Everything You Need to Do Before Moving Into a New House

February 6, 2022

Buying a new home is exciting, but keeping track of all the things to do before moving in is a chore. While it’s easy to put the new place on the back burner when packing, completing a few projects in the house while it’s still empty can save you a lot of headaches in the future.

Keep reading to discover all of the projects you should complete before spending your first night in your home.

Your Checklist for Moving Into a New Home

Wondering what to do when you move into a new home? Consider completing a serious deep clean and a few safety updates to protect your home and property before the official move-in.

Closeup of a Hand Cleaning a Stove Before Moving Into a New Home

Clean the House From Top to Bottom

No matter how clean the new place looks, the previous owners definitely left behind some dirt. Cleaning a house before moving in should be a priority. There could be animal hair, dust or other allergens hiding almost anywhere, and there’s no guaranteeing they wiped down the appliances as well as you’d like. Deep clean the house from top to bottom, and don’t forget these spots:

  1. Floors: Shampoo carpets, bleach tile and mop hardwood floors to remove allergens and leftover smells.
  2. Walls and baseboards: Dust first and then use a mild cleaner to wipe them down.
  3. Cabinets: Wipe down the inside and lay new shelf paper to freshen the space.
  4. Stove: Scrub both the stovetop and the oven to prevent any smoky surprises.
  5. Washing machine: Run a few cycles with vinegar and baking soda to get rid of any smells or animal hair the previous owners left behind.
  6. Refrigerator: Use vinegar to wipe down shelves and drawers.
  7. Ceiling fans: Remove any leftover dust with a damp rag.
  8. Toilet seats: Disinfect these (if you’re not replacing them).
  9. Light fixtures: Remove and scrub any glass globes to get rid of grime.

Moving across the country? Consider hiring a cleaning service if you don’t have time to do the job before the trip. Or head to the house a few days before your belongings to ensure you have plenty of time to prioritize cleaning the house before moving in your furniture.

Person Using a Drill to Change Locks Before Moving In

Change the Locks

There’s no guarantee the previous owners turned over all the keys. Be sure to update any external locks before moving any valuable items into the house. Take the time to update any passwords or security codes on your security system or garage doors while you’re at it.

Check Smoke Detectors

Smoke detectors could be faulty or have old batteries. Replace all batteries and test them thoroughly before reinstalling. If your new home came with carbon monoxide detectors, test them and check it for a creation date. If it is more than five years old, consider replacing it.

Replace Air Filters

There’s no telling how old the air filters in your HVAC system are. This is especially important if someone in your house is sensitive to dust or animal hair that could have been left behind. Replace the air filters and mark the date on your calendar so you know when to replace them in the future.

Locate Circuit Breakers and Shut-Off Values

You’ll want to familiarize yourself with these items in case of a plumbing leak or tripped breaker. Be ready for an emergency by doing it before moving in. Take the time to figure out which breaker goes to each room of your home and label them for future use. (Also, it’s a good idea to store a flashlight nearby for your next power outage.)

Don’t leave it up to chance that you’ll remember all of these steps during a hectic move. Print out this checklist for moving into a new home so you can make sure nothing gets missed.

Man Using Sander to Refinish Hardwood Floors Before Moving In

Home Improvements to Complete Before Moving In

If you’re planning to make updates to your new home, consider completing the project while the house is still empty. Many projects are easier (and sometimes more affordable) when the home is free of furniture, pets and family members.

Put these projects at the top of your list:

Update the Flooring

Don’t love the left-behind carpet? Do the hardwoods need a refresh? Any flooring project is easier in an empty house and some flooring companies will give you a discount if there is no furniture to move as they work.

Pulling out carpetsanding floors and laying laminate can involve a lot of dirt and debris and take more time than you realize. When it comes to hardwood floors, refinishing or sanding will require the removal of all furniture, will create a lot of dust and can require extended dry-times before normal traffic can resume, says Brett Miller, VP of Technical Education at the National Wood Flooring Association.

Instead of disrupting your first few weeks in your new home, complete this home improvement job before moving

Renovate the Kitchen

If you are planning to update the kitchen of your new home, it’s best to tackle this before moving in. Not only can kitchen renovations cause a mess, they can disrupt your whole home and prevent you from making meals.

Probably the most disruptive renovation is the kitchen. Aside from food preparation, the kitchen is typically the gathering place for day-to-day conversation and the last place the family is before going their separate ways for the day.

Frank Lesh, Ambassador | American Society of Home Inspectors

Check for Leaks and Schedule Roof Repairs

While roofing projects can be done while the house is occupied, moving into a home where water is falling from the ceiling isn’t fun. Check for any signs of a leak in the ceiling and the attic and call a roofer if there are any concerns. Completing this job before moving in will protect your belongings from water damage.

Paint Interior Rooms While Empty

Why waste time and money draping or moving furniture if you can complete the job while the rooms are still empty? While choosing colors before living in the house may be a challenge, the effort will pay off in the long run.

Remove Popcorn Ceilings and Walls

If your new home was built more than 15 years ago, it may have popcorn ceilings in the bedrooms or living spaces. Removing this feature is simple, but incredibly messy. If you’re determined to remove the dated ceiling, it’s best to complete this home improvement before moving in.

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