Upon Taking Ownership
After taking ownership of your new home, there are some important maintenance and safety issues that need to be addressed as soon as possible. For a smooth transition follow these tips before you make the move.
Change the locks.
Changing the locks is the first thing you should do. You have no idea who may have sets of keys to the locks so change them out ensuring you’re the only person who has future access. In addition to the locks, change your address: with the post office, insurance company, driver’s license, banks, and the like.
Address security issues.
Check that all windows and doors are secure. Improve window hardware if necessary and install security rods to sliding windows and doors. Install a security system or, if the home already has one, now is the time to re-program the system.
Create a plan of action in the event of a fire.
Ensure that there is an operable window or door in every room of the house. Install smoke detectors on each level of the home and ensure that there is a smoke detector outside all sleeping areas. Replace batteries on any existing smoke detectors and test them. Make a note to replace batteries on January 1st of every year.
Clean, clean, and did I mention clean?
Before the moving company unpacks your belongings, have the house professionally cleaned top to bottom. Steam clean carpets and clean window treatments. Wipe down walls, counters, cabinets and drawers. Run the dishwasher and washing machine and clean the oven, refrigerator and freezer. For a quick update with lasting effect, replace all of the electrical switch plates. And have an extermination company treat the house for any uninvited guests—an especially important task if the house has been vacant for a while.
Review your Home Inspection Report
Take a careful look at your home inspection report. Upon review, be sure to address the issues that require immediate repair or improvement and take a more detailed look at issues requiring further investigation.
Contact your utility companies.
Contact your new utility companies-- electric, gas, water, sewer, garbage, telephone, cable and Internet—and get the services in your name. As soon as you know your move-in date, contact the companies and schedule to have the utilities turned on prior to your date ready and working for you upon your arrival.
Get to know your infrastructure.
Know where your main circuit breaker is and make sure all switches are labeled properly. Locate the main water shut-off valve. Familiarize yourself with your water meter and check for leaks. Easy leak detection test: read your meter at the beginning and end of a two-hour window in which no water is being used. If the reading is different, you have a leak. Have the mechanical equipment cleaned and serviced including the heating and cooling systems. Get to know the service providers who maintain these systems—it’s especially helpful to have a relationship with them in an emergency.
Create a “Moving In” Box
Create a “moving in” box for you and your family members. Pack the essentials: toilet paper, toiletries, trash bags and paper towel. Put together snacks and beverages including paper plates, cups and disposable utensils. Pack bottled water. A portable tool kit and first aid kit may be helpful. Don’t forget a flashlight, candles and matches and be sure to pack the pet’s food.
Get to know your neighbors.
Finally, not only is it the neighborly thing to do, but taking the time to introduce yourself to your next door neighbors will keep you and your new home better protected. Grab a bottle of wine—we’re in Wine Country after all—and pay a visit to your new friends.