“Houses Ought to Have An Owner Manual”
5 September 2005
If you buy a new car or refrigerator or a CD player or just about anything at all, you get an owner’s manual with it. But, buy a house and what do you get, nothing or maybe if you are lucky, a pile of papers, which are related to various appliances or other electrical or mechanical devices in your home. But where, for example, is the house water cutoff value or sewer cleanout? And I have never ever seen a house where the circuit breaker panel is actually marked correctly so that when you turn off breaker 1 or 5 or 20, what it is supposed to be controlling actually is turned off!
Houses ought to come with owner manuals. Inside the manual should be a floor plan map of all floors of the house with all electric switches defined and which circuit breaker controls each switch. Additionally, there should be a floor plan map, which shows all wall outlets and what circuit breaker controls each outlet or room. A floor plan map is ever so much better than trying to search through the circuit breaker panel listing looking for a specific room or part of one room.
Other items, which should be in a house owner manual include:
- Master water cut off value location.
- Sewer cleanout location.
- Location of where water, natural gas, telephone and elecctricity enter the house.
- Brand and exact color of all paints used on walls, wood trim, anywhere.
- Manufacturer and specifications of all windows and doors.
- Manufacturer, model number and serial number of all appliances in the house.
- Make, model, serial number and tonnage of all air conditioner units.
- Make, model, serial number and BTU of furnace or heating system.
- Make, model of any baseboard heating elements.
- Make and model of all recessed lighting fixtures.
- Make, model and serial number of garage door opener.
- Make and model of all installed thermostats.
- Make and model of all installed shower doors.
- Make of all toilets.
- Manufacturer and model of all installed cabinets.
- Make, model and all applicable codes of any installed security system.
- Identification of rooms which have carpet as to whether or not there is hardware flooring underneath the carpet.
- Maintenance schedules for heating and air conditioning units.
- Size of gutters on house.
- Make and color of all siding.
- Make and color of any synthetic materials used in decks or other exterior structures.
- Make and color of roof singles.
- Make and model of any intercom system installed (master as well as each room installed unit.)
- If installed drainage management system, drawing or diagram of buried pipes.
Of course other things could be easily included in an owner’s manual for a home but he point being is that at sometime on the future, you or the next owner is going to need to know some of the information above to either do repairs or have repairs done.