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Making The Most Of Your New Home Orientation
by Karen Garlington
Congratulations! You're about to move into your brand new home. Of course, before moving day arrives you'll need to complete the last step in the purchase process -- the home orientation. Many buyers don't fully understand the purpose of the home orientation, or walk-through, as it's also referred to. This is not a time to show your new home to friends and family, but rather an opportunity to learn about all of your home's features and check for potential problems or defects.
How can you make the most of your home orientation? For starters, you'll want to allow plenty of time -- plan for two to four hours, depending upon the size of the home. If you have children, it's a good idea to leave them with a sitter so you can focus all of your attention on getting to know your new home. During the summer, you may want to bring a drink, as you will be spending a portion of the time outdoors.
Prior to making the appointment with the builder, you'll want to be sure everything is in place to make your orientation a success. First, the house should be complete -- as in move in tomorrow complete. The gas meter should be functional and the water heater must be lit. These are issues your sales representative should confirm with the superintendent prior to making the appointment. Buyers and builders are always eager to have this day come, but it can be a disappointment for everyone to show up and discover the house is not ready. With most builders, a situation like this rarely occurs, however, it never hurts to double check and ask your sales representative the right questions.
Once the house is complete and the big day arrives, there are a few things you should bring to your home orientation appointment. Plan to bring a small appliance to plug in to verify that all of the electrical outlets are functioning. A device called a GFIC tester plugs into any wall outlet and lights up different colors to show whether wiring is done correctly or incorrectly. You should also have a note pad and pen to jot down questions along the way. Be sure to bring a photocopy of your purchased options paperwork and a highlighter pen to mark each item as you go from room to room. Finally, you may also want to have a tape measure so you can measure for window coverings or furnishings, after the home orientation appointment is complete.
Most builders have a specific routine they follow during a home orientation. Many builders begin with the exterior of the home and finish in the kitchen. Try to stay with the routine to be sure nothing is forgotten. Some key items to inspect as you tour your new home include:
- Inspect operation of the irrigation system (yard sprinklers).
- Ask if there is a warranty for plants.
- Check the entire fence for split or damaged boards.
- Inspect siding, stucco, and wood, for damage and paint coverage.
- Ask about the drainage plan so you can inform your landscaper.
- Locate your utilities (phone, cable, gas, and electric) hook-up and ask when you should schedule activation or change service to your name.
- Inspect concrete for cracks or gouges. These will usually be repaired, not replaced.
As you tour each room of your new home, be sure all of the options you selected were installed and are correct. Take your time and don't forget to ask the questions you wrote down before and during the appointment. You may want to inquire about care instructions for specialty floors, marble, tile, or other surfaces, as well as ask about manufacturers' warranties on any items. It's always a good idea to write down the name and phone number of the person to contact in the event of an emergency or warranty issue.
- Make sure all walls are straight and free of defects. Paint should have even coverage throughout the home.
- Open, close, and lock all doors. Look at the gap around the door while closed.
- Open, close, and lock all windows. If the window has a removable panel, take it out and put it back.
- Turn on all faucets, hot and cold, and wait for hot water in all areas.
- Start the dishwasher to check for power and water.
- Check all floors for chips or gouges. These can be difficult to see.
- Test all outlets and switches.
- Open and close all cabinetry doors and drawers. When closed, gaps should be even. Look inside cabinets for voids around plumbing. This can provide access for rodents.
- Inspect kitchen and bath counters carefully and ask if the surface has been sealed.
- Turn on the air conditioner and heater to check the flow at each register. The flow may vary from room to room.
- If any pre-wire was installed, ask for locations of wire.
- Locate all appliance manuals.
Once the orientation is complete, your representative should have a list of all, if any, corrections to be made on the home. After the repairs are made, you will be asked to sign-off on the corrections. It is important not to sign the final papers until everything on your list is complete.
This is the day you've been waiting for since you began your home buying journey. Arrive prepared and enjoy being introduced to your new home.