By Sharon Bloudek, March 16, 2020
Your offer has been accepted—congratulations! But hold on: before you schedule the movers for the very day you get the keys to your new place, there are several new home to-dos that it makes sense to tackle before you begin to unload boxes. Some of these you can tackle yourself; for others, it might make sense to hire a professional. As always, I can help you to find reputable service professionals for a wide variety of home maintenance tasks.
Before you move in, be sure to:
- Tackle paperwork. Yeah, I get it. Not nearly as much fun as mentally arranging furniture in your new digs, right? But you need to get homeowners insurance for your new home in order (in fact, you often can close on your new house without proof of insurance). And while you’re at it, go ahead and file your change-of-address form with the post office. You’ll still need to change your address with various entities after you move, but filing this form will ensure that important mail is automatically forwarded to your new address in the meantime.
- Change the locks. Secure your new home from the very first day you own it. This is especially important if you’re not going to immediately occupy the space but will be storing belongings. Have a locksmith change the locks on every exterior door, including those that provide access to the basement or garage. It’s worth the peace of mind—and you’ll be able to get the precise number of keys you need at the time the locks are changed.
- Change smoke detector and carbon monoxide batteries. Let’s continue with our safety theme: don’t spend a single night in your new home without first addressing this item! State law says that sellers need to replace old smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors prior to closing, but it’s best to double check it was actually done. While experts recommend putting fresh batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors twice a year—typically when the time changes in the fall and spring—you should also ensure that your new home has fresh batteries in all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before you move in. After all, you have no idea how long it has been since the previous owner tackled this task. Pro tip: add a note in your phone that lists the number of smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and the type of batteries each requires, then set recurring reminders in your calendar to replace the batteries every six months.
- Complete dreaded maintenance tasks. Harness the excitement of moving into a new home and use some of that energy to tackle tasks that you might normally dread. Why? Well, it’s much easier to clean behind and beneath the refrigerator and the washer and dryer when they’re empty and when the space around the appliances is clear. While you’re at it, replace the furnace filter, and locate the breaker box, making sure the switches are properly labeled. There’s a benefit to doing all of this just before you move in: you’ll have an easy-to-remember date for when you last did these chores. Feel like you might be forgetting something? Go back to that home inspection report and comb through it for recommendations for items you might wish to address before move-in.
- Paint. Whether the entire interior needs a fresh paint job, or merely a room here and there, it’s SO. MUCH. EASIER. to paint inside your home when the rooms are still empty. And it’s worth it to spend a little extra time (and money) to do it right: paint ceilings, trim, molding, baseboards, doors, walls—all of it. You can tackle the job yourself, or hire a professional painter. You’ll save money with DIY painting, but a professional will be able to do the job quickly, meaning you’ll be able to move in faster. You might even save money in hiring a professional if they paint while the house is empty of furniture.
- Clean the windows. Outside and inside, top to bottom, make your new home should sparkle! Hire a window cleaner to wash the windows inside and out, and to clean the window tracks and screens. This often-overlooked chore goes a long way in making your house feel like home—just wait until the first morning that you sip coffee as the sun shines in the freshly washed windows!
- Wipe down cabinets and closets. While the window cleaner is up on the ladder, arm yourself with a bucket of hot, soapy water and a rag, and wipe down closet shelves and the insides of cabinets. Take a vacuum to the insides of closets, too. When you finally begin to move your belongings into the house, you’ll know that you’re putting your things away in freshly cleaned spaces.
- Clean floors. Rent equipment or hire a professional: whatever you do, don’t move into your new house without getting the carpets shampooed and hardwood/tile floors steam cleaned. Here’s the thing: people are gross. Pets are even more gross. It’s worth getting every inch of your home—especially the floors—as clean as you possibly can.
- Replace toilet seats (or the entire toilet). Okay. I’m now revealing myself as a slight germ-o-phobe. But I know I’m not the only one! Maybe replacing the toilet seats (or the toilet) isn’t something you’ve thought about before, but I can almost guarantee you won’t be sorry. Plus, you can seize the opportunity to install a high-efficiency, water-saving toilet!
- Stock the house with day-of-move essentials. Bring over a bin containing everything you’ll need on moving day: paper towels, hand soap, garbage bags, bottled water or soda, snacks, pain reliever, a tape measure, a phone charger, and anything else you might want on hand without having to go through boxes to find.
Now you’re ready to start unpacking boxes, placing furniture, and hanging art—all the fun things that will make your new house your new home. And when you’re all settled, don’t forget to invite me to your housewarming party!