You're getting ready to close on your first new home purchase, and all that stands in the way of your home ownership is the pre-settlement walk-through. While your excitement is understandable, the home is yours once you close on your loan, so be sure your expectations and the sales contract specifications have been met. Pay special attention during your walk-through to be sure that the builder has made any changes or repairs indicated in the home inspection and to ascertain that all the required work on your new home has been completed. Here's a check list to help you through this process.
- Does the ground around the foundation slope away from the house?
- Make sure the water does not pond in swales. To check, water the areas with a hose, if possible.
- Are there signs of erosion?
- Is the shrubbery placed at least 2-3 feet from the foundation?
- If the house has a basement, are the basement window wells clean and graveled?
Roof and Gutters
- Are the shingles flat and tight?
- Is the flashing securely in place?
- Do the gutters, downspouts, and splash blocks direct water away from the house?
- Are the windows and doors sealed and protected by weatherstripping?
- Are the trim and fittings tight? Are there any cracks?
- Does the paint cover the surface and trim smoothly?
- Has landscaping been installed according to the terms of your contract?
Doors and Windows
- Are all doors and windows sealed?
- Do they open and close easily?
- Is the glass properly in place? Any loose or cracked glass?
- Is the painting satisfactory in all rooms, closets, and stairways?
- Did the painters miss any spots?
- Are the trim and molding in place?
- Is the carpet tight? Do the seams match?
- Are there any ridges or seam gaps in vinyl tile or linoleum?
- Are wooden floors properly finished?
Appliances, Fixtures, Surfaces, Etc.
- Do all of the appliances operate properly?
- Are all of the appliances the model and color you ordered?
- Check all faucets and plumbing fixtures, including toilets and showers, to make sure they operate properly.
- Check all electrical fixtures and outlets. Bring a hair dryer to test the outlets.
- Do the heating, cooling, and water heating units operate properly? Test them to make sure.
- If the home has a fireplace, does the draft and damper work?
- Are there any nicks, scratches, cracks, or burns on any surfaces, including cabinets and countertops?
- Test the doorbell. Also test the intercom system, garage door opener, and any other optional items.
Basement and Attic
- Are there indications of dampness or leaks?
- Is there significant cracking in the floors or foundation walls?
- Are there any obvious defects in exposed components, such as floor joists, I-beams, support columns, insulation, heating ducts, plumbing, electrical, etc.?
Certificate of Occupancy
- Has your local municipality signed off on your house?
Some problems may not be readily apparent during the walk-through. Even a professional inspector might miss a few. Most warranties cover any such problems that are the result of faulty workmanship. However, warranties usually exclude problems that result from owner neglect or improper maintenance.