Towels or paper towels and something to clean up with.
Open and close all doors.
Make sure all six sides are painted – front, back, top, bottom and both ends.
Be certain locks and deadbolts, operate properly without binding.
Check that thresholds are adjusted correctly.
Look for warping.
Hinges should be clean and free of paint.
If any door was trimmed to fit, make sure the cut is at the bottom, that it’s straight, and that so much hasn’t been cut off that the door is now hollow at the bottom.
Open all windows.
Determine that locks operate properly.
Tracks should be lubricated to prevent binding.
Make sure screens are in place and not torn.
Look for broken panes.
DRYWALL & MOLDINGS
Walk the perimeter of each room, checking floor and ceiling moldings to be sure they are uniform.
Look for gaps that need caulking, protruding nail heads and proper finish.
Examine all wall and ceiling surfaces under natural light and, if possible, at night under artificial illumination (or with the blinds drawn). Poor drywall work tends to show most when the lights are on.
Look for visible seams, nail heads that have popped out and other irregularities.
Check that paint is satisfactory in all rooms, including closets.
ELECTRICAL OUTLETS & LIGHTS
Be sure all wall outlets and switches operate correctly.
Test light fixtures, making certain they are attached securely and contain the correct-wattage bulbs.
Don’t forget outside lights & door bell.
Tile and vinyl flooring should be clean and free of chips and cracks.
Make sure there are no loose tiles.
Check for missing grout, and be sure molding is installed and painted or stained.
Walk all carpeted areas, checking for loose fits at the edges, ripples or seams in the middle and squeaks in the subfloor.
Be sure the builder explains how the house’s mechanical systems work – the electrical service panel, the furnace and water heater, the thermostat.
Make sure the circuit panel is correctly labeled.
Test both heating and air-conditioning.
Test smoke detector system.
Also find out where the water shutoffs are located for each connection.
In the kitchen, check countertops for scratches and abrasions, a frequent complaint. Counters are a magnet for toolboxes from every trade.
Also make sure the cabinets and appliances are level and properly anchored to the wall or secured to the countertops, that all doors and drawers open fully and without binding, and that wallpaper is plumb and the seams are tight, especially around backsplashes.
Operate each appliance to make sure it works properly.
Get the instruction manuals for every appliance in the house – the range, refrigerator, dishwasher, furnace, heat pump, water heater, electronic thermostat, everything.
Flush toilets and check water in sinks, tubs, and showers.
Make sure pop-up drains work.
In the bathrooms, look for scratches and nicks in the sink as well as the shower enclosure and tub. Workmen like to put their toolboxes there as well.
Be sure the walls are square. Otherwise, the tile floor or patterned vinyl floor will be askew.
Check that the sink and tub stoppers hold water, and that the shower strainer is fastened securely.
Make certain the toilet is securely fastened to the floor. Don’t test the commode by trying to rock the fixture back and forth. That will break a seal that’s correctly installed. Just sitting on it is enough to tell if it is tight.
While sitting there, close the door and take a long, hard look at the walls and other surfaces to make sure they are acceptable. Flaws show up most when semi-gloss paint is used, and that’s what bathrooms should be painted with, not flat paint.
While you’re at it, be sure to see if the toilet-paper dispenser is at the right distance and height. If it isn’t, you may have to be a contortionist to reach the roll.
Check that door opener works.
Locate the remotes.
If you have an attic and plan to use it for storage, ask if there are any weight restrictions.
Find out how the attic ventilation system operates.
Check exterior paint for defects.
Be certain all openings are caulked and there are no gaps for air to infiltrate.
Check all windows and doors sealing and weatherstripping.
Look for any cracks in stucco.
Look for cracks in the driveway and garage floor.
Check that shingles are flat & tight.
Check that flashing is securely in place.
Check that gutters, downspouts, and splash blocks are secure and drain away from house.
Make sure the yard is graded properly. The ground should slope away from the house gradually.
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