Home owners instruction manual
I can be useful to collect together basic information about your home and how it works, how to look after it, and where you will find important information about services and construction. This can be particularly useful if you need to document and pass on this information to a future occupant, or if you are the primary custodian of the information and might need to pass it to other family members who may survive you!
What to keep and where
Keeping manuals for appliances, along with your own notes can be very helpful. Taking and keeping photographs (probably digitally these days) and including them can also help explain things far more easily. If you get stuck into a large DIY project, then keep the plans, notes, receipts, and photos of work in progress, they can be very useful later - sometimes even to yourself!
This all needs to be kept in an accessible form, that is easy to find. A printed copy, and perhaps electronic ones as well.
Categories of information
There are two classes of information that you might want to keep. General household information that will be useful to you family should you not be available, and also useful to a future owner of the place.
There is a second collection of more personal information that will be particularly relevant to you family should you no longer be around.
General property information
- Where to find stopcocks
- Where drains run
- What storage tanks there are, and how to access them
- Details of water filters
- Details or water softeners
- Are there any pressure reduction valves? Where?
- Are there thermostatic blending valves? Where?
- Where to find isolation and service valves, and what they do.
- Make and model of any ceramic tap valves
- Is there a shower pump? Location? How to isolate (electrical and water)?
- Is there a cold water pressure regulator? Location? Setting?
- Is there a domestic hot water pump? Location? Type? How to isolate?
- Bathroom/kitchen mixer tap cartridges? Types? Sources for replacements.
- Where are the main drains?
- Manhole covers?
- Is there mains drainage?
- Who empties the septic tank if there is one?
- Who owns sewers?
- Are services shared with any neighbours?
- Which drains are foul drains and which are surface water only
- Where are feeds to outbuildings buried?
- Is there a gas service?
- Which appliances and where
- Where is the gas meter and the main shut off valve
- Where is the main switch
- Where are the consumer unit(s), and what circuits they feed
- The earthing system used
- Any known faults
- Which circuits serve which areas / appliances
- How smoke alarms are powered
- Details of feeds to outbuildings including location an cable details, and location of joins / junction boxes.
- The most recent installation/inspection report (often there is a sticker on the consumer unit saying when this was done)
- What type of heating system(s) are fitted
- Where is the boiler?
- Where is it powered from, ho do you isolate it?
- What heating zones are there?
- What type of zoning?
- Where are the thermostats?
- How are they powered?
- How to program the timer
- Is it a vented or sealed system? If vented, where is the header tank? If there are multiple tanks, which is which and where the stopcocks are
- Where is the central heating pump? In some flats it can be hidden under the floorboards
- If you have chimney stacks, which pot corresponds to which room's fireplace.
- Is there a filter on the return pipe of the heating system? How to check and clean it.
- When to add corrosion inhibitor and how.
- How to bleed the radiators.
- How is hot water produced?
- Is there a cylinder?
- How is it heated?
- Is there a backup heater?
TV & Radio Aerials / Satellite dish
- Is there a main aerial or dish?
- Where are the TV points?
- How are they fed?
- Location or amplifiers / splitters / multi switch?
- What reception area are you in?
- Which transmitter?
Telephone / Broadband
- Landline(s) installed?
- Where are the phone points?
- Where is the master socket?
- What broadband services are available in the area?
- What is the expected broadband performance?
- What keys work which locks?
- Is there a security system? If so, how to configure and use it?
Fences, hedges etc
- which fences, hedges walls etc are your responsibility?
- what if any maintenance do they need?
- who fitted/built (if not DIY)?
- any trees need routine attention?
- if so roughly how often?
- any recommended firms who have dealt with them?
- paint manufacturers and colour names
- wallpaper manufacturers and design names - and where bought, as they may be store-specific
- kitchen unit/door/worktop manufacturer and design name
- sanitaryware manufacturer and design (and colour shade, if anyone still has a coloured bathroom suite)
- internal and external door and window manufacturer and design name
- any other particular features like special electrical fittings, wall lights, door knobs
- even if originals have ceased to be produced, replacements/additions may be available second-hand for many years afterwards if you know what it's called
Works carried out
Solicitors often ask for evidence of Planning and Building Regulations compliance, or that something was done long enough ago it's no longer enforceable
- Window replacement
- Insulation and energy efficiency works - loft insulation installers may have stapled a certificate to a joist
- Porches, garages, outbuildings, conservatories - even driveways and paved areas can have planning and building regulations implications (such as permeable surfacing and drainage)
- Any alterations of walls, doors and window openings even if you think they're "not structural"
- Boiler and heating system installation and annual service
- Electrical wiring including smoke alarms
- Gas and oil bulk tanks - regulations for bunding may have changed
Material and supplies
- Design cods and suppliers for items that may need to be re-ordered like paint colours,
- Names of wallpaper
- Frosted glass patterns
- Brick names
Personal / Family information
This is stuff that could be very useful to family, but you won't be passing it on to a house buyer!
How to guides
- Details of AV gear and how it is setup, from how to select a TV channel to how to record a program.
- How to playback recordings made on your PVR system.
- How to program the central heating timer
- How to change the thermostat setting
Details of how to access any tech on your home network, including its IP address, Passwords and User names, and any special programs or apps necessary to interface with it. For example:
- Your Broadband router
- File server / NAS box
- Home automation system
- CCTV system
- WiFi Access points
- RING doorbell, and associated accounts
- Cloud storage and home automation accounts
- Management web page for your printer, scanner, router, managed switch, PABX
- Which folders you keep documents in on your computer or network
- How to setup and access your email accounts
- How two factor authentication works and what accounts you have it setup for.
- Who provides your broadband, and the account name or number
- Who services the boiler
- Web sites you have accounts with and user names and passwords (or master password to you password manager)
- What accounts you hold for banking, savings, investments, pension, live assurance
- Who insures the property
- Who insures the car(s)
- So your family have a way to access your money if you were incapacitated?
- Have to setup a lasting power of attorney?