First-time homebuyer? Upgrading to a bigger home for your growing family? Whether you’re new to homeownership or not, many questions arise after you sign the official paperwork making the house yours. Here are nine common homebuyer questions and how to handle each situation.

Q: What Should I Do if Pets are Buried in the Yard?

Many states allow for owners to bury pets on their property if it’s away from waterways and water pipes as well as other residences. Laws regarding disclosure on this matter vary, so check your state law. You can ask the previous owner to remove the remains or garden around the area. 

Q: How Do I Plan for Home Utility Costs?

When purchasing a home, the homeowner usually discloses the average costs of utilities to the agent. You should find out as soon as possible. Call the companies in advance.

Take a few preventative measures to reduce your utility costs by adding insulation to the attic, sealing leaks in doors and windows and replacing outdated appliances with energy efficient ones. Get a smart thermostat that will better regulate home temperature.

Q: What Does Homeowner’s Insurance Cover?

Homeowner’s insurance is a type of property insurance that covers damages and loss to the home along with its assets. It also covers liability for accidents that occur on your property.

Homeowner’s insurance is required when you apply for a mortgage, and the lender can provide it. You can get your policy separately, but you must get it first. Your policy will cover interior damage, exterior damage, injuries occurring on the property and damage to your assets or the property itself. Read your policy closely to also find out what your deductible is and your liability limit — most cap at $100,000 for the latter.

Q: What Renovations Were Recently Done?

Recent renovations are like quick home makeovers. Many renovations fix real concerns, but others may cover up a deeper issue. Did someone just buy the home only to flip it? That’s fine but find out the story behind your home’s rehabilitation. Will you encounter fresh paint, or is that only covering up water stains?

Q: What Home Inspections Do I Need?

Once you know more about recent renovations, conduct home inspections. A general home inspection tells you much about your home, but the inspector may recommend a more specialized inspection, such as a visit by a HVAC specialist or foundation engineer. Take those on recommendation, but do consider hiring a surveyor if you want to double check the real lot size and boundaries — don’t rely on fences. Surveyors also tell you where the encroachments lie.

You should always compare pest control companies to get a fair market rate and proper recommendation for your home. Making sure the company has a good reputation and offers reliable services is key. Take time to check reviews at the Better Business Bureau before choosing one. Never feel pressured to go into a monthly contract with a pest control company or other company without doing your research first. The company should be properly licensed, bonded and insured. Get the estimate and keep asking questions.

Q: What’s a Home Warranty?

You got your homeowner’s insurance, but now you must deal with something called a home warranty? Home warranties help owners cover unexpected repairs and regular wear and tear on appliances and systems in the form of a service contract. That coverage includes HVAC, plumbing, electrical and other household appliances. Some real estate agencies purchase these warranties as a buyer’s incentive, but you can purchase your own.

These home service contracts keep your peace of mind when something decides to break down around the house. Don’t decide on sales tactics alone. Check references and see if the pros outweigh the cons, such as not charging extra fees for emergency trips on weekends.

Q: What Will My Commute Be Like?

Get ahead of your new routine and avoid stress by outlining your daily commute in advance. Listen to the traffic reports leading up to the move and ask around about areas that are regularly burdened with traffic. Even it takes longer, a more scenic route might ease stress. Consider travel alternatives, such as taking the bus, ride sharing or biking.  

Q: What’s the Slope and Length of the Driveway?

Get to know the slope and length of your driveway before winter comes or your kids go outside to play. You don’t want outdoor toys to roll down into traffic or go ice skating downhill while shoveling snow. You don’t need to use math — just test and plan it out. 

Q: Are the Gutters in Good Condition?

Check your gutters because the repairs or replacement can run a few thousand dollars. Do they look bent? Does water pour over the gutters? Do the guards keep out muck? Backed up gutters may route too much water near the foundation, and downspouts should empty away from the home. 

Hopefully, the answers to these questions provide you with more information and peace of mind. Now, you can pop the bubbly with a game plan for part two of the homeowner safari.