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If you’re a DIY enthusiast like us, you can’t wait to put your own stamp on a new home after closing. Unless you want to live in a construction zone, however, there are certain projects you’ll want to tackle before you move in.
Sorting out the when, where and how of these projects can be the difference between a smooth move-in process and some serious frustration down the road. Here are a few ways to help you prioritize your do-it-yourself home projects.
1. Make A Plan
The first step is to make a list. When you viewed the house, you probably took note of certain features you’d like to improve. Write everything down, prioritize those projects and rank them according to urgency. As you think about what will need to be done before move-in and what can be tackled down the road, consult a moving checklist. According to moving expert Jonathan Deesing of imove.com, "The process of listing every item in your home not only allows you to keep track of your stuff, but it's also a great exercise to visualize where everything should go in your new home."
2. Update Security Features
Features that keep your family and possessions safe like locks and smoke detectors are some of the first items that you’ll want to update in your new home, ideally before moving in. Be sure to hire a local locksmith to switch the locks on all doors. Additionally, it’s crucial for your safety to test all smoke and carbon monoxide detectors before moving in.
Check to see if your new home already has a security system and if it’s under contract with a monitoring company. If the system is an outdated, wired system, you may want to replace it with a wireless one, complete with the modern security features available today. Most wireless security systems can be controlled by your smartphone and can easily replace hard-wired security systems—and the contracts that go with them.
3. Redo the Ceilings & Walls
Many homeowners move into a new place only to update the walls and ceilings just days later. Bad idea. Updating your ceiling will create a mess on everything below, while painting your walls after your move in will result in you tripping over furniture for days on end. Instead, give the walls a fresh coat of paint before you settle in. You may also want to remove “popcorn ceilings,” or those sprayed-on textures that achieved widespread popularity from the ‘50s to late ‘80s. With a ceiling texture scraper, a spray can and a few other home tools, removing a popcorn ceiling is little more than a weekend project. Just do your research about possible toxic materials.
4. Check for Toxic Materials
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You may be the world’s foremost DIY expert, but if there’s one thing that requires hiring a professional, it’s checking for toxic materials like lead paint and asbestos. If your home was built before 1978, it may contain lead paint both inside and outside. This can pose a health risk if you’re stripping paint off of walls and starting from scratch. Before your project, you will need to hire a certified inspector to check for and mitigate any risks. Similarly, pre-1978 homes commonly contain asbestos in insulation, siding, walls, floors and roofing. There is only a risk to your health when these materials are tampered with, so you will want to hire a professional asbestos consultant before undergoing a major remodeling project.
5. Redo the Kitchen & Bathrooms
Sure, you can get around a bedroom renovation by sleeping on the couch, but how can you live without a kitchen or a bathroom? If you want to remodel these essential rooms, it is best to do so before you move in. Unless you are planning to manage this project yourself, you will want to negotiate your remodel with a contractor as far in advance of your move-in as possible. This will help speed the project along and ensure that you can move in at the earliest possible date.
6. Take Care of Legal Issues
New homeowners often become so preoccupied with the logistics of moving that they forget about the legal issues involved. If you are hiring contractors, it is always a good idea to sign a contract in advance that details the scope and timeframe of the project, the provided materials and labor and licensing information from the contractor. You may also need to secure permits for any major renovations. This can even include projects internal to your home like kitchen remodels, so be sure to check with your local municipality about permit requirements.
If you’re looking for professional help before moving into a new home, ImproveNet can help. Head to their online contractor database to get quotes from a home improvement professional. They help homeowners find cleaners, flooring experts, general contractors and any other professionals who can put first-rate finishing touches on any new home.