Some tasks are best handled while your home is still empty.
1. Change the locks
Before moving even one tiny piece of furniture into your new home, change the locks—or at least have them rekeyed. Numerous people have had contact with those keys over the years—best to pull access now, before a stranger shows up thinking it’s still OK to come in.
2. Change the alarm batteries
Making sure your fire and carbon monoxide detectors have fresh batteries may not seem like a pressing issue while you’re in the middle of a stressful move, but it’s the kind of thing that gets ignored and then forgotten. Better to deal with it while the home is empty and you can make a quick sweep of the house without lugging a ladder around and tripping over (or damaging) furniture.
3. Review your home inspector’s report
Inspection reports are often filed with the escrow papers, but don’t wait until something goes wrong to pull them out. A good home inspector will outline the most important issues, so use their expertise as a guide for your first few days of ownership. If they’ve marked anything particularly pressing that wasn’t addressed by the sellers, make sure to handle it before moving in.
4. Find the circuit breaker and water main
If you were present during inspection, you should know where your junction box is. If you don’t know, find it now. During a move, when you’re plugging all sorts of electrical doodads into the wall, you don’t want to be lost in the dark hunting for that elusive metal box. Once you find it, have someone move from room to room while you flip the switches. It pays to make sure the breakers are marked correctly, so have a Sharpie at the ready and make any corrections to the directory label as you go. It’s smart to find the water shut-off, too—before a burst pipe ruins your new floors.
5. Deal with water problems
Deal with any water-related issues called out in the inspection report, immediately. These tend to be troublesome because moisture problems promote dry rot (which invites termites and wood boring pests), mold growth and, with prolonged exposure, can cause permanent damage to almost every type of building material used to construct your home.
Be sure to check your roof, too! Roof leaks are particularly insidious because water doesn’t travel in a straight line. It curves and crooks, and seeps into the tiniest of crevices—often in areas far away from the original entry point. If any part of your roof is leaking, you might not know it for a while, giving the moisture plenty of time hide its origin and cause expensive damage to the structure of your home.
6. Caulk everything
Caulking is a whole lot easier if you do it when the house is empty. Check all the nooks and crannies that might need a little sealing—and don’t forget the exterior. Caulking issues occur in just about every home, and while they might seem minor now, you may notice a drafty difference in the winter. It doesn’t take long before cracking becomes an entry point for water leaks, drafts, and creepy crawly pests.
7. Plan your emergency exits
Before you begin bringing in furniture, walk through every room and decide how you would escape in an emergency. This can help you spot problem areas or rooms that need adjustments, like removing bars or adding egress windows to a basement.
8. Clean your gutters
Don’t let the dullness of this ‘out of sight’ task push you to procrastination: If the previous homeowners didn’t clean the gutters, you need to do so ASAP. Poor gutter maintenance is a top cause of roof leaks, mold growth, and attic dry rot. Since the point of a gutter is to draw rainwater away from your roofline, a clogged, damaged, or otherwise dysfunctional gutter is actually worse than having no gutters at all. A clogged gutter is very much like an overflowing bathtub, except instead of pouring a pool of water onto your bathroom floor, it’s pouring a river under your roofing shingles.
If you need help with these, or any other tasks associated with the purchase or sale of your home, give Julie a call. She has the experience to help you understand inspections, the network to connect you with a contractor to handle repairs and upgrades, and the expertise to advise you on any aspect of your real estate transaction.