4 things to do before taking possession of your new home

You decided that you didn’t want to buy an older home that had already been lived in — and decorated to someone else’s personal style — so you had one custom built exactly to your taste. You’ve been extremely patient during the building process, and now finally your brand new home is ready for you to move into.

In all the excitement, it’s easy to forget that there is a lot to do before you move in — schedule movers, pack up, change your billing address with banks and utility companies and more.

With all of that going on, it’s understandable how less obvious tasks regarding inspections, clarification on warranty and how your home’s systems work, maintenance, etc. can be forgotten. Despite not being as glamorous as the final reveal, these are some of the most important steps to remember when taking possession of your newly-built home.

Here are four things you should do prior to your possession date:


1. Inspect your home before possession 

An important step towards taking possession of your home will be the inspection in the last few days leading up to moving in. While the builder wants to have the pleasure of touring you through your new home, it’s not just so they can see the smile on your faces as you admire their handiwork.

First, they want to demonstrate to you how the different components of your home operate — such as the thermostat, furnace and hot water heater. You’ll also have new appliances you’ll need to know how to operate, maintain and service, such as a washer and dryer, stove, refrigerator and dishwasher.

Second, the builder needs to ensure every detail of the home is completed the way you had asked them to be. They will provide you with an inspection sheet during your walk-through, and anything that requires attention will be indicated on this document, which you will sign at the end of the tour.

If you see even minor corrections that need your builder’s attention, be sure to write it down. Smaller issues will be taken care of before you move in, with larger items being fixed as soon as possible (but likely after you move in). There are plenty of checklists you can find online to give you a few suggestions as to what to look for.

The written inspection sheet will remove any debate later about who is responsible for fixing an issue with the home.


2. Know the nuts and bolts

Regardless of what kind of home you purchase, whether new or resale, it’s important to have a good understanding of how your home works. The better you know how to use the systems and appliances, the easier it will be to adapt and know what to do in the event something isn’t working quite right.

There is another valuable reason for educating yourself on how your newly built home works —avoiding the risk of invalidating your new home warranty. This protection will save you money should anything malfunction or simply stop working. However, should you break your hot water tank because you didn’t know how to operate it properly, the builder will not cover these damages. Avoid costly repairs because you didn’t know how to work something — learn the basics.

As mentioned above, your builder will instruct you on how to use these components during the inspection prior to taking possession of your home.

However, if the excitement of moving into your new home caused you to miss out on some important details, don’t panic! Your home builder will provide you with a homeowner’s guide that will outline all the important information you need about your home and how to maintain it properly.


3. Post-possession processes 

What do you do if an issue arises with the home after you’ve moved in? Will it be covered from faulty construction or malfunctioning components? Don’t worry. As long as the issue wasn’t caused by the homeowner’s misuse or from general wear and tear (as mentioned above), your new home warranty will protect you from paying for costly repairs.

Consult with your home builder to learn the process for dealing with these after-sales service issues. Because the first year is when a new home typically settles, there may be some minor repairs required. This is completely normal. They will advise you as to what types of issues may arise, as well as how quickly you can expect them to fix it.

Unless it’s an emergency, you can usually expect minor issues to be corrected fairly quickly, while larger repairs may require some time to schedule contractors to perform the work.


4. Take care of your investment

A new home is arguably the largest purchase you will ever make, so it’s important to take care of it. Doing so will maximize your enjoyment of your home, as well as increase its value when it comes time to sell.

In addition to ensuring you understand how to use the heating, electrical and water systems and other appliances in your home, you will want to be aware of seasonal tasks you can complete to ensure it is well-maintained. This could be as simple as testing your fire detector regularly or checking your furnace filter on a monthly basis, or as big as cleaning eavestroughs annually.

The timeframe leading up to the possession of your new home can feel hectic and rushed. Despite how pressed for time you may feel, be sure to spare some in favour of learning to operate and maintain your home. Not only will this keep your home running smoothly, but most importantly, provide you with some well-deserved peace of mind.

— Realtor.ca