New And Improved

By Kristen Castillo

April 15, 2019 5 min read

Moving can be a big project, but before you unload that truck or unpack those boxes, consider this: Some home improvement and safety projects are easier to do before you move in.

According to a survey of 2,000 homeowners by Porch, a leading home improvement marketplace, the average home has nine repairs on its to-do list. The top five repairs in order: painting, bathroom remodel, new carpet, landscaping and kitchen remodel.

The Porch team recommends doing a lot of household repairs before moving in.

*Paint

It's a lot easier to paint a room that's empty, with no furnishings in it. Grab a brush or roller and get the task done now.

*Look Up

Premove, it's smart to remove a "popcorn" or "cottage cheese" ceiling. The textured ceiling, which was popular in homes built between the 1950s and the 1980s, may have asbestos.

Amanda Woolley, senior communications manager for Porch, suggests consulting a professional before attempting to remove the ceiling or any other asbestos on your own. She estimates the average cost for removal to be $1.50 to $3.00 a square foot.

*Tidy Up

"From my 30-plus years of selling homes, an easy home improvement before moving in is having the whole house cleaned top to bottom before everything is moved in," says Sissy Lappin, founder of Listing Door, a site that helps people sell their homes.

Make sure the kitchens, bedrooms and bathrooms are cleaned, including along all surfaces, inside cabinetry and above appliances. Wash windows inside and out and clean the carpets, too.

*Change Toilet Seats

Swap out the old toilet seats for new ones. It seems simple, but this is the type of project that signals the property is yours. Besides, with a new seat, you won't have to be grossed out thinking of how many people sat on that seat before you.

*Replace Appliances

Move-in time could be a good opportunity to replace major appliances such as water heaters, kitchen appliances, heating and cooling systems, washers and dryers. Keep in mind some appliance installs may require extra work such as ducting, plumbing or ventilation.

*Flooring

Refinishing floors or installing tire or carpet can be pricey -- Porch says the average cost to professionally refinish hardwood floors is $3.50 to $4.50 a square foot -- but this is the time for these big jobs. It's easier to do this work when the house is empty.

It's efficient, too. Doing it all at once saves money in the long run. "Hiring a crew one time is less expensive than hiring a crew several different times," says Woolley.

*Safety First

Realtor Kerron Stokes with RE/MAX Leaders says while many homeowners think "I'll get to it later," they should make safety- and security-related items a priority when moving in.

"You never know how many people had keys and access to your home before you," she says, encouraging homeowners to change locks and update passcodes as soon as they buy the property.

Trim landscaping, too, especially trees and bushes that block windows and other entry points. Stokes suggests installing gravel near low-to-the-ground windows to serve as noise protection, alerting you if someone sneaks up on your home.

Install outdoor lighting with motion detectors. Inside, set up timer lighting.

Stokes also advises installing a home security system. Many give homeowners the ability to remotely lock and unlock doors and turn lights on and off.

Be fire-safe, too. Start by checking the dryer vent. Clear out clogged dryer lint and make sure the vent opens to let the air out. Next, change the batteries in smoke and carbon monoxide detectors and test them to make sure they work.

Whether you do these projects yourself or hire a company to do them for you, your home will be ready for a fresh start.

Kristen Castillo is a three-time Emmy Award-winning journalist. An editor and writer for wedding magazines, she's written hundreds of wedding articles, as well as an e-book, "Weddings on a Dime."

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