Moving into a new home and unsure what to look for to make sure your property is up to standard?
Use this checklist as a reference to ensure your new place passes inspection.
There may be a lot on your mind when looking for a new house. While there are obvious qualities one might check for, like newer appliances, nice amenities, and the like, there are other features to keep in mind that might be less visible. Many of us might prioritize the cleanliness and physical appearance of the kitchen, bathroom, and living room but could end up overlooking something like the importance of smoke detectors or a home security system.
While virtual showings are becoming more common, we always suggest an in-person viewing. This is the most accurate way to ensure that you’re crossing off must-haves on your new home checklist. It is easy to be fooled by photos taken by professionals or rooms that have been staged by expert real estate agents and interior designers.
The moving process can be daunting, but Insurify is here to help you figure out what you need to think about when considering new home essentials. Keep on reading for our new house checklist, which is especially helpful for first-time homeowners looking to compare home insurance options.
Safety Is Your #1 Priority
Sure, we all want a house that looks great, but the most important thing to consider when buying a new home is making sure that it’s safe to live in. When viewing a property, take the extra time to make sure that it has all the necessary appliances to ensure you can live with peace of mind.
When doing a walkthrough, check in every room for safety appliances and what exit strategies are possible in the case of an emergency. Even if you don’t live in an area that’s particularly prone to natural disasters, like floods, tornadoes, or earthquakes, every property is at risk of fire or collapse.
Safety appliances and features to check for:
Carbon monoxide detectors: Every home that has a fuel-burning appliance, like a gas-powered oven, stove, or fireplace, should have at least one carbon monoxide alarm. This is especially important because carbon monoxide has no smell or taste but is a poisonous gas that can kill you. Since it’s essentially undetectable by humans, be sure that your home has a detector. Breathing it can cause sickness and potentially death if you’re unknowingly breathing it at high levels.
Smoke detector: Every new home should have a smoke detector, regardless of whether it has a fuel-burning appliance. Fires can happen by accident or can be caused by someone else not living on the property, accidentally or not. While there are many ways to build a home that is less prone to fire, like using fire-resistant materials, accidents still happen and you need to be prepared. Be sure to ask that there is an alarm in addition to the detector—you want to be sure you will be alerted if smoke is detected.
Fire extinguisher: Similarly, this tool is needed in every home to prevent small accidents, like knocking over a candle in the living room, and big ones, like an oil spill from cooking in the kitchen.
Circuit breaker: Even if you’re not an expert electrician, be sure to check the circuit breaker or ask your real estate agent to show you where it is. This metal box, usually mounted to the wall, is a new home safety essential, especially in older houses. It regulates electricity flow and makes sure that overloaded circuits do not result in fires.
A Structurally Sound Building
The first thing most people usually notice when scoping out a new house is its physical appearance and nice amenities. But cosmetic issues and outdated appliances can typically be addressed in home improvements or as an easy DIY fix. It’s more important to make sure that the building has good bones and there are no structural issues that will cause problems in the long run.
If you don’t know what to look for or have little experience with distinguishing a minor renovation from a major red flag, you can also ask a chartered surveyor to investigate the property before making an offer.
Standard structural features to check for:
Mold or dampness: Does the building smell damp? Can you see dark spots or watermarks on the walls and/or ceilings? Is the plaster starting to flake off? Pay extra attention to the ceiling and around the boards by the floor, and do not be fooled by rooms that have just been repainted to cover any damp. Be sure to ask your landlord about the age of the building and when plumbing was last updated.
Cracks on the wall: Some thin, hairline cracks are ok, but big cracks across walls are points of major concern. Places to look especially close are if an extension was added to the house, walls that connect from the exterior to the terrace, and around windows. Be sure to catch any major issues early on so that you can alert your real estate agent and potentially ask the previous owner to renovate prior to your moving in.
Solid basic structural amenities: There are key pieces that make up a solid house. When considering moving to a new address, be sure that the building has:
Well-insulated and sealed windows: Check that wooden window frames are not rotten and that there is no draft when windows are shut.
A sturdy front door with a lock: Consider asking a locksmith to change the lock before you make a change of address so that the previous owner does not still have access to the property.
A recently inspected roof: Some newer roofs only last around 20 years, depending on the materials used. Be sure to ask about the age of the roof and what material it was sealed with because replacing roofs can be very costly.
Up-to-date electric outlets: Faulty wiring and old outlets can be a serious fire hazard, and rewiring your new home can be an expensive fix. Check if the fuse board needs to be replaced, too.
Solid plumbing: Ask your real estate agent if the pipes are free of lead, which is common in older homes. If you live in a colder area, also ask if the pipes are insulated. Plumbing controls more than water pressure. It also regulates the heating via radiators, the boiler, and the hot-water tank. It is important to check the water taps, but you should also ask about the age of the hot-water tank to see if it needs to be updated.
Creating a Move-In Ready Home
In our day-to-day lives, we tend to overlook the basic items that we rely on so regularly.
Here is an essentials checklist to make sure your house is live-in ready:
Bathroom, kitchen, and laundry essentials:
First aid kit
Trash bags and trash can
Also, when inspecting a property, figure whether some cosmetic issues are real red flags or just need help from some cleaning supplies and a little bit of elbow grease. Or see if an item could help, like easily throwing an area rug over some scratches on wooden floors.
Some basic cleaning supplies to have on move-in day are:
Spray bleach for kitchen and bathrooms
Multi-purpose sanitizing wipes
Cleaner suitable for wooden surfaces
Toothbrush for cleaning
Microfiber cloths and/or paper towels
Mop and bucket
In any case, you can hire a cleaning service before your move-in date if you would prefer it to be professionally cleaned. You can also ask the previous owner about doing this before switching addresses.
After considering all the major items on the new home checklist, there are some things to consider to make the busyness of move-in day a little bit smoother. If you’re a first-time homeowner, the day you move into your new place and commit to a change of address should be exciting, not stressful.
Tips to make the moving process easier:
It might be worth buying standard household items in advance from online retailers, like Amazon, and having them shipped directly to your new house or ready for pick-up. This way, you will have kitchen essentials and other basic cleaning items delivered right to your door and won’t need to worry about taking up precious space in the moving truck.
Before moving, consider making digital copies of physical important documents. Having important documents saved as files instead of loose papers saves you from keeping track of folders and filing cabinets on a hectic day. This way, you can also have backups securely stored instead of risking losing them in the moving truck.
Do your research when looking for a moving company! Check reviews and customer testimonies. The last thing you want after preparing for the entire moving process is to have your moving truck lost or delayed. Also, book your company in advance, especially if you plan to move during a busy time. A good time to consider moving is late spring to avoid packing during the holidays or summer months.
Pack up your household items and categorize them in boxes by room. This way, unpacking can be done more easily by each room, and you will know where to look for certain items. Also, pack an overnight bag the way you would for a trip. This way, even though you’re just changing addresses, you won’t be scrambling looking for your toothbrush at the end of the day through countless moving boxes.
Call service providers in advance to get your bills set up before moving in. The final step in the moving checklist should be unpacking, and it would be hard to do this in the dark without electricity, without a shower after a long day of lifting boxes, or without gas to heat up a meal.
Dress comfortably and prepare to be on your feet the entire day. It’s easy to lose track of items like your wallet and cell phone, so consider wearing a fanny pack or small pouch to keep things like your credit card and driver’s license on you at all times. It’s easy for small but important items like these to get lost in the mess of moving boxes.
The most important item on your checklist is ensuring you’ve secured sufficient homeowners insurance coverage for your new home. Get the best coverage at the best price by comparing premiums with Insurify.
Finalizing Your New Home Checklist
Keeping track of all the new home essentials —from choosing a property to buying basic cleaning supplies —can be overwhelming, but these checklists should make the moving process one to look forward to!