You’re so close to the finish line…don’t stop now!
Just like with new construction, when you’re renovating a house, you need to do a final walk through. Regardless of the size of the project–whether you only needed fresh paint and new appliances or whether it was a complete overhaul–you need to throw your fine-toothed comb in there and pick out all the nicks, splits, and smudges before paying your contractor’s final bill.
Even the best contractors miss things. A final walk through is part of the job. But if you don’t know what to look for, you can end up missing the same things they missed, you run the risk of the potential home buyers pointing it out (or their inspector), and can spend more money when you thought the job was done.
There still may be things you didn’t notice–a bathroom vent dead-ending in the attic instead of going through the roof, for instance–but you can arm yourself for success with a quality walk. To avoid frustration and wasted time and money, review the items you’re looking for before you go in with a roll of blue tape.
First, let’s talk about your tool kit:
Bring a level, measuring tape, notepad/pen, these checklists, a flashlight, mirror, and your camera phone or a camera to take pictures of problem areas (even if you take notes, you should have a visual on anything larger than a golf ball).
Before you start, keep these tips in mind:
– Take your time. Schedule more than enough time for this processes. A quick 30 minutes isn’t going to cut it. If you don’t want your contractors short cutting you, don’t shortcut yourself.
– Assure that work is complete before the final paycheck is issued. They want to get paid, so this not only it protects you for the resale value of the home, it motivates them to complete the job.
– Stand your ground. If you’ve hired a trusted contractor who’s done their job on time and budget without unnecessary complications or stress (of what THEY can manage), then you should be able to trust their professional opinion at this point. But, don’t let them pressure you into disregarding something that you know needs to be handled. If you have a laundry list of outstanding issues, they should be gracious and eager to fix them. Again, this is a standard practice for them, too. They know it’s part of the job.
– Double check it after they’ve gone back in for completion. Keep your notes, pull up photographs, and make sure you have all your questions answered on the spot.
- Walk the perimeter of the house to check for cosmetic deficiencies.
- Check all exterior doors, insuring frames are secured and painted on all angles
- Walk in and out of each door, looking at the home from every angle to assure everything is painted or stained uniformly and on all sides.
- Check all windows, insuring frames are secured and painted on all angles
- Assure the steps, sidewalks, and driveway are free of debris
- Check that patios, decks, and balconies are accessible, safe, painted, free of lose nails or screws, and free of debris
- Check window wells on egress windows, assuring they are free of debris, and if covered, that the cover can be removed in the event of an emergency.
- Check the gutters and downspouts, checking that they are free of debris, in working order, and deposit water into to the ground and not onto another part of the house that can cause rot or damage.
- Be sure the garage door opens and closes and is sealed securely on all four sides.
- Open the garage door, especially if it was painted, and check all angles for uniformity.
- Open and close all doors. See that doors are well-fitted and operate as intended.
- Make sure all six sides are painted – front, back, top, bottom, and both ends.
- Check all locks, including deadbolts, operate properly without binding, and that thresholds are adjusted correctly.
- Look for warping.
- Hinges should be clean and free of paint.
- Sometimes doors must be 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.
- Check that locks are well-installed and do not rattle when the door is closed.
- Check that the exterior doors have been sealed with weather-stripping.
- Make sure all closet doors are secure and open and close easily.
- Make sure all closet door knobs are secure.
- 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.
- Check that any glossing was done properly.
- Walk the perimeter of each room.
- Check all floor and ceiling moldings for uniformity, paint/stain, and security.
- Search for gaps that need caulking, protruding nail heads that need repair, and for proper
- Scrutinize all wall and ceiling surfaces under natural light and under artificial illumination (close blinds or do so at night if possible). Poorly done drywall work tends to show most when the lights are on.
- Check for visible seams, nail heads that have popped out and other irregularities.
- Assure the walls are square, and consequently that it matches the angles in the flooring.
- Inspect the wall finishes for uneven paint coverage, holidays (or spots with missing paint), and that texture has been applied evenly.
- Check all wall outlets and switches, assuring they operate correctly.
- Test light fixtures; are they attached securely and contain the correct-wattage bulbs?
- Assure that flooring on stairs is secure, especially carpet. Check the corners.
- Check handrails for stability and proper height. Most states require the top and bottom to run back into the wall to avoid catching.
- Tile and vinyl flooring should be clean and free of chips and cracks.
- 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 in the middle or squeaks in the subfloor.
- Walk across all floors in different patterns. You should have minimum squeaks spring when under pressure. Wood floor systems will have some unevenness, this shouldn’t be severe.
- All flooring types should have a relatively flat surface.
- Examine seams in carpets and vinyl to ensure they are tight and meet the edges of the room securely.
- Inspect ceramic tiles for surface cracks. Joints between ceramic tiles should be well-filled with grout. Grout should be in good shape and free of chipping.
- Inspect flooring for damage.
- Examine carpeting for stains or shade variations, assuring the correct carpet and pad were used.
- Check countertops for scratches and abrasions. Counters are a magnet for toolboxes.
- Make sure the cabinets and appliances are level and properly anchored to the wall or secured to the countertops.
- Check all doors and drawers. They should open fully and close easily.
- Assure that every appliance works, is level, and free of debris.
- Check faucets, outlets, and lightbulbs.
- Check under the sink for any obvious signs of damage, leakage, or debris.
- Test the range hood fan and light.
- Make sure there are electrical outlets above the counter.
- Check garbage disposal.
- Look for scratches and nicks in the sink as well as the shower enclosure and tub. Toolboxes often collect there, too.
- Check that the sink and tub stoppers hold water.
- Assure the shower strainer is fastened securely.
- Flush all toilets.
- Check that the toilet is securely fastened to the floor by sitting on it. (Don’t test the commode by trying to rock the fixture back and forth as it can break a seal that’s correctly installed.)
- While sitting there, close the door and closely examine the walls and other surfaces to make sure they are acceptable.
- While sitting there, check that the toilet-paper dispenser is at the right distance and height to avoid contorting to reach the roll.
- Check for chips in bathtubs, toilets, and sinks. Check all grout, calking, and seals in the tub, sink, and around the backsplash.
- Ensure that all faucets work properly, and check under the sinks.
- Check that cabinets are securely fixed to the wall, all doors open and close easily, and all drawers work properly.
- Assure that all installed towel racks are done right and will hold the weight of their intended product.
- Test for cold A/C.
- Check the furnace and hot water heater.
- Locate the furnace filters and assure there is one in there.
- Be sure the heat registers are not located below a thermostat.
- Check the location and number of cold air returns and make sure they are unobstructed.
You should now feel armed and ready to tackle that “blue tape” inspection. If any of this was new information for you, or you still feel overwhelmed with the process, take a breath and rest assure that we have your best interest at heart. In fact, if this is an area with which you struggle, don’t let the fear of making a mistake stop you. Join us for a Project Management Home Study Course where you’ll learn in vivid detail what you need to know from the very start of a rehab project to the finish line.
If you would benefit from this course, call us at 800-533-1622 to speak with a business consultant to get enrolled. Not only is the return on your investment a wise move for any rehabber, you’ll save time, energy, and frustration by easily learning what TO do instead of difficultly learning what NOT to do.
It’s always easier when the experts help you.
Lee A. Arnold
The Lee Arnold System of Real Estate Investing