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Everything You Need to Do to Your New Home Before You Move in

Before you start unpacking those moving boxes, make sure these seven projects are checked off the to-do list.

Woman painting a wall red with a roller brush
Consider painting over the stimulating red to a much calmer blue color. 
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This story is part of Home Tips, CNET's collection of practical advice for getting the most out of your home, inside and out.

You've finally found your dream home. Great! That's the exciting part. But now you have to actually move all your stuff, which can be a real pain. 

Combine the stress of moving with the many DIY projects you're likely to take on once you move in and you'll start to feel overwhelmed quickly. Especially if you have to relocate your recently moved-in stuff to put in new flooring or repaint the whole house. To save yourself from madness, consider knocking out these projects and upgrades before pulling up in the moving van.


First things first, paint. Do you hate that purple dining room or the jet black bedroom formerly occupied by a teenager? Best to get it done before you get settled. It may not be as intrusive as flooring updates, but you will have to move all your junk to the middle of the room, provided there's space.

Also, paint sprays and splatters, so if you do have belongings in the room you'll need additional protection with plastic sheeting or drop cloths. I like to paint walls or rooms before doing flooring updates so you don't have to be as concerned with getting paint on your new floors.

Man putting down new hardwood flooring

If you're going to replace or refinish an existing floor, you definitely want to get that done before moving in.

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Flooring replacement

Everything in your house that isn't attached to a wall is going to take up floor space. If you're going to replace or refinish an existing floor, you definitely want to get that done before moving in. Anyone that you hire to do the work will require the affected rooms to be empty, so there's no reason to fill them up beforehand.

Even if you do the work yourself, you'll need to shuffle your belongings around, and that will drastically lengthen the time it takes to complete the project and make it harder on yourself. 

Major updates

If you're buying a home that is a bit dated and needs major updates to core systems like plumbing or electric, you might consider getting these projects done before your move.

If you do have major updates taking place, there's a fair chance the work involved will include cutting out sections of drywall or flooring to make pathways for updated pipes or wiring. The demo and subsequent drywall repairs will create quite a bit of dust, so you'll also likely be painting walls or repairing flooring. 

Man working with a power drill

Cutting out sections of drywall can create a lot of dust, which might require you to repaint walls or repair flooring. 

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Heavy remodels

There are plenty of updates to a home that you can make while living there. But there are a couple you're better off taking care of before moving in. Going through a total kitchen remodel can upset day-to-day flow in many ways. Not only will you not be able to prepare food, you also won't have any space to store food, especially if appliances need to be moved or unplugged. You'll need space to store all of your dishes, kitchen gadgets and all of the debris and materials for the kitchen work will have to go somewhere as well.

The other major inconvenience for a total remodel is the bathroom. If you have multiple bathrooms, it may or may not be a huge issue depending on how many people live in your home. But, if you only have one full bathroom, being without it for days or weeks will be a pain. In either circumstance, if you're paying to have the work done for you, it's wise to factor in more time than your contractor estimates and be prepared for limited bathroom space.

Safety and security updates

It's never a bad idea to change out locks on a new home, or to put home security elements in place before moving in. But safety can go beyond just that. If you have small children, you may want to put child safety devices in place before having them in the home. 

Likewise, if you have pets, you may need similar safety precautions inside or a fence around your new yard. Having a safe home also means making sure you know where the main electric, water and gas shutoffs are, as well as any other safety features. This is also a good time to map out your emergency exit plan. 

An HVAC unit at the CNET smart home

Luckily, replacing major HVAC components isn't usually too lengthy of a process


HVAC replacement

This one can depend on the timing of your new home purchase. Replacing major HVAC components isn't usually too lengthy of a process, nor does it normally require much renovation to other parts of the home. However, if you live through sweltering summers and arctic winters, you may want to have this work done before moving in so you won't have to expose yourself to the extreme elements. 

Utilities setup

This may seem obvious, but can be easily overlooked when you're busy with the home buying process. Make sure you have utilities and core services set up to be active in your new home before you move in. What a bummer to spend your first night in your first home with no power! Don't forget to also transfer mail, the internet, TV services and any regularly scheduled deliveries to your new home address.

To recap, any of these projects can happen while you're already moved into and living in your new home, but you're likely to be less stressed if you make sure these tasks are done beforehand. You'll be much more likely to start off loving your new home than being frustrated with how it's complicating your life. While you're at it, check out this list of tools you'll need for maintaining your new home.