5 Home Maintenance Tasks I Wish I’d Done Before Moving into My New House

published Jan 7, 2023
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Someone cleaning a black glass stovetop with a blue microcloth
Credit: Photo: Sidney Bensimon; Prop Styling: Anna Surbatovich

Some things are just easier when done before you move in or, better yet, before you even close on a house. In some cases, there are home maintenance tasks that a homebuyer can ask a seller to handle — and then there are those they can tackle on their own.

These are the un-sexy tasks, the ones that may not make an immediately visible impact, but tasks you’ll surely appreciate as you’re moving your boxes of favorite thrifted finds into a home you know is move-in ready from top to bottom.

So whether it’s to avoid putting yourself in a situation that’s potentially unsafe or simply because it’ll be a pain to move your furniture multiple times, here are five home maintenance tasks that you’d be wise to do before you move into your new home.

Spring for a professional cleaning.

Moving into a sparkling clean house makes the stress of moving just a bit less stressful. And it’s easier to clean every nook and cranny when there’s nothing in your home. “Per the sales contract, sellers must typically leave a house broom-clean and free of debris. However, the quality of this job varies considerably,” Realtor Tarasa Hurley explains. One person’s spic-and-span is another person’s squalor. 

That’s why Realtor Val Breit says, “I typically recommend buyers hire professionals, but depending on the market conditions, sometimes buyers can ask the sellers to have this job taken care of before closing day.” Ensure everything from the carpets to the cabinets to the baseboards are scrubbed.

“Having clean cabinets and drawers to put your dishes and utensils in is worth the investment. There’s nothing like opening up a drawer to put away your silverware, only to find crunchy crumbs and cat hair from the previous owner,” adds Breit. My husband and I didn’t do this in our new home and, trust me, trying to clean drawers and cabinets one-by-one while removing all your dishware is not something you want to do later on.

Expert Advice: Measure the new place to make sure your furniture fits and/or works in a new layout. If there is any doubt that a couch will fit through a doorway or an elevator at the new place, we recommend having an alternative plan in advance rather than on the day of your move. This will prevent the added stress on your move day.

Julia Pak, co-founder, JP Urban Moving in NYC
Credit: A-photographyy/Shutterstock.com

Take a look in the attic and crawl spaces.

“Service the furnace and take a peek in the attic and crawl space. These are items that are often ignored during ownership, but big problems can lurk in those areas,” says Phil Greely, a broker with Realogics Sotheby’s International Realty. If you find issues here, these are an opportunity to ask for a credit, and you’ll definitely want to get them resolved before moving in.

On the seller side, he adds, “Spending a little time and money can help avoid a larger price negotiation during a transaction.”

Have the electrical systems brought up to code.

This is one I actually dealt with on the buyer side. When selling our house, the buyers asked us to remediate an electrical problem, which included an issue with the brand of electrical breakers we had. It was an easy fix to bring it up to code and only cost us a few hundred dollars out of pocket. But it was a home maintenance task the buyers understandably didn’t want to deal with. Plus, they moved in knowing that everything was safe and sound. (And isn’t that the most important thing of all?)

Get the pipes jetted.

Hundred-year-old homes have their fair share of issues, though many of them can be managed if you know about them. Unfortunately for one homeowner, not knowing the condition of old pipes led to an expensive housewarming gift. “The third week we lived in the house, our basement flooded from the washer/kitchen pipe connection, and we ended up spending over $10,000 on repairs and snaking,” explains homeowner Sarah Collie.

As a suggestion to others, Collie says, “It turns out that our pipes were not up to code and a jetting when we first moved in or were doing our inspection would have altered us to the situation and probably bought us another 2 to 3 years before having to get them snaked again.”

Credit: Getty Images/Charday Penn

Redo the floors and paint the walls.

These are two projects you’d be wise to knock out before you move in all of your furniture. If you want to do any major painting jobs, do them now. I still regret not painting our entire condo before move-in day. Almost four years later, the idea (and cost) of moving out all of our furniture to paint over the matte gray paint is practically unimaginable. 

Hurley echoes my sentiment: “It’s always easier to paint before moving into a new home. Bringing furniture and boxes into a house creates clutter and chaos very quickly. As a bonus, the job is faster and usually less expensive.”

And Haley Cutter, with Boston-based Cutter Luxe Living, has another recommendation, “Floors. Always, always, always redo, restain or re-carpet any floors before moving your personal furnishings in. If you don’t, you won’t, and you may regret it for years to come.”