Tool Kit

Getting To Know Your Home!

New Homeowner Orientation

To be a better homeowner, you should get to know your home. Make yourself familiar with all the things that make your home function with the help of this New Homeowner Orientation and checklist.

Where are the key controls for water, gas, electricity and sewer? Where are the access points to all the spaces of the home? How do things turn on/off, open/shut, raise/lower, and lock/unlock?

Where are your appliance and equipment manuals? Where are your fire extinguishers, gas shut-off wrench, utility meters? Who are your utility providers, who will be your service providers and even where will you go to get groceries, pharmacy items and hardware?

All these things and more are important to learn, so here is the tool to help you.

Image showing structural parts of the home for new homeowner orientation
Parts of your home

Anatomy Of Your Home

Listed below are parts of your home you will want to get to know.  These are numerically matched to the diagram above. This is especially helpful if you are a brand new homeowner and need to communicate with contractors, service people or designers and architects. Learn these things right away.

For more detail the parts below are linked to other areas of this site.

Parts of your home

  1. Foundation
  2. Mudsill
  3. Rim joist
  4. Floor joist
  5. Wall stud
  6. Header
  7. Cross brace
  8. Exterior sheathing
  9. Air and moisture barrier
  10. Shingle siding
  11. Horizontal lap siding
  12. Gable vent
  13. Door/window casing
  14. Ceiling joists
  15. Rafters
  16. Ridge beam
  17. Perlin
  18. Eave block
  19. Fascia
  20. Lookout
  21. Gable
  22. Roof sheathing
  23. Roof paper
  24. Roofing material
  25. Chimney
  26. Plumbing vent
  27. Valley flashing
  28. Boot/jack flashing
  29. Gutters
  30. Downspout
  31. Splash block
  32. Barge rafter
  33. Eave block
  34. Wall/step flashing

Homeowner Orientation Checklist:


Do these things first to get to know your home:

  • Download and print the MY HOME forms so you can fill out the important information specific to your home to keep on hand.
  • Create and post a vendor list of service and other key providers for the home and keep somewhere easily read.
  • Perform the balance of this checklist item by item. At the end you should have a good handle on your home.

Doors and locks

  • Take a walk all around your house and operate all exterior door locks. Lock and unlock both key-in-knob and deadbolts.
  • Learn where to get extra keys made and always have another set or two handy and labeled.
  • Some sliding glass patio doors have primary and secondary locks that may require special instructions.
  • Check the operation of all the windows and their locks.


  • Locate and label all the main shut-offs for water, gas, and electric. Learn and map out where they are, how they turn on/off and when you might need to do this.
  • Gas Shutoffs: Locate, label and cycle these to be sure they can be operated smoothly without excess efforts.
  • Water Shutoffs: Locate, label and operate these valves.
  • Electric Shutoffs: Locate and label the main panel, all sub-panels and breakers.


  • Collect and read appliance manuals and learn to operate and service the appliances.
  • File for any time sensitive appliance warranties and registrations.
  • Locate, inspect and understand how to use your fire extinguisher.
  • Learn how to use and service your Sink faucet (including spray unit, aerator and filter).
  • Learn how to use stopper(s) for sink draining.
  • How to reset the food waste disposer and how to un-jamb with specialty tool.
  • Learn where the water shut-offs under the sink are located.
  • Learn where GFCI’s receptacles are located and how to test and reset.


  • Try and operate all Switches for lights.
  • Test and reset the GFCI receptacles.
  • Learn how to use the sink faucet and stopper.
  • Find your sink traps and learn about how to service them if needed.
  • Learn how to operate your toilet and how to remove lid for inspection.
  • How to service and operate exhaust vent fan.
  • Find and operate angle stop water shutoffs for sink, tub and toilet.
  • Learn how to operate the shower valve and any shower door or curtain.
  • How the door operates and locks.

Other interior spaces-check in each room for

  • Check operation of all switches for lights.
  • Location of each electrical receptacle some may be hidden or in unexpected places like drawers or in cabinets.
  • Location of cold air returns (never cover them).
  • How to operate and inspect the floor or wall heat registers.
  • Learn how windows operate and lock and how screens are removed and replaced.
  • How doors and locks operate.
  • Learn where all attic/crawlspace access hatches are located and how to use them.

Other items to be located

  • Find your thermostats and learn how to operate and program them properly.
  • Locate all smoke detectors; know how/why they work, how to test and how to replace batteries.
  • Identify and locate all carbon monoxide detectors; know how/why they work, how to test and how to replace batteries. Check to see if any have been recalled.
  • Locate and know how to use any fire extinguisher(s).
  • Find your fireplace damper and learn how to operate.
  • Locate all water filters and record the size and type of each filter. Get and keep spares on hand.


  • Find and operate the light switch for the garage.
  • Locate all GFCI receptacles in garage and test/reset.
  • Locate all GFCI exterior receptacles on house and test/reset.
  • Operate garage door and keypad (including the lock system).
  • Learn location and how to operate and program irrigation controller.
  • Learn the locations of outdoor flood lights and their switches and illumination patterns (find any blind spots)
  • Locate crawlspace access hatches and learn to use and seal them properly.


  • Locate water heaters, learn to service, set temperature, inspect and determine age.
  • Find you main sewer connection and clean-out plugs.
  • Locate all furnaces, learn filter sizes, service needs and how to shut them down.
  • Find all air conditioner compressors and where power shut off is located.
  • Locate refrigerator, learn to service coils, inspect seals and clean drip pan and filters.
  • Find dryer vent/duct and learn to inspect and clean lint trap.
  • Learn to service and clean cooktop hood filters and fan.
  • Locate and learn to service water filters throughout the home.
  • Learn to program and use the garage opener/remotes and emergency disconnect.