After closing on a house, many new homeowners feel blindsided by the accompanying moving to-do list. Given the option, few of us would volunteer to jump on a laundry list of tasks immediately following such a serious purchase.
While many chores can be completed over the years, there are a few essential tasks that should be done right away. As for the remainder, it’s important to at least familiarize yourself with the projects, appointments, and errands you’ll need to complete as you get settled in.
New Home Checklist: Pre-move
Here’s a short list of moving tips, the tasks you need to complete before moving day, and the items you’ll need to buy.
Getting your things to the new house is half of the battle. If you’re going at it alone or hiring professional movers for transport only, you’ll need packing materials and moving supplies. Gather boxes, a box cutter, tape, stretch wrap, labels, markers, packing paper, bubble wrap, scissors, trash bags, and a few small, sealable plastic bags. Most items on this list can be purchased from a packing supply store. For moving boxes, you may be able to obtain a handful from your local grocery or liquor store free of charge.
Start packing as soon as you know you’ll be moving—this will help you organize your belongings over time and prevent you from rushing to get every little item safely secured and stored in a box.
Make a list of questions to ask a moving company, ranging from liability coverage to cancellation policies. Then, contact at least three reputable moving companies for an estimate. It’s a good idea to ask the movers to perform an in-person inspection of your belongings, especially if you plan on hiring them to help pack. This will ensure the quote they give you is as accurate as possible. If you’re taking on a DIY move, you’ll be researching truck rental options and booking a moving truck.
Contact health, auto, and home insurance providers, and give your employers at least two weeks’ notice before your move. If you have school-age children, notify school officials of the move at least six weeks ahead of time and send over current school records. You’ll also want to transfer records to any healthcare providers, pharmacies, and veterinarians in your new location. You may want to also ensure that your warranty deed has been delivered to the grantee or assigned recipient after it has been recorded.
Two to three weeks before moving, contact the post office and schedule a change of address. This will help you avoid missing important bills, packages, and letters. During this time, you should also contact utility providers to give them a heads up about your move and schedule disconnect dates for gas and electricity. Don’t forget to contact your cable, internet service, and home security providers, as well.
The best time to do a clean sweep of your new home is when it’s completely empty. Take advantage of the window of time when it’s no longer occupied by the previous owner and you’re not moved in just yet, and hire a housekeeping service for a deep clean. The highest level package is usually best as it will include additional rooms like the basement and attic, as well as light fixtures, windows, closets, the refrigerator, and cupboards.
By the same token, home projects become complicated when a house is full of furniture and people. If relatively minor jobs like painting rooms, staining hardwood floors, and removing wallpaper are on your list of to-dos, have someone do the work while the house is still empty.
It’s nice to allow the paint and stain to air out while you’re not living there, and it’s even more enjoyable to move in with a fresh coat of paint or beautifully stained hardwood floors.
Kitchen and Bathroom Improvements
If the kitchen or bathroom in your new home leaves something to be desired in appearance, functionality, or storage space; the best time to tackle the project is before you move in, since these are often used rooms in the house.
Kitchen and bathroom remodels are two of the most popular home improvement projects around and can range from a new coat of paint, hardware, and accessories to full-fledged renovations with new fixtures, cabinets and countertops.
When replacing the cabinets in your kitchen or bath, select quality cabinets that will last. Be sure to include features that increase convenience—like soft close door and drawer hardware—or that allow for better organization and more storage space, such as drawer dividers and roll-out trays.
Safety and Security
Before spending the first night in your new home, make sure the house is safe and secure for you and your family.
Door and Window Locks
Check all exterior doors on your new house to make sure have quality deadbolt locks. It’s also a good idea to have the existing locks rekeyed or changed, since there may be unaccounted keys floating around from the previous owner or workers.
For added security consider replacing your existing locks with ones that have a built-in alarm.
Alarm locks are available in keyed or keypad versions and come with three alarms setting which can be set to go off if the door is opened, tampered with, or forced.
In addition, check to make sure there are secure locks on the windows of your new home, and keep them locked when the windows are closed.
Smoke and Carbon Monoxide Alarms
Replace the batteries in any existing smoke alarms in your new home, and test them to make sure they work. Locate smoke detectors near or on the ceiling in hallways next to bedrooms as well as in other areas of the house.
Since carbon monoxide is invisible and odorless, CO detectors are as important as smoke alarms in keeping your family safe.
Install CO detectors in or near each bedroom and on each level of your home. Since carbon monoxide doesn’t rise like smoke, you can install CO detectors at any height in the room.
Indoor Air Quality
With tighter house construction these days, removing moisture, odors, and indoor pollutants from your home is more important than ever. To remove contaminants and keep the air in your house fresh, install vent fans in each bathroom and a range hood in the kitchen.
Choose high-quality fans that are quiet and energy-efficient. Make sure each fan is properly sized, to provide the right amount of airflow, and vented through the roof or an exterior wall to the outside, rather than in the attic.