It's an exciting moment, walking into your brand-new home after it's finally completed. But don't let the excitement distract you from the importance of this final walk-through with the builder a few days before closing on a home. This is your chance to inspect the home, learn about the mechanics and systems, and note any areas of concern or defect.
The day of your walk-through inspection, arrive on time and in comfortable shoes - and make sure your calendar is cleared so you are free of distractions and obligations during your appointment. Be sure to bring a notebook to make a checklist, and have your smartphone handy to take photos of the items that need to be repaired, as you and your builder representative create the "punch list" of items that need attention. Point out anything you find that needs to be addressed, because after you move in, you won't be able to prove that that scratch on the kitchen countertop wasn't caused during the move-in.
Once you have a list of repairs, your builder representative (usually a customer service professional) will go over the list and have you approve it, making sure that all your items of concern are noted. Then he or she will go about alerting the correct trade contractor to come back in and correct the work. If that's after you have moved in, you will be contacted with the day and time the work will be attended to. Once the repairs or corrections are completed, you will need to sign off that the work was done satisfactorily.
Here are some things to look for during your walk-through:
• Examine all surfaces, including cabinets, counters, fixtures, floors, windows, ceilings, and walls, inside and out. Paint touchups are among the most frequently noted items.
• Turn all the faucets on and off and flush the toilets to inspect for leaks.
• Open and close windows and doors to make sure they lock and seal properly.
• Check to see whether all appliances operate, that they are the correct model and that the appliance handbook is available.
• Don't forget to inspect the entire property. Make sure the ground slopes away from the home, so as to avoid foundation problems and flooding. If the landscaping is already in place, look for dead plants and check for areas where water could pool.
The inspection, which can last an hour or two, is also your chance to ask questions about how things work. Be sure to ask where the shut-off valves are for gas, electricity and water in case of an emergency. Although your new home comes with a stack of instruction and warranty manuals, it's helpful having someone demonstrate the appliances, the heating and air conditioning and the smart-home features that come with many new houses.
During this time, the builder's representative will also go over the homeowner's maintenance responsibilities, which are often required to keep warranties in place. Often, builders will schedule a follow-up inspection soon after you've moved in and another toward the end of your first year in the home, which marks the end of the warranty for workmanship and material. Small problems, such as a popped nail in the drywall, often arise as the home settles.
During this first walk-through, ask lots of questions. You may choose to have a home inspector professional perform their own inspection of the property. If so, you will need to schedule it with the builder ahead of time before your walk-through. Then, bring along your inspection report to discuss anything of note.
By being diligent upfront, you can ensure that you will be able to enjoy your new home for years to come.