Uh-Oh, Honey, I think we just bought a house!
Nice Job! You have made the decision to purchase a new home. You have been pre-approved for a mortgage. You have worked with real estate professionals to find the right house, get the inspection, get through attorney’s approval and are waiting to close escrow on the house of your dreams. You are doing this! This is an exciting time. If you are working with a real estate agent, they have probably gone through a checklist of items to ensure that all the I’s are dotted and the T’s crossed. Keep your eye on the ball. It is easy to get excited about decorating your new home, landscaping, and other things that you do when you move in. There is one last thing that you should be diligent with. The final walk through.
As a home inspection company, we periodically get calls from upset homeowners that something is not working or is wrong with their new home. Too often, these problems were not present at the original inspection, but have cropped up during the 45-60 days between the home inspection and closing. We often find that the things that are wrong could have been found prior to closing if the home buyers had simply slowed down and done a thorough walk-through of their property before the closing. Below are some suggestions for performing a thorough walk-through.
Check the Electrical system
Turn on lights in all rooms. Bring along an outlet tester or bring along your cell phone charger to ensure that all the electrical outlets are working. Verify that the security system, doorbells, and garage doors are working.
Run the HVAC system
One of the first things you will use when you move in will be the Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning system (HVAC). Too often, these systems fail unexpectedly. We recommend that if weather permits, you check both heating and air conditioning at the final walk through. Check heat registers (or radiators) to feel heat entering the home. Go to the exterior air conditioning unit and make sure that at least the fan is running. Better yet, listen to determine if the compressor is running. You should feel cool air coming out of the registers inside the home, and very likely warm air blowing out the top or sides of the outdoor unit (the condenser).
Test the appliances
Check all of the home’s appliances and other mechanical systems. Is there hot water? Does the dishwasher drain? Does the clothes dryer heat? Most important, is the sump pump working?
All these items are easy to check. Do not be rushed through with the assumption that nothing has changed.
What is that stain?
Look at walls, floors and ceilings for stains that were not present at the inspection or any previous walk-throughs. Stains can indicate water leaks, mold growth, or other issues.
Look closely in the bathrooms
Bathrooms are where a lot of problems start. Since the bulk of a home’s water usage is in the bathrooms, leaks, mold, and other problems often show up there first. Make sure the toilets flush!
Take a walk around outside the home. Look for loose siding or trim, damaged, or missing roof shingles, and other mechanical damage from trees, bushes, or other vegetation.
Do I need a reinspection if the homeowner had repairs done?
It depends. In our experience, many of the items that the previous homeowner agreed to repair are not done properly or are not repaired at all. It is always a good idea to get paid invoices from the contractors who performed the work. Ideally, the invoices would include a work order stating specifically what work was done. If you are not sure whether the work was done properly, contact your inspector. They may be able to guide you through what to look for.
You are almost at the finish line!
As noted above, this is not a time to let your guard down. Do not get wrapped up in what color you are going to paint Junior’s bedroom. Do that after the closing. We provide a “Pre-closing checklist” that is helpful in performing your walk through. A copy of that document is below.