2024 Homeowner's Guide

It's been almost a year since becoming a homeowner myself, and needless to say, it's already been quite the adventure: flooding, loose gutters, top-to-bottom painting, and a laundry closet that was too small to take out the old washing machine. Ironically, even though I created Minicastle to help my family with their house issues and track stuff I wanted to fix in my apartment, I really had no idea what to do when it came to actually owning a home myself.

Google and YouTube are amazing learning resources, but like anything else on the internet, this stuff can be as overwhelming as owning the house itself. Quickly, I found myself wishing for a more curated list of suggestions, advice, and way of managing everything I was seeing.

So, here's a starting point of suggested ideas gleaned from one of my go-to sources for advice: Reddit (including r/HomeImprovement, r/Homeowners), as well as other resources I've found and learned myself. I plan to add more and improve what's here over time. Have any thoughts or suggestions? Send an email to help@minicastle.app.

Get started!
Check out the lists below. If you'd like a dynamic way to track these issues, you can sign-up for Minicastle, then add these directly to your home's issue board. Or, feel free to access it in spreadsheet form.

Easy Upgrades

Just move in? (Or... thinking about selling?) Here are a few ways to increase the quality of your living space easily. Estimated costs range from free (!) to just a few hundred dollars.

  • Clear out junk
  • Clean windows
  • Clean closets
  • Clean storage
  • Hang art
  • Install smart lightbulbs
  • Add houseplants
  • Upgrade switch/outlet covers
  • Install new cabinet pulls
  • Install new door hardware (knobs, handles, hinges
  • Install new light fixtures
  • Re-paint trim
  • Install removeable wallpaper
  • Paint walls

Basic Routine Maintenance

Preventative maintenance is the best way to avoid having big issues blow up. You don't need to be a handyman or expert to do the following. Everything should take just an hour or two at most, but once you're done, you'll have a better sense of how your home is running and potentially catch bigger problems early.

  • Collect any records or manuals for all major systems (Furnace, Water Heater, AC)
    1x per year
  • Run systems and listen for issues
    2x per year
  • Check water shutoff valve
    1x per year
  • Check natural gas shutoff valve
    1x per year
  • Test life safety systems
    1x per year
  • Check circuit breaker to major systems
    1x per year
  • Check for cracks around exterior of house
    1x per year
  • Check for any water pooling around exterior of house
    1x per year
  • Check attic for any signs of moisture or mildew
    1x per year
  • Create an inventory of your stuff for insurance purposes
    1x per year
  • Power wash concrete surfaces
    1x per year

Getting Ready for Winter

If you live in the Northeast like me, weather from November to March is usually a whole different ballgame. Hopefully your winter is much sunnier and warmer than ours, but if you're in another cold climate, here are a few suggestions to help your house hunker down. Winter is coming!

  • Disconnect AC system for winter
    1x per year
  • Turn off water supply to all exterior pipes and faucets
    1x per year
  • Check and clear gutters
    1x per year
  • Power wash and re-stain wood decks
    1x per year