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A complete pre-closing walk-through in under 45 minutes: the chronological check-list

by Honeycrisp on April 21, 2011

We’re often asked for help in the walk-through process.  “What should I look for?” and “How long should it take?” are questions often asked.  We have therefore compiled what we believe to be not only a complete check-list of items, but a chronological tour of the walk-through so that it proceeds smoothly, with no step forgotten.  You will find next to each step an estimated time for those related inspections.

Cycle appliances (:01)

  1. Turn on dishwasher, washer and dryer to let them run their cycles
  2. Smile nicely at the building representative as you proceed, swallowing any words of contempt you might have for the entire purchase process having taken this long

Move to the kitchen (:03)

  1. Turn on the oven – let out a yelping sound pretending to get burned to break the ice
  2. Test the microwave – you may bring a popcorn bag to check the power and have something to munch on for the rest of the walk-through
  3. Check vent and its associated lights
  4. Turn on every burner on the stove and smell for gas
  5. Check each kitchen cabinet, ensuring the hinges/drawers slides are operable and lined up evenly
  6. Run water in the sink and check that it gets hot
  7. Test the garbage disposal – throw your favorite organic material in there for full effect; chicken bones usually do the trick
  8. By now, some heat should be felt in the oven, so turn it off

Head over to the bathroom(s) (:05)

  1. Run water in all available faucets for a few minutes, with bathtub and sink at the same time, humming the “Singing in the Rain” tune; test for heating time, water pressure and leaking under cabinets or around caulking
  2. Flush all toilets
  3. Should your apartment be so odd to come with a bidet, test it by using it as a drinking fountain
  4. Check all tiles for scratches, nicks, cuts, cracks, or chips 
  5. Check the caulking everywhere to ensure it’s a neat job and no gaps exist

Do a sweep of all electrical outlets and jacks (:10)

  1. Bring a night light to check outlets and switches (test by plugging it in the switched outlet and turning the switch on and off) – you may also bring an outlet tester
  2. Make sure all device plates are straight and installed tight to the walls
  3. Ensure that light bulbs are installed in all appropriate fixtures and in working condition

Check the heating / cooling units (:03)

  1. Make sure all local air conditioning and heating units are working properly and in their different modes
  2. Test the HVAC system by turning the thermostat high (for heat) then low (for AC).

Do a sweep of each of these things at once (:15)

  1. Go through the whole apartment so your eye stays trained on one thing at a time, floors first, then walls – take  your time with this one and bring colored masking tape to mark the spots
  2. Check that the floors are properly installed and finished with no stains or marks; ask you walk through, feel for any loose boards
  3. Should you feel particularly punchy, slide across the wooden floors in your socks like Tom Cruise in Risky Business as you check for board misalignment (pants optional)
  4. Check the walls for even paint (particularly between ceiling and walls, behind columns, etc.), ensuring there are no dents, scratches, nicks or discoloration

Exterior facing/related items (:05)

  1. Ensure that the door bell is working by ringing it, coming back in, and asking “who is it?”
  2. Check that all windows open and close smoothly and are sealed properly
  3. Open and close all doors, making sure they don’t scrape the floor and that they close easily
  4. Check the intercoms, concierge phone and alarm system without waking up the neighbors

Exchange of materials/items (:01)

  1. Kindly turn to the building representative and ask if you have received all of your instruction manuals, directions and warranties (do a quick glance-over, adding “sorry, I just want to check”)
  2. Make sure that all the keys are accounted for and ready for delivery after closing

Despite the liberties we’ve taken on the humor front, we hope that this will be of help to you in the final walk-through process. Feel free to add to this list via your comments – an injection of humor is quite welcome!

Lastly, don’t forget to get everything in writing and … at the end of it all, smile and exhale – you’re about to be the proud owner of your new home!

{ 3 comments… read them below or add one }

Honeycrisp April 26, 2011 at 3:00 pm

We received a wonderful addition to this list from Truth on Streeteasy:

Check the ventilation system by doing the tissue-test: Hold a tissue flat against the vent. It should stick to it when you let go of the tissue.

Anonymous April 27, 2011 at 7:25 pm

also from the community on the corresponding Streeteasy thread:
- buy an electrical tester for $10 instead of the night light (which will light up regardless of current strength)
- for a resale apartment, try to run through this list (if possible) before signing the contract and then again before closing to ensure that the “as is” nature of the apartment’s condition hasn’t changed

Rebecca July 16, 2012 at 2:00 pm

Thank you for all the good advice. I printed out your checklist to take with us on the walk through. I especially enjoyed reading the comical advice! Funny!! :)

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