What to do after the movers leave
Purchasing a new home is thrilling, but once the novelty wears off, it can be hard to know what to do next when you’re faced with a mountain of unpacked boxes and an ever-growing to-do list. Once you’ve called the utility companies and changed your address, it may seem like every other project is equally urgent.
No worries: We’ll fill you in on the to-dos to tackle immediately so you can start making your house a home.
It’s incredibly common for new homeowners to wait months or even years before fully unpacking. We’ve all seen moving boxes littering basements, attics, and closets. But the sooner you put away your belongings, the more quickly you’ll feel at home. Unload your boxes and arrange everything in its proper places. Donate any items you no longer want and recycle moving boxes.
If you’re still not sure where to start, begin with the rooms you use the most often. So, maybe you don’t know the layout of your spare bedroom yet, but you can tackle unpacking the kitchen right away. Making calls like these can prevent you from any decision anxiety and get you well on your way to unpacking the whole home.
2. Get to Know Your New Home
Take the time to learn about your new home’s systems, including the septic and sewer systems, any alarms, and more. Ask the former owner what companies and services they used and find out when these contractors last paid visits. Depending on what you learn, it might be time to call the well service, generator, or propane company to service your home.
3. Childproof and Pet-Proof
If you have young children or pets, don’t put off childproofing and pet-proofing your new home. Cover electrical outlets, install safety gates, add door covers and childproof latches, secure furniture to the wall, and more. Put in a pet door and make sure all of your furry friends' favorite toys and food bowls have their own special place.
Not only will these steps help check something off of your list, but they will also ensure everyone in your new home feels comfortable.
4. Cover Windows
For privacy and screening out the morning sun, put up temporary window treatments, like paper blinds. These temporary measures ensure you’ll be able to take your time to figure out exactly what types of window coverings you’d like. Measure all your windows, and when the time comes, order permanent window treatments, whether blinds, drapes, or shades.
5. Upgrade Your Mailbox
If your new home’s mailbox is in bad shape, replace it. Immediately call a local mailbox installer and order a new mailbox, coordinating it with the house’s façade. If you plan to revamp the home’s exterior but aren’t sure yet how, go with a neutral, versatile color, like black or white. If the mailbox is in decent condition, make sure the numbering is easy to read.
6. Call the Locksmith
To feel secure, you’ll most likely want to change the locks. When doing so, add deadbolts to any exterior doors and have your local locksmith make three or more copies of your keys. Label them clearly and consider giving a set to a trusted neighbor or friend. On a similar note, change the code for the garage door opener.
7. Install a Security System
If the home doesn’t already have an alarm, hire a home security service near you to put in a system. Ideally, it will include smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors—check to ensure all these devices are working properly and change their batteries, if necessary. To deter potential thieves, mount stickers or signs saying that your home is protected.
8. Fix Any Issues From the Inspection
Take care of any urgent issues that your home inspector identified. If your new property has radon, put in a radon mitigation system. If your new home’s water is hard, consider installing a softening system. Take care to hire a pro to remove any mold or asbestos if you know either is present in your new home.
Although the inspector should have checked the plumbing, you might still want to reach out to the gas company to look at all the home’s lines and connections. Similarly, consider calling an HVAC technician near you to service your AC or heat, depending on the season.
9. Upgrade the Electrical System
Have an electrician ensure that all the relevant outlets are ground fault circuit interrupters (GFCI). They should also check that the wiring is safe and add new outlets, if necessary. If the home’s circuit breaker box is outdated, you might want to replace it. While the electrician is on-site, have them install any light fixtures you need.
10. Hire a Plumber
Although by no means a necessity, hiring a pro to replace your toilets could make a lot of sense—especially if these fixtures are old, dingy, or low. At the very least, swap out the toilet seats.
While the plumber is there, you can have them inspect your systems and get quotes for any upcoming projects where you may need their help.
11. Replace Flooring
In an ideal world, if you’re planning on giving your home a new look, you’d swap out flooring before moving in. Rip out any outdated carpeting or worn flooring and replace it.
Even if you’re not sure of your long-term plans, you’ll want to remove wall-to-wall carpeting in bathrooms, for instance—this formerly popular practice promotes mold growth. If staircases are bare, cover them with runners for safety.
12. Put in Molding
Another optional project to add character and make your home look more finished and upscale is to install wall, ceiling, floor, door, and window molding. To save time, if you’re planning on taking on this project, consider whether you’ll install crown, casing, or chair rail molding prior to moving in.
One of the last to-dos on your list should be to paint. This way, you won’t damage your newly pristine walls while moving. To get a head start on this task, start picking out colors before or right after you move in. Buy peel and stick paint samples and put them up on walls or paint small areas with your potential colors. Then see how these spots look at different times of the day.
Hire a cleaning service to make your new home spick and span. Again, this should ideally be tackled before you actually move in. Local cleaning services will be well-aware of everything that goes into cleaning a home for new owners, as this is a common service, but if you have any special requests, be sure to note them.
15. Set Up Outdoor Maintenance
If your home has a pool, call a pool company near you to service it—it can take up to two weeks from opening to being swim-ready. For large properties with extensive landscaping, hire someone to put in a sprinkler system, and schedule regular landscaping services to keep your backyard barbecue ready.