Most homebuyers have a list of things they’d like to change about their new properties. And while a lot of it can be pushed off until after recovering from the move and its associated costs, some home improvements are much easier-and cheaper-to get done prior to moving day.
Here are some of them:
A home’s flooring takes on a lot of wear and tear (and occasionally, some latent and unrelenting pet smells as well), so it’s pretty typical to want to refloor a home after you buy. But it’s a large expense, and many buyers choose to wait to get it done. Unfortunately, that usually results in spending a lot more money in the long run. Whether you’re dealing with carpet, vinyl, tile, or hardwood, you’re always going to be able to keep costs lower if you schedule the installation to take place prior to move in day, when the flooring company doesn’t have to take on the added task of moving all of your furniture.
Just like flooring, painting the interior of your home is considerably easier when you don’t have to worry about clearing out rooms first or covering up furnishings. And if you’re hiring a pro to do the job, it’s also much more cost effective, since 75-85 percent of the cost of a professional paint job goes toward labor. Safeguard your savings and your furniture by getting the interior rooms painted when the house is empty, and simplify the task even further by painting before you have new floors installed. As an added bonus, getting this done early means that you get to avoid all the fumes that come with fresh paint.
Popcorn ceilings and walls
If you’re moving into an older home, there’s a strong chance you’ll run across popcorn ceilings or walls. While the style used to be popular for its aesthetic and ability to hide imperfections, now it’s much more of an eyesore than anything else. Popcorn ceilings or walls can also contain asbestos or other irritants, meaning even if you don’t hate the style you’re better off having them removed. Having popcorn ceilings or walls professionally smoothed out is simple enough, but it’s also messy. Similar to painting, the handyman will have to cover all furnishings and move things around, adding on time and money. Get it done ahead of time and save the trouble and expense.
Closet shelving and organization
Unpacking is stressful enough without having to worry about where you’re going to put everything. Set yourself up for success by having any DIY or professional closet fixtures installed prior to the first box of stuff getting dropped off. You’ll be able to plan for exactly what you need, plus you’ll simplify the entire process and save yourself the trouble of filling up a closet only to have to empty it out again to install shelving.
If you have pets or young children who like to run free in the backyard (or you just like your privacy), you’re probably going to want to install a fence. And while you may think this is an easy thing to take care of at some undetermined date after move in, having your indoor and outdoor space optimized for livability before you turn the key in the front door goes a long way toward making your new house feel like home. If you know you’re going to fence in your yard, get it taken care of early, before it inevitably gets pushed down on the to-do list. And don’t forget that you may need to file a permit in order to build a fence, so this is one project you should get started on as soon as you can.
This is one of those easy home improvements that can be done in just an hour or so. Even if you’ve met the previous owner of the home and they seem nice and trustworthy, you have no idea who else may have copies of the key. Instead of taking on the risk, give yourself some peace of mind and have a locksmith come out to replace all of the exterior locks before you move in. It’s the only way to know for sure exactly who has access to your home.
Batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors
This is another area where you’re always better safe than sorry. Not all home inspectors check the batteries in smoke alarms and carbon monoxide detectors, and if they do, there’s still no way to know how recently they were replaced. Instead of sitting back and waiting for the inevitable “beep” of a dying battery (or worse, finding out that an existing battery is defective), take a few minutes to pop in fresh replacements.
Heating and cooling filters
A heating or cooling system with an old or faulty filter can cost you some serious dough by causing the system to work inefficiently, or worse, break. A fresh filter is cheap and easy to install on your own, and will provide you with cleaner air and greater protection against having to replace the heating or cooling system itself-a repair that is neither cheap nor easy.
Any leak, no matter the size, can cause major damage over time if left untreated. So if your home inspector alerted you to a leak, don’t waste any time in getting it repaired. In addition to water damage, untreated leaks open up your home to a host of problems, including mold, mildew, and rotting surfaces. Plus, treating the leak could result in a disruption of your water services-an inconvenience that’s not so bad if you’re not living in the property at the time.
Never wait until after you move in to take the necessary precautionary steps to protect children (or pets) from household hazards. Any childproofing adjustments you need to make, be it covering outlets, securing cabinets, or installing corner and edge bumpers definitely need to be done before any two- or four-legged little ones walk through the door. And if the previous owners already had childproofing in place, be sure to double check each safety fixture to make sure it’s in proper working order.
Moving is a big task, and it’s often fraught with complications and added expenses. While you can’t prepare for every what-if, you can do your future self a huge favor by taking care of these types of home improvements projects prior to move in. Not only will doing most of these ahead of time save you money, they’ll also save you a ton of time and frustration.