New House Checklist: What to Do Before Moving In

After all the paperwork, long nights, and the back and forth with your real estate agent – you did it, you have the keys to your new home. So what’s next? You may have the urge to start making your house a home, but before you jump into it, there are a few important things to consider on your new house checklist. From scheduling cleaners and coordinating movers to researching home improvement projects, there are many things to do before moving into your new house.

This is where a new house checklist comes in. We created a checklist that outlines what tasks to complete when you should complete them, and what essentials you need. So whether you are moving into a new house in Phoenix, AZ, or need a new house checklist in Portland, OR, read on to see what to consider.

New house checklist

Preparation is key when it comes to moving. Make sure you give yourself ample time to accomplish these tasks before getting settled in your new place. Some of these items can actually be completed or scheduled before your move. Time to get started checking off tasks!

Transfer utilities before closing
Schedule movers
Update your mailing address
Set up internet, cable, and appliances
Keep in mind the layout of your home as you buy furniture
Locate the circuit breaker and water valve
Change locks and invest in a home security system
Deep clean each room
Prioritize home improvement projects
Stock each room with home essentials
Create an organization system

1) Transfer utilities before closing

The first priority for your new house is to change the utilities to your name. Doing this will guarantee that electricity, garbage, water, and gas are up and running by the time you open the door. When exactly should you cross this item off your to-do list?

You should contact your utility companies at least two weeks before your move-in date. It takes a few weeks for accounts to switch over depending on the city so it is good to get this handled prior to moving. Once the account is in your name, you will have one less thing to worry about during your move.

A Couple going over a new house checklist

2) Schedule movers 

Having an extra hand when it comes to moving will take the weight off your shoulders and allow you to relax. Scheduling movers from a reputable company will guarantee your furnishings are handled with care and will also help with loading items into your home. 

When hiring movers, Gozova encourages you to “be wary of the upfront appeal of hourly prices. Even though they tend to look more attractive than flat rates, unpredictable variables such as traffic can quickly blow your budget and make what was supposed to be a smooth experience go sideways.” They continue by saying, “We recommend you go for a moving company that offers flat-rate pricing, since no matter what unexpected roadblocks arise, the agreed-upon price will stand, and you will not pay for any additional charges.”

3) Update your mailing address

Having an up-to-date mailing address is very important. You’ll want to notify the right people and places about your move and it’s better to do this earlier rather than later. You don’t want to miss a bill payment because the notice was sent to your old address. Here’s a list of the top people you’ll want to give a heads up to forward your mail:

  • the post office
  • tax agencies
  • utility companies
  • insurance providers
  • your employer
  • your bank
  • credit card companies
  • loan providers
  • online shopping sites

Also, don’t forget to give your new address to friends and family so they can help you unpack and congratulate you on your new home.

4) Set up internet, cable, and appliances

Setting up internet and cable may be one of the first things you’ll want to do in your new home. Especially if you’re working from home. Research different companies and consider plans that work with your lifestyle and have a strong connection in your area.

Since creating a new account can take some time, try to schedule an installation a few weeks in advance of when you need it. It is also a good idea to confirm all your appliances are up and running in your new home. Including refrigerators, dishwashers, ovens, washers, and dryers. You’ll likely start using your fridge and microwave on the first night.

Dining room furniture layout

5) Consider the layout of your new home and research new furniture you may need

Before the furnishings are brought to your new home, it is important to go room by room and visualize how your existing furniture will work with the layout. Maybe your new home includes a bonus room, a garage, or even a larger outdoor space. Knowing how the different layouts your new home provides will help you get a feel of what you may need.

If you are moving with children, establish necessary precautions for their safety. This includes locating outlets, sharp edges, and anything around that could cause them harm. If you are moving with pets, make sure to get right back to their routines as this will help your pet adapt to their new surroundings.

6) Locate the circuit breaker and water valve 

In case of an emergency, you’ll want to know where the circuit breaker and water valve are located. Knowing where these two things are in your home will help in any situations where an emergency shut off or a reset is needed. You can typically find the water valve in the basement or crawl space, the garage, or on an exterior wall. As for the circuit breaker, it is generally in an area of your home that is tucked away such as a closet, basement, or garage. Also, take note of all the smoke detectors and carbon monoxide detectors so you can keep up with the required maintenance.

7) Change locks and invest in a home security system

When you move into a new home, it’s important to change the locks to the doors, garage, and invest in home security. There is no telling how many key copies the previous owners had, so it’s always better to get new ones. Changing the locks doesn’t have to be difficult. Reinstall the locks on your own or seek professional guidance from a locksmith to ensure you are kept safe. Protect your home even more by investing in home security. Whether that’s with a professional company or a smart doorbell, there are many options to help you stay safe.

“Imagine you have just moved into your new home. Safely tucked into bed for the night, you hear someone entering a key into your front door, turning the lock, and entering your home. You run down to see who is entering and a stranger is standing in your foyer,” says Rita Lawrence, the director at All Secure Lock & Security.

Lawrence goes on to express the importance of home security by saying, “You quickly realize that this person had a spare key to the previous occupant’s home and now they have access to your home. For just a few dollars and a phone call, you can avoid this scenario from ever happening by simply rekeying the locks and updating other security systems when moving into your new home. Companies may even provide a free audit to ensure all areas of vulnerability in your home have been reviewed.”

8) Deep clean each room 

One thing to consider is deep cleaning each room of your new home. To ensure that no parts of the home are overlooked, scheduling a professional cleaning service can relieve stress. And if that’s not in your budget, a little elbow grease, and cleaning supplies can go a long way. Deep cleaning will ensure a clean slate for your new home.

Noble Air which specializes in duct cleaning and installation in the Austin, TX area explains the importance of cleaning a home’s ductwork. They go on to say, “Many people think that only the dust in air ducts is what causes poor indoor air quality and allergies, but in truth, the source of everything comes from where they connect to your A/C system. Specifically in the evaporator coil and the plenum box which can contain mold and other harmful bacteria that cause damage, odor, and can make you sneeze and cough quite a bit.” 

There are signs to look for when things aren’t clean in your new home, Nobile Air continues by stating “If you are uncertain about what is the condition of your ductwork or see marks on the vent covers on the ceiling, you might want to call a professional for an inspection and treatment when necessary. When trying to maintain fine indoor air quality, use good grade filters and make sure they fit properly in the intake, it can make a huge difference.” There can be no telling how the previous owner cleaned the home, so checking off deep cleaning can be a great help in the moving process.

Moving into a new house checklist_2

9) Assess home improvements to tackle  

Of course not every home is perfect, and you may have considered a number of potential home improvement projects while touring the property. From replacing your floors to new cabinetry, the possibilities are endless when designing your dream home.

Start from the floor up:

Capital Fund 1, an asset-based lender provides the advice, “Consider starting from the floor up. Installing new flooring gets more difficult after moving in.” Depending on the size of the project, it is essential that you take time to budget. Budget before any surprises arise, and set time aside for the completion of any remodels. 

Consider the center room:

“Before embarking on any remodel, we recommend considering which rooms in your house you’ll spend the most time in and what projects would be most difficult to manage once all your furniture is in the house,” says Anne Sneed from Anne Sneed Architectural Interiors who specializes in creating authentic, inspiring spaces. Sneed goes on to say, “For most people, the kitchen is the center of daily life, so it’s a good one to knock out before you’re living in a home, and you can make the project as big or small as you want. If you have a limited budget, fresh paint and new hardware in any room can make a big difference, and for larger remodels, consult a professional designer or architect and contractor early in the process.”

Total home remodel:

For those wanting a total home remodel before they move in, Peter Michalsky from Wadia Associates suggests receiving the plans of the home so you can decide on what changes you want down the road. Michalsky goes on to say, “Get a copy of the site survey for your property; this will help you avoid any pitfalls with zoning or your new neighbors before you put up fences, place plantings, install a pool, or build outbuildings.” Planning ahead will help you avoid any problems that may arise in the future. Michalsky continues by saying “Go to the AIA website to find a reputable architect in your area, and get at least 3-5 references before you begin any renovation.”

Kitchen stocked with essentials

10) Stock each room with essentials

You likely won’t unpack every box by the first night of move-in, so you’ll want to pack a box of household essentials for each room. Go room by room and see what you may need within the first week of moving into a new house. To get you thinking, consider:

Bathroom essentials: Towels, toilet paper, toiletries, shower curtain, toilet cleaner, plunger

Kitchen essentials: Easy meals, trash bags, dish soap, dishcloths, glassware, cookware, utensils, coffee maker

Laundry room essentials: Detergent, hamper, ironing board, iron

Bedroom essentials: Bedding, hangers, pillows, blankets, a week’s worth of clothes

Other essentials: Light bulbs, batteries, tape, nails, trash cans, cleaning supplies, lighters, flashlights, and phone chargers

And for those moving with pets, Blake Fitzpatrick, the owner of Sarasota Sunshine Movers, suggests ways to ease your pets’ anxiety. To prepare them for the unfamiliar Fitzpatrick states, “One way to help prevent anxiety, is to take your furry friend with you to see the new home. If you are taking items from one house to the new house, we recommend bringing your pet along to see where all their stuff is going. This will almost always help calm your pet, reducing anxiety.”

11) Create an organization system for your new house checklist

With all of your belongings packed away in various boxes and locations, there is no denying that your new home is about to get messy. Creating an organization system will help you unpack each room one by one. You probably – and hopefully – have already labeled your boxes and placed them in corresponding rooms. But consider having a notepad of what boxes and items belong in each room to keep inventory. Having a new house checklist will help the unpacking process flow more smoothly. A home maintenance checklist will also help you stay organized down the road, and make your life easier.

Preparing yourself for a new home can go a long way, and with this new house checklist, you’ll be one step closer to making your new house a home.

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