It’s time—you’re ready to sign the paperwork making you the owner of a newly built home! Although you’ve done the walkthroughs and you are ready to move in, you need to take just one more step. But it’s an important one.
Before you sign on the dotted line, make sure you’ve done one more inspection of the home (we know, SO many inspections) to make sure everything in your contract is to spec and to catch any last-minute fixes that are needed. A pre-closing inspection will ensure that your new home is exactly what you wanted. To help you inspect your new home, we’ve created a checklist of things to keep in mind before you head to the closing table.
Keep in mind that this list includes reminders for the home’s interiors, exteriors and everything in between.
First Things First
Before you head out to inspect your home, make sure you bring the following items:
- Contract — This will help you confirm that anything agreed to in writing has been applied, installed, etc.
- Notebook — Helps you to take notes, of course!
- Camera — Get photos of anything still needing to be completed or anything in need of repair.
- Punch list — Ideally, you will have a completed punch list from your builder before closing, but you should bring this to discuss any questions or concerns about timing or outstanding items.
- Level — To make sure things, from floors to counters to windowsills, are level.
- Binoculars — While you can’t climb the roof, you can inspect the roof from the ground.
- Certificate of Occupancy — Ask your builder to supply one so you know your home meets city regulations and is cleared for occupancy.
- User manuals — Ask your builder for copies, so you know how to use every item (appliances, security systems, etc.) in your home. Ask for a step-by-step tour of how to correctly operate and maintain these items.
You want your home to look great, but you should also make sure that it is structurally sound and that there are no holes on the outside of your home or loose shingles on the roof. Here’s a quick list of items to check before you close on your home:
- Check drainage. Does rain water flow away from the home? Are there any standing puddles? Do window wells drain properly? Do downspouts have splash blocks?
- Any loose or flapping roof shingles, loose siding, trim or shutters? Are railings solid?
- Are roof vents or exhausts obstructed?
- Are vents, power and A/C line intrusions in the siding weather sealed?
- Any chips or gaps in brick, stone trim, sidewalks or driveway? Are there any cracks (more than 1/8 inch) in the foundation?
- Are there screens on all windows and/or doors?
- Did the builder follow your prescribed landscape plan?
Walk through your new home as though you were living there. Open the doors, cabinets and windows, and view the house from the street during the day and in the evening. Go up and down stairs if you have them. Doing simple things from your everyday life will help you understand how your new home will live; you don’t want to deal with squeaky floors, a stuck drawer or other inconveniences. That’s part of why you purchased a new home, so use this list to make sure your new home’s interior is in the best shape that it can be:
Windows and Doors
- Check all doors, windows and locks (including sliding doors, garage door and shower doors). Do they work smoothly? Any broken glass or missing or ripped screens? Any condensation inside double-paned windows (a sign of a broken seal)? Are there any gaps between the door and the floor?
- Can you easily lock and unlock exterior doors?
- Are they all weather-stripped and caulked?
- Does weather-stripping provide a tight seal?
- Do all the interior door styles match?
- Does the garage door work correctly? Is the remote in proper working order?
- Does the doorbell work correctly?
Walls, Ceilings and Floors
- Check for nail pops, drywall seam lines, nicks, blotches or missed spots in the paint.
- Check for any gaps or cracks in the trim.
- Check floors for squeaks and flooring for loose carpeting, ripples in vinyl coverings, gaps or chips in wood flooring, and cracks or missing grout in ceramic tile.
- Does the flooring have any discoloration or stains?
- Is the paint color that you ordered correct?
Kitchen and Baths
- Check that all appliances (don’t forget the garbage disposal and range hood fan and light), plumbing fixtures, tubs and showers (including any whirlpool/spa tubs) work properly (check both hot and cold water, as well as the water pressure). Are they the models/styles/color you ordered? Any scratches or scuffs? Are fixtures properly caulked?
- Check the stove and oven to ensure they heat properly.
- Check cabinets, countertops and mirrors for marks or scratches.
- Check that cabinet hinges and drawer slides work properly. Are the doors aligned? Are the cabinet accessories and hardware what you ordered?
- Are all cabinets and shelving level?
- Check the range hood to ensure it’s been properly installed and works correctly.
- Check the bathroom exhaust fan to ensure it is working properly.
- Flush toilets so you know they are working correctly.
- Make sure you know where the main water shut-off valve is located and how and when to use it.
- Use a plug-tester or better yet, your phone’s charger or other small appliance you use daily, to see that all electrical outlets and GFCI receptacles are live. Check that all electronic items work, including interior and exterior lights; cable, Internet and phone jacks; exhaust fans; ceiling fans; security or intercom system; doorbell; and garage door opener.
- Test the furnace, air conditioner and water heater.
- Does the fireplace gas line, fan, damper and draft work?
- Are all switch plates straight and in the same color?
- Does every light work? Are the correct bulbs installed?
- If you have a smart home, is everything installed and working as expected?
- Make sure you know where the electrical breaker panel is and how and when to use it.
Basement and Attic
- Any cracks (larger than hairline size) or signs of leaks in the foundation?
- Are stair handrails solid and secure?
- Is attic insulation properly installed?
- Does the basement light work?
- Check for signs of water damage.
This checklist will get you closer to closing on your new home. Don’t be afraid to discuss anything on the list with your builder. Once you have checked off everything on this list, you’ll be ready to close on your beautiful new home.
Patricia L. Garcia is an award-winning freelance journalist who has written for NewHomeSource, the Associated Press, New Mexico magazine and the Texas Bar Journal. When not writing, she can be found in the garden, battling weeds and high-desert heat.