Moving in…

by Mario Acosta on April 8, 2013

in Buyers, First-Time Home Buyers

I started last week talking about the eventual move after buying your new home.   Moving into a new home is a life experience that – although exciting  –  few people describe as “fun.” But, with a few  tips and a little planning  before you move in, you’ll be ready when the furniture arrives.

The move can totally consume you for a long time: planning, packing, moving, cleaning. So be prepared to put other aspects of your life on hold.  Probably not the best time to be over-committing – or committing at all to others in your life.

When you arrive in your new home, you’re faced with even more challenges.  It may seem like a small thing to decide where to put the best china or everyday dishes, but after all the work of moving out of the old home, the last thing you need is another big decision or another major project.

But doing some work to your new home right away will make moving in feel great.

If you’re moving into a new house, you may not need to do anything at all. Lucky you!

But if you’ve bought a home with carpet you hate, you’re probably thinking that it has to go.  Should you wait until you’re moved in, or tackle the job now?

You may decide that it’s too much to think about right now, that you should leave the decision about replacement for later, after you’ve settled in.  You may not have the budget or time to do anything but move.  But be sure to weigh in the “cost” to you in both hassle and time if you wait to do a necessary project at a later date.

Replacing flooring is a major project, and if you have the money and you can make just this one decision at moving time, you’ll really be doing yourself a favor.  If you put it off, you’ll be faced with moving all your furniture out of the rooms.  What a bother! Not just for you, but for the flooring installers as well! There will be furniture all around the place, and you’ll have to move it back into the room when they’re done.  If you can do it when you move, be sure to order the flooring well in advance of your move.  Make arrangements to have new flooring installed a day or two before you move in.  Cover the new flooring with mats, tarps, or area rugs so the movers don’t track in dirt or scratch the wood.  Then, when they set your sofa and coffee table in place — you’ll be home.

Below are some other pre-move-in projects that can save you time and trouble.

It’s amazing what can get done in only one week with a little planning and some coordination.  More than once I have seen a shabby fixer upper morph into a beautifully painted, and carpeted new home including new appliances, refinished cabinets and countertops, new fixtures and even sod laid in only five days.

Choose the projects that are the most pressing.  If your budget won’t allow re-carpeting the entire house, just do one floor.  If you can’t face paint decisions for every single room, then just do the rooms where the decisions are easy.  Don’t be afraid to paint the whole inside a basic color pre move in.  Coordinating and contrasting decorator wall colors are easy to tackle latter, where the ceilings are not so simple.

Painting – Whether you do the work yourself or hire someone to do it, it’s a lot easier to paint an empty room.  There will be no need to move furniture, take down draperies, clear out the closets, or take every picture or mirror off the walls.  Allow several days to repaint before the movers show up, especially if you’ll be doing the work yourself.  This type of work always takes longer than you think.  Or, hire a crew (professional painters or friends) to come in and get it over with in a day or two.  Painting even part of the house before you move in can be a terrific time saver.  If you can’t decide on colors, just have everything painted a clean white, light beige, or other background color you love — depending on what works best with your furniture and color schemes.  Once the major patching, priming, trim work, and base coats are in, adding another wall color at a later date can be a snap.

Crown Molding – Does anyone not love the look of crown molding? It’s a wonderful luxury to be able to install molding around the whole house all at once, before you move into your new home.  Be sure to prime and pre-paint the strips of molding before installation, just before painting the interior walls.  You may need to do some touch up at the joints and nail holes, but that’s a lot easier than standing on a ladder for days trying to paint three coats of paint on the molding near the ceiling!  This one is one of my favorites.  It is simple to do yourself, with a little practice the corners are easy to match up.  A pneumatic brad nailer makes short work of the project – and the upgrade is amazing.

Re-Key – You’ll never know how many keys are floating around for your new home unless you get new locks or re-key the existing locks.  The previous owners may have given a key to neighbors, workmen, relatives, or cleaning services and you’ll get some peace of mind if you get new ones.   This is a project to do just before or soon after you move in.

Closet Systems – Having things organized, fitting into your new home, will really make you feel great. You’ll love wonderful closet systems with double hanging poles, drawers, and shelves up to the ceiling.   If you wait until later, you’ll have to take everything out, pile your clothes in stacks on your bed or floor (can you visualize your clothes wrinkling in giant stacks), and live out of suitcases for a day or two until the closet fittings can be installed.  No matter when you choose to do it, professional installers can be in and out in a jiffy. Do-it-yourselfers may need a bit longer to figure out the instructions, but once the process is down for the first closet, each additional closet should be faster and easier.  If you do some measuring in your new home before you move in, plan ahead and choose and buy your closet components ahead of time.

Electrical Upgrades – If you’re moving into a new home, you may have all the electrical outlets you need. But older homes could be a challenge.  You can do the upgrades anytime, but everything is easier to get to in an empty room.  Remember, electricians are paid by the hour and they’ll be able to work faster if they have immediate access to outlets and room for ladders and equipment.  Older homes may need GFIs in kitchens and baths, as well as additional outlets for TVs, phones, computers, or lamps. This would be a great time to add a ceiling fan, and an electrician can install a wall switch, brace the ceiling and install a specialized box for the fan.  You might want better work light in your kitchen or reading spotlights over your bed.  Lighten up a hallway with new track lighting or add lights in your new closets. Two real luxuries that are easy to do are an outlet inside a vanity for your hair dryer or an outlet on the mantle for holiday lights.  How about a motion-activated ceiling light in a basement or laundry room?  All of these projects can be easier to complete when your rooms are empty.  The work can be completed without your having to move furniture or cover room accessories to protect them from drilling dust.

Garage Storage – Is there ever enough storage? Will you be able to park your car in the garage, or will it become the storage spot for everything from garden tools to holiday decorations?  Yes, once you move in, it’s FULL of stuff.  So, if you want to build storage shelves, finish the floor with an epoxy coating, or install a workbench, it can be much easier to do it before the garage is stacked to the ceiling.  Another handy tip — if you have sturdy garage shelving from a previous home, arrange to have it loaded on the truck last, then unloaded first, so boxes marked “Storage” can be placed easily and quickly onto waiting shelves.

Everyone’s different; some love packing and hate unpacking and others feel the opposite.  I prefer to pack rather than unpack.  That means I need a plan before I start to unpack so I’m not lost in among all those boxes.  Most moving websites or companies usually suggest unpacking one room at a time; however, in all our moves I always unpack the essentials first.  This does not mean just the essentials box, but the things we’ll need for the next week or so.  Unpacking takes a lot of time, so get the main items unpacked first then tackle the things that aren’t as crucial to your day-to-day existence.

More next week!

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Post by Mario Acosta

Mario has written 117 articles.

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