As exciting as it is to get possession of your new home, sometimes it is worth it, if you have a chance, to do some work in the home BEFORE you move in. It is too easy once you've moved in to just let those projects that you really wanted to take care of slip by. Taking a little time before hand, can make all the difference when you start to move your prized possessions in.
1. Change the locks on the exterior doors.
As soon as the closing is over and you've gotten the keys to your house, either buy and install new lock sets or have a locksmith come to the house to switch them out. You don't know if there are additional keys out there that haven't been accounted for. So for peace of mind, getting new locks installed is a great first step to making this house yours.
2. Get the house cleaned up.
While many sellers will leave the house clean for you, unfortunately, some won't. Even if they do, often you'll want to still do your own clean as everyone's level of "clean" can differ.
3. Paint all the walls and ceilings.
This can be really time consuming, so you may want to hire professionals if you can. There's no point in just slapping on a coat of paint if the walls and ceilings are damaged — if they have cracks, holes and other defects - and prepping these surfaces can be a real chore. So unless you have a relative or two who can help, save yourself a lot of time and just hire someone.
Also, if you're short on time and every surface in the house needs painting, consider one neutral color for every room. This will just make it easier and limit the number of decisions you'll have to make now. You can always go back and repaint rooms the colors you want as time permits. Sometimes it takes living in a place for a while for owners to get a feel of the color pallets they would like to go with.
4. Get some organizers.
Many older houses suffer from closets that have a simple pole and shelf (if that). Look at where you'll store what and get the closets outfitted to accommodate everything, to make moving in less stressful and your life in the new house more enjoyable. This can include areas such as the laundry area to coat hooks, etc.
5. Install new switch plates and other devices.
Many older houses, especially those that have undergone a series of renovations, will have mismatched outlets, dirty and discolored cover plates, and rusted or damaged air vent covers. Replacing all of these, creates a uniformity and newness to them makes a home feel newer and, understandably, cleaner.
6. Have the mechanical equipment cleaned and serviced.
Do this as soon as you buy the house. Getting the heating and cooling systems cleaned and other routine tasks done is important.
7. Install window treatments.
Whether you have these custom made or you go for some inexpensive and temporary shades, you'll want to get something on your windows, both for privacy and that finishing touch.
As you live in the house and get to know it better, you may choose more personalized options than what you initially choose, but this is a great way to make the home your own. Happy packing!