Turning a house into a home requires a lot of hard work. Even before you start packing, there are serious items on the new homeowner’s checklist. Moving is an exciting and hectic experience, but the more you do ahead of time, the easier and more satisfying it will be.
Conduct a Home Inspection
Hiring a professional home inspector protects you from hidden costs and safety hazards. After the inspector looks over your home, they’ll write up a report on its structural integrity, appliances, electrical and plumbing systems.
It’ll give you a full rundown of the house, every major and minor issue affecting it, so you can decide whether to walk away, if the problems are too expensive, or negotiate a lower price. At the very least, it provides valuable insight you can use to budget for repairs.
In order to minimize disruptions, make as many renovations as possible before you move in. Without furniture to get in the way, you’ll find the work significantly easier. A few common improvements to consider:
Reflooring. Floors are subject to more wear and tear than anywhere in the house. If the previous owner didn’t lay down new carpet or refinish the hardwood, it’s a good idea to do it yourself. Good carpeting lasts about 10 years, while hardwood and tile can go for 20-30 years.
Painting. Repainting your home not only improves its value, it also protects against moisture damage and gives it a fresh, clean atmosphere.
New Shelving. Adding or replacing shelves creates more storage space, so you don’t wind up with boxes scattered all over your home after moving in.
Updated HVAC. As part of your home inspection, you’ll get a report on the state of your furnace and air conditioner. If they need to be replaced, make sure it’s done before you move in, otherwise your first days and nights are going to be pretty uncomfortable.
New Appliances. There are certain appliances (e.g. refrigerators, dishwashers, toilets, faucets) your home can’t function without. Make sure they’re in good working order before you move in. If they aren’t, have new ones installed before you arrive.
Do a Deep Clean
New houses are rarely as clean as they look. Real estate companies are good at cleaning the floors and windows, but miss the dirt, grime, dust, and dander that’s built up under the cupboards, behind the fridge, and along the crevices of your new home. Do certain rooms have a curious smell? They need a deep clean.
Deep cleaning doesn’t require any special skills, just time and effort. If you’ve never done one before, here’s a few guidelines to help it go a bit smoother.
Start High Then Go Low. Cleaning your floors before the ceiling most likely means you’ll end up doing the floors twice. Fans and light fixtures often contain huge amounts of dust, so always start with the ceiling and work your way down.
Spray Equal Parts Water & Vinegar. Vinegar is made from acetic acid, which makes it doubly useful as both a disinfectant and cleaning solution. It’s useful for breaking down food, grease, and mineral deposits in the kitchen and bathroom. The best mixture is three parts water and one part vinegar.
Use a Toothbrush. Toothbrushes are a great way to clean small, hard to reach areas: blinds, faucets, knobs, buttons, microwave vents, and refrigerator seals. They’re also good for scrubbing bathroom grout.
Replace Your Toilet Seat. There is no solution for stubborn toilet stains. If it’s not affected after a few minutes of scrubbing with soap, water, and vinegar, then the stain is permanent. Fortunately, toilet seats are cheap and take only a few minutes to install.
Clean Your AC Unit. Cleaning your air conditioner saves you money in the long run. Cut the power to the unit, remove the vent covers, and wash them with soap and water. Wipe down the condenser fins as well and clear away any leaves or loose grass.
Set Up Your Security System
Moving into a new home is a chance to upgrade your security system. Instead of bringing your existing setup, research the fresh options available. New technologies may provide better protection. Additionally, if you’re moving into a larger space, you may require more extensive or customized precautions.
Setting up your system ahead of time ensures peace of mind when you arrive. If you’re uncertain which one is best suited to your new home, consult a professional. They’ll do a walkthrough, assess your major entry points, and recommend possible security measures.
Many security systems can be installed on your own. Wireless systems, which can be powered with a battery pack, require hardly any effort at all. More complex systems may require a professional to wire them into your home’s electrical system.
Locate the Fuse Box & Shut Off Valve
You don’t want to be stuck stumbling around in the dark during a power failure. During a plumbing emergency, you’ll want to go straight to the shut off valve. Make sure you know where they are in case either happens.
The fuse box is normally located in the garage or basement, while the water valve will be somewhere on the perimeter of your house. If you can’t find them, check the home inspection report. The inspector will have listed both locations.