What I learnt during my first year as a homeowner

Advertisement feature in collaboration with EDF Energy. As always, all thoughts and opinions are my own.

I learnt some important lessons in home maintenance and property renovation during the first year of owning my own home so read on to find out what went well, and what went wrong!Wow, it’s already been a year since I bought my first home. The time has really flown by. With a finished bedroom, a nearly-decorated home office and a newly installed bathroom, we’re making good progress with the renovation. So I wanted to celebrate this anniversary by reflecting back over my first year as a home owner and share the things I’ve learnt – good and bad..!

The first thing is the fact that all the maintenance is down to us. I know it’s obvious, but I’ve always had a landlord to call when there was a problem in the past. So having to sort out every maintenance issue for myself was a bit of an eye-opener. All I can say is – make sure you have good insurance! It is possible to get boiler, plumbing AND energy cover, so it’s working looking into the various policies out there to find one that’s right for you.

I’ve had fun choosing the finishes for my kitchen – full makeover coming soon!

Did you hear that storm last week? Our house really too a battering and part of the ridge of the roof came clattering down. I was worried about the repairs until we called up our buildings insurance for the first time ever and spoke to them. It turns out that we’re covered for the repair because the wind speed was 50% higher than their minimum requirement for a claim. No surprise – that storm was a thing of nightmares.

Another insurance that I’ve been super-grateful for this year is boiler insurance. I mean, we’ve needed it a lot. Not only were we dealing with using gas heating for the first time, we also had a temperamental system that worked sometimes, and just gave up at other times.

Making my minimalist bedroom feel cosy

Let me set the scene for you: It’s February. It’s snowing outside. The uncarpeted floors are ice cold. I’ve just spent 3 days scraping wallpaper off the walls of the living room, only to find another layer of woodchip underneath it. And I’ve got a hot water bottle stuffed inside my messy-work hoodie. Yet, I’m still shivvering. Yes, that was my first month as a home owner, and it carried on for many more weeks and months until we got the musty old house into a liveable condition.And during that time, the boiler stopped working. It was perfectly fine for the first few weeks – even after having been out of action in a house that’d been empty for more than a year. But, as soon as the February frost showed up, the boiler decided to take a break. It’s almost as if it knew that this would be the least-convenient time of year for it to go wrong. And with very little loft insulation, the temperature in the house dropped rather quickly.

No amount of checking error codes in the manual could direct us to the source or solution of the problem. But thankfully we had already taken out boiler insurance, so an engineer was with us within the week. He was able to reset the system and sort out the problem within minutes. Phew. No more cold toes for me!

My fitted wardrobes took 2 days to install but now I have my dream storage!

Apparently here was a bit of a problem with the pressure, which would be dealt with later in the year when the boiler was serviced. The boiler would occasionally make a ‘brrrrrrrrrrrrrrrrr’ sound (like a giant mobile phone on vibrate) and we would have to turn it off for a minute to get the pressure back down to the right level. We were happy to do this, knowing that it would be fixed soon.

Not long after, the insurance company called us to book in our annual boiler service. It was included in the insurance package. As suspected, the boiler needed a new part to repair the problem with the pressure and we paid a small excess to get the part and have it fitted. The job was finished in hours and we had a fully functioning heating system – just in time for the summer, haha!

Decorating the bedroom with an arts and crafts style wallpaper

Of course, I’m joking – I wanted the boiler to work no matter what time of year it was and it was a great relief to have it serviced and tested. We found out that the boiler is rather new (in terms of how many years a boiler would last, that is) and is a good-quality model. And the most reassuring thing was learning that it’s now running at 98% efficiency. Brilliant.

By the way, it really is as if the heating systems knows it’s cold out, because the thermostat started clicking on and off by itself this week. I mean, every couple of minutes. Thankfully, this time we didn’t need to call out the boiler engineer; it was simply a case of bleeding the radiator in my office. This sorted out the system and it seems to be functioning fine again. See, we are learning things about home maintenance as we go!

I covered my office in gold stars – it cost only £1 per roll of wallpaper!

Here’s another thing that I learnt during my first year as a homeowner. Don’t tackle the bathroom plumbing without using end-caps on your pipes. When we fitted the bathroom, it was out of action for nearly two weeks, so we turned off the water supply to the whole house in order to do the job. We had to visit the local facilities in order to use the loo and had to make use of the nearby eating establishments for lunch and dinner every day.

It was a long process to plumb in the bathroom. We waited for a shower fitter to become available but, as it isn’t an electric shower, in the end we just followed the instructions to connect it to the water supply and did it ourselves. It’s still working 8 months later so I think it’s okay. But the main point here was that we could have carried on using the water supply if only we’d just capped off the pipes in the bathroom when we removed the sink etc. Rookie mistake.And finally, the other thing I’ve learnt is that you don’t need TV. For some reason, the TV aerial point in the living room didn’t work when we moved in, even though we bought shiny new connectors and cables for it. Our limited budget meant that we didn’t ever get round to getting someone in to check the aerial, but I have to say, we didn’t need to either. We have a TV license and we already had a Smart TV so we’ve found out just how good the online streaming services are these days.

It helps that our broadband speed here is massively faster than at our previous rural address, so we’ve really been able to make use of catch-up TV and Netflix. It’s been quite a relief to be able to watch the shows that I want to watch when I have time to watch them. It’s saved me loads of time and I’ve found that I’m reading more than ever. Our Christmas present from mum was a DAB radio, and it’s been the best entertainment we could have ever asked for.

So, these are just a few things that I’ve learnt during my first year as a homeowner/renovator. What did you learn when you first bought your home? Do you have any advice for me as I start renovating my kitchen, living room and hallway? Let me know in the comments below if you’ve experienced any of the above too – it would be good to know that I’m not alone!

This first-year-as-a-home-owner anniversary round-up was created in association with EDF Energy. I hope you like it!

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Cassie is a freelance writer with a Masters degree in Lifestyle Promotion Studies and is trained in Personal Money Management. She loves to ‘get the look for less’ so regularly shares thrifty-living advice, DIY interior design ideas and low-cost recipes on her blog.

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