The moving truck has pulled away and you’re trying to navigate around a sea of boxes, so it can only mean one thing – you’ve officially moved into your new home, so congratulations! Even if you’re a first-time homeowner, you surely don’t need to be reminded about the boxes that need unpacking, the artwork that needs hanging or the clothing that needs to be put away – and where’s the baby’s pacifier or a coffee mug when you need them? But whether you’re a moving newbie or a been-there, done-that moving veteran, it’s a smart move to add a few less-obvious tasks to your to-do list – check out the seven move-in tips below to add value to your new house and make it start to feel like home:
1. Change the locks.
This may seem like a no-brainer, but it bears repeating – change the locks immediately on your front and back doors, inner garage door and windows, preferably before you move in. Don’t neglect this task because the previous homeowner seemed kindly and trustworthy; even if you bought the home from your best friend or your mom, you never know who may have been given a copy of their key. If you’re handy, you can install new deadbolts yourself, or call a locksmith to do it for you. Some locksmiths may even allow you to buy your own locks and just charge you for labor, so it pays to ask. Don’t know where to find a trusty locksmith? Ask a neighbor, or if your community is professionally managed, your community association manager can recommend a quality provider.
2. Read up on the rules.
If you’re moving into a managed community, get off on the right foot by reading the covenants, conditions and restrictions (CC&Rs) you received before or at closing. Created by your HOA, the CC&Rs cover everything from homeowner actions (can you have more than one dog or park your pick-up truck in your driveway?) to architectural guidelines (can you build an extension to your home or erect an eight-foot fence?) to common responsibilities (what are the fee schedules and non-compliance fines?). While you may not agree with all of your community’s CC&Rs, remember that they’re there to maintain property values and ensure a harmonious environment for you and your neighbors.
3. Locate the leaks.
Even if the home inspection turned up no evidence of plumbing leaks, it’s a wise move at move-in to check for minor issues that may escalate later, like running toilets or slow drips in your sinks, bathtub and shower. To double-check, commit to using no water for a two-hour time period, and record your water meter readings before and after. If the two readings vary, there’s a leak.
4. Evict the critters.
Just because you see no evidence of flying or crawling pests, there’s no guarantee that creepy crawlers aren’t living it up behind the walls, under the baseboards or in other cozy out-of-sight locations inside your home. Even if the home was recently treated for pests, uninvited guests may have hitchhiked their way inside via your moving boxes. A qualified exterminator can apply kid- and pet-friendly treatments to keep your new home safely critter-free. Again, if you don’t know a good local exterminator, a neighbor or your property management company can provide recommendations.
5. Steam the carpets.
While cleaning and painting your home prior to move-in may have seemed obvious, what about the carpets? Clean, fresh carpeting can go a long way towards boosting your living experience right from the get-go, so steam your carpets – preferably before the furniture arrives. You can hire a professional carpet cleaning service to do the job, or if you’re a do-it-yourselfer, rent a steam cleaner from a local supermarket or home improvement store and steam away!
6. Find your circuit breaker box and main water valve.
Don’t wait until you blow a fuse or have a plumbing emergency in your home to start looking around. Before you need to know where they are, locate your circuit breaker box and determine which fuse controls which part of your house – and don’t forget to label (enlisting a friend to help makes this task a lot easier). And while you’re at it, find the main water valve and test it to make sure it can effectively cut off the water flow if necessary.
7. Get Involved.
If your new home is located within an HOA community, getting involved with your association is a great way to meet your neighbors and feel connected to your new community. You can join a committee that relates to your interests or experience (or both) or volunteer to assist your Board on neighborhood projects, like passing out flyers or drumming up support for community events. And you can even help control your community’s future or work towards changing policies you don’t agree with by standing for election to the Board of Directors – a hands-on way to help enhance your home’s value and your new community’s quality of life.
There’s so much to do when you move into a new home, and no one looks for additional tasks to take on during this busy time. But take comfort in knowing that doing things right – and right from the start – will go a long way to helping you settle in and feel very much at home, both now and in the future. For more helpful tips and insights about moving into a new home, contact FirstService Residential today.