As a home inspector, I look at the home from two major perspectives; it’s a living space, so
safety, health and liability concerns are considered, but it’s also an investment, so regular repairs and maintenance
are considered. I’ve included both an initial move-in to-do list below, as well as regular maintenance activities I’d
recommend to protect your investment while providing a healthy, safe environment.
The Move-In To-Do List*
- Locks - It’s recommended that you update the locks on all doors. Both for safety as well as peace of mind. This
includes your garage door opener. You should recode your automatic opener and pad.
- Smoke & carbon monoxide detectors - The estimated life span of a smoke detector is 10 years, whereas a CO
detector is 7 years and because of the difficulty in assessing the age, I recommend replacing all existing smoke and
CO detectors. Remember, requirements vary from municipality to municipality, I recommend smoke detectors in all
sleeping rooms, outside of bedrooms within the immediate vicinity (within 10 feet), and on each floor (including
basements). I recommend CO detectors within 10 feet of all sleeping rooms, as well as in any room with a
- Main shutoffs - Identify and label main shutoffs for HVAC equipment, plumbing systems, and electrical systems.
Your Home Inspector should be more than happy to assist with providing this information for you. If I inspected your
home, email anytime and I’d be happy to provide this information. If it's been a while since your inspection I would
be more than happy to come by and identify the main shut-offs, free of charge.
- Electrical Circuits - Verify the accuracy of the labeling of the circuits in your electrical panel as well as
the main shut-off. If necessary, make corrections.
- Fire escape routes – Plan your fire escape routes from upper stories, bedrooms, basements, etc. Ensure that
there is an operable window or door in every room of the house. Consult with your local fire department regarding
fire safety issues and what to do in the event of fire.
- Fire extinguishers - Consider providing at least one extinguisher on each floor, especially near the
- Inspector Recommendations - If your home inspector has included any safety recommendations in their report,
these should be addressed immediately. Also anything that concerns the shell of your home should be addressed
immediately. This includes things like roof, gutters, grading, rain-caps on chimney’s, etc.
While addressing safety, health, and liability concerns we’re also looking to protect your
investment. Good maintenance practices can extend the lives of appliances while reducing costs, and protecting your
- Smoke & carbon monoxide detectors – Test regularly to confirm functionality. Replace as needed.
- Ground fault circuit interrupters – Test regularly to confirm functionality in the event of electrical issues.
Replace as needed.
- HVAC - Replace filters and/or clean air filters. This includes your checking your Heat Recovery Ventilator if
applicable. If I inspected your home and you need help locating this, please don’t hesitate to reach out.
- Hot water heating - If present, bleed radiator valves.
- Range hood filters – Clean to maintain efficiency, and minimize the risk of grease fires.
Spring & Fall*
- Gutters – clean to extend the life of the gutters and keep the basement dry. If you haven’t already, install a
good reputable gutter screen system which can cut down on maintenance considerably.
- Roof - The roof should be examined for evidence of damage to coverings, flashings and chimneys.
- Attic - Look in the attic (if accessible) to ensure that roof vents and soffit vents are not obstructed. Use
caution when painting the exterior not to paint over and plug the soffit vents. Check for evidence of leakage,
condensation, or vermin activity. Level out the insulation if necessary.
- Trees, shrubs, vines – I recommend at least 24 inches from mechanical equipment and 18 inches from walls to
prevent damage to siding materials. This will also assist in reducing the risk of pest entry into the home.
- Exterior Building - Inspect the exterior walls and foundation for evidence of damage, cracking or movement.
Watch for bird nests or other vermin or insect activity. Inspect for weather tightness at siding, trim, doors,
windows, wall penetrations, etc. to prevent concealed water damage.
- Outdoor hose bibs – shut off standard hose bibs in the fall, if they are frost free hose bibs, this isn’t
required. Your home inspector should be able to let you know what you have.
- Basement - Survey the basement and/or crawl space walls for evidence of moisture seepage.
- Windows & Doors - Clean the windows and test their operation. Clean and lubricate tracks if needed. I recommend
a dry lubricant that does not attract dirt and dust. Check the caulking around doors and windows to ensure a weather
and pest tight seal. Check weather-stripping on the doors and windows as necessary. Watch for evidence of rot in
wood window frames. Paint and repair window sills and frames as necessary.
- Garage Door - Test the overhead garage door opener to ensure that the auto-reverse mechanism is responding
properly. Clean and lubricate hinges, rollers and tracks, and the gasket on overhead doors.
- Exterior Vents, Intakes, ducts, etc. - Clear accessible vents, intakes, ducts. This includes your dryer exhaust,
your fresh air make-up intake, etc. Monitor regularly. I typically recommend cleaning these in the colder months
when insects are less active as bee’s like to setup shop in these locations.
- Bathtub and shower enclosures – Check caulking and grout to prevent concealed and ongoing water damage. Repair
- Exterior paint and stain – check and repair as needed to prevent exterior wood decay. Pay particular attention
to wood close to the ground. Wood in contact with soil is prone to rot.
- Refrigerators and freezers – Vacuum coils to improve efficiency.
- Fire extinguisher – Check gauges to make sure they will operate as intended.
- Floor drains – Check that there is water in traps to prevent sewer odors getting into the home.
- Heat recovery ventilator – clean or replace the filter as needed.
- Bathroom exhaust fan – Clean out dust accumulation. Consider adding a timer, or even better, an exhaust fan with
a built-in humidistat.
- Replace smoke detector and carbon monoxide detector batteries.
- Have the heating, cooling and water heater systems cleaned and serviced.
- Examine the electrical panels, wiring and electrical components for evidence of overheating. Ensure that all
components are secure. Flip the breakers on and off to ensure that they are not stuck in the on position.
- Have chimneys inspected and cleaned. Ensure that rain caps and vermin screens are secure.
- If the house has a well or a cistern, check and service the pump and holding tank. Have the water quality
tested. If the property has a septic system, have the system periodically pumped and inspected (usually about every
- If your home is in an area prone to wood-destroying insects (termites, carpenter ants, etc.), have the home
annually inspected by a state licensed WDI inspector . Preventative treatments may be recommended in some
*This list is by no means all encompassing, each
home is different and this is meant as a starting point, and a minimum.
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