The time has finally arrived. After months of back and forth decision-making and construction, you are one step away from being handed the keys to your custom-built dream home. It is time for the final walk-through. All you have to do is look around and sign off on your completed house, right? Wrong!
The final walk-through is a critical step in the building process of your home. This is not the time to leisurely stroll through the house admiring the beautiful fixtures you have chosen for aesthetic appeal; this is the time to inspect the property with the critical eye of a homebuyer. You want the home to function properly and remain structurally sound as well as have the beauty and charm you’ve been dreaming of. Keep in mind that once the house has been signed for, the builder is released of all obligations to the property. Before this happens, make sure the house is free of damages, all features of the home function appropriately, and you have all the necessary paperwork in hand. Ask yourself and your homebuilder these seven questions during your final walk-through.
1) Does the surrounding ground slope away from the foundation of the house?
When you first arrive at your property, do not overlook the crucial exterior components of the home. As eager as you may be to look inside, take a good amount of time to critically inspect the exterior of the home. Ask your builder as well as personally observe whether the surrounding property slopes away from the home’s foundation. If there is no existing slope, serious problems could result in the future. The home could experience major water damage in the event of a heavy rain, and over time, foundation problems could begin to occur due to improper drainage. The preexisting slope may settle somewhat but should be noticeable at the time of the final walk-through.
2) Is the exterior of the home, including the roof, siding, and landscaping, in the proper condition?
Take a good amount of time to examine the exterior of your home. Be sure that there are no cracks in your driveway, sidewalks, siding, or windows. Make sure that windows and doors look properly sealed around their edges, and spend a good amount of time observing the roof. Walk around the entirety of the house looking for any shingles that are not lying flat and tight on the roof. Make sure all gutters are securely intact and properly positioned so that any water drainage would be directed away from the foundation. Once you are satisfied with the exterior of the physical home, make sure all landscaping has been completed in accordance with your building contract. Keep in mind the season the home is completed in, as well as what situations you may face in different seasons of the year. If you sign for the home in winter, you may not be able to expect all of the agreed upon foliage in the yard, so be sure to discuss with your builder how the landscaping can be completed in warmer months.
3) Are there any cracks, chips, or imperfections in the interior of the house?
Finally getting to walk through your custom-built home is perhaps the most exciting portion of the building process. However, this moment should not be taken lightly. This is your time to get meticulous, making sure all aspects of the home have been completed in accordance with the agreed upon standards. Thoroughly check each room for any imperfections. Closely observe all surfaces—flooring, walls, doors, countertops, cabinets, and trim—to make sure no inadequacies exist. If you notice any cracks or chips, be sure to document them and bring them to the attention of your builder.
The installation process can often have its mistakes, and it is imperative that you as a homebuyer check the house in detail before moving in. Not only is it easier for builders to work in an empty space, but once you have lived in the home, it becomes more difficult to determine whether any imperfections found were created by the builder and the installation team or by those residing in the home, so be very thorough. It can be extremely beneficial for you to bring a camera to take pictures for reference.
4) Are all materials used in the home the materials specified within the home contract?
While looking for imperfections, make sure all materials used in the construction of your home are the agreed upon materials from your contract. This includes flooring, countertops, cabinets, trim, paint colors, windowpanes, doors, handles and knobs, backsplash, and grout. This is not the time to decide you don’t like the paint color you previously chose, as your builder is only obligated to have the home in the agreed upon condition, but this is your chance to make sure all aspects of the home are in order. If you have questions about anything, don’t be afraid to discuss it with your builder.
5) How do all of the home’s systems work?
Your new house will be full of various systems and functions that you as a homeowner need to become familiar with. Although you will receive manuals detailing the usage and care of all systems in your home, take this opportunity to directly ask the builder to show you how each specific system works. Check that the furnace, water faucets, and electrical outlets are all in working condition, and ask your builder while he/she is present how to appropriately operate each system. Have him or her turn each system on and off and walk you through the system’s upkeep.
Once you have officially signed for your home, the builder is relieved of all obligations for the home, apart from any malfunctions covered in your warranty. For this reason, it is important to understand the proper care of all functions associated with the house. Warranty standards must be maintained in the event you ever make a claim.
6) What are the conditions of the house’s warranty?
Although you may have already discussed the terms of your warranty during the building process, it is a good idea to go over them again, making sure you know what the warranty covers and how long it covers these materials. Since your warranty only covers a home that has been maintained according to its standards, it is crucial to understand what is covered under your warranty and the proper care of each system or item that is covered. And in case the time comes when you may have to file a claim on any item, discuss the proper procedure for filing a claim with your builder.
7) Do I have the house’s certificate of occupancy?
Before signing for your home, make sure you have received your certificate of occupancy (CO). This document certifies that your home has been built in accordance with all regulations, codes, and laws as well as deems the condition of your home safe to live in. You cannot legally take up residence in your home if your CO has not been issued, so make sure you have been handed this document before closing. This paperwork is often also necessary for insurance companies or financing.
Now that you have a good idea of what to look for during your final walk-through, make sure to set aside adequate time to complete your home evaluation. Do not feel rushed. After months of decisions and labor, take the time to make sure that what you have asked for is what you are getting. Come prepared, and ask as many questions as you need to feel comfortable. If you are unsure about anything, do not hesitate to bring it up. Most importantly, get excited. You are about to move in to your brand new home.
Contact Parker Built Homes today to get started on your new home.