATIONS on your new home!! What an exciting time!!! Good luck with the move =)

  • Best post ever ! More so since I’m moving in my very first home (and moving from my parent’s!) in exactly two weeks ! The list of things to do is so huge when you think of everything you want to/need to do, but this post really help prioritize ! Thanks 🙂

    • Awww, you are TOO sweet… thank you Erika. And most importantly, CONGRATULATIONS on your new home!! What an exciting time!!! Good luck with the move =)