When you’re moving into a new house, you might be tempted to just get those boxes and furniture in immediately. Not so fast!
Never again will you have the same “blank slate” of an empty house. Here are eight maintenance tasks that are easier to take care of before you move in.
1. Make Cosmetic Changes.
Any interior updates, such as painting, recarpeting, reflooring, or putting up new wallpaper, are easier prior to moving in. In fact, painting and then putting down fresh carpet can be the best of all worlds—no need to worry about paint splatters!
Think through your timing carefully, though, suggests Sarah Donawerth, a writer and tiny house enthusiast.
“Allow at least a day to air out the house before moving in; the smell of fresh paint can be overwhelming and could cause headaches or discomfort,” Donawerth says.
2. Do a Deep Clean From Top-to-Bottom.
You know what a pain it is to clean behind furniture and appliances? Now is the time to tackle everything from the ceiling on down when there’s nothing in your way. This is also the perfect time to steam clean the carpets. Trust us, it’s well worth the effort to move into a fresh, clean home.
3. Update the Ceiling.
If your ceiling is still rocking the much reviled “popcorn” look, this is the perfect time to tackle it.
“Resurfacing the ceiling is a popular home task to do before moving in because removing the popcorn is so messy that it’s a lot easier to efficiently clean it up when the house is completely empty,” says Andrew Hecox of Air Capital Roofing.
In fact, he notes you can often get a discounted price when you hire it out when the house is bare. While he says that it’s a relatively easy project to do DIY, you should still consult with a professional to make sure your ceiling doesn’t contain asbestos. And speaking of asbestos, make sure you have your home inspected and remove any of the harmful insulation that might still be lurking. Having it removed before your family moves in will ensure that no particles are floating around.
3. Change the Locks.
Definitely change all the locks for peace of mind, says Ben Mizes, CEO of Clever Real Estate.
After all, you may trust the previous owners, but often lots of others, from a gardener to a cleaning service to a handyman to a neighbor, who could have a set of keys. If your existing locks can be rekeyed, that is the easiest way to secure your home. If not, contact a locksmith or replace the deadbolts yourself.
Besides the main locks, don’t forget to change out padlocks on bike sheds or the garage in case someone made a copy. Reset the alphanumeric code on any security pads. And while we’re talking safety, make sure smoke alarms and the carbon monoxide detectors are working and have fresh new batteries installed.
4. Make Repairs Recommended in your Home Inspection Report.
Ideally a new homeowner will have had a home inspection completed as part of their home buying process and addressed any significant issues with the home before purchase, says Amanda Woolley of Porch.com. This is the time to make sure that all the items in the contract were indeed fixed as they can often be overlooked in the hustle and bustle of the sale, and you want to make sure you got your money’s worth—not to mention that you want to make sure everything is in good working order. And if the seller provided compensation rather than overseeing the work, now is the time to address those issues and make sure they are taken care of.
Review the list to see what tasks should be accomplished before you move in, depending on your budget and the immediacy of the project. Donawerth advises making a list of everything that’s been recommended, and then prioritizing which tasks are best done while the house is uninhabited, which can easily be done after you move in, and which ones you might want to postpone or ignore. Sharing a copy of the inspection report with potential contractors will allow you to get multiple quotes quickly.
5. Get a Home Warranty.
Even if you have homeowners insurance (and yes, make sure you do!), you may want to also invest in a home warranty. While insurance is designed to reimburse you for damage caused by natural disasters or theft, it doesn’t cover general wear and tear on your house or broken appliances.
A home warranty, however, covers major systems like the electrical and plumbing; built-in appliances like your dishwasher and sink; and other various elements in your house. The great news is that a home warranty isn’t only for a brand-new home—as long as you buy it when you purchase the house, it costs the same even for a home that is older, which can provide a giant dose of peace of mind.
The warranty won’t cover “pre-existing conditions,” as in, any problems that were flagged in your inspection report, or non-mechanical elements, such as windows. But be sure to ask your real estate agent if it might be right for you. In many cases you might be be able to get the seller to pay for your warranty as part of the closing.
6. Get New Toilet Seats.
Seriously. Even if you don’t have funds to change out all the appliances, this is a cheap and easy fix, even if you’re not a handyman, says Mizes.
“I don’t have to explain that toilets can get disgusting and changing the seat really makes the home feel like it’s yours,” he says.
While you are shopping for new seats, you might consider a fancy electronic bidet.
7. Be Selective About What Goes In.
Many times we’re unable to be as judicious as we’d like to be when we pack up the home—and in our haste everything goes in boxes and on the truck. But even if you packed in a hurry, don’t let that undermine the wonderfully uncluttered surfaces you’re dealing with—from cabinets to closets—by bringing in anything you don’t need.
For example, before that extra couch comes into your living room, make sure it fits with the current décor and doesn’t add bulk. And as you unpack boxes, use the adage “A place for everything, and everything in its place” with each item. And if something doesn’t have a place?
Either get rid of it, or if you’re unsure, rent a storage space to hold excess boxes or furniture items while you decide.
By taking the time to handle a few projects before you move in, you can enjoy the delight of a clean, organized, repaired home that’s ready to welcome your family.