You’ve signed the contract, selected your cabinets, appliances and flooring, and waited patiently for your new home to be built. Finally, the moment you’ve been anticipating – the walk-through – arrives.

The walk-through is an opportunity for you and your builder to examine your new home together. You may spend the time agreeing on items in need of correction or adjustment, learning how your new home works and what you must do to keep it maintained and asking questions about anything you don’t understand.

Many builders use the walk-through to educate buyers about the home’s operating systems, as well as the maintenance and upkeep responsibilities. In order to help you get the most of your new-home walk-through, here are a few things to keep in mind:

Keep a checklist – The walk-through is when you and your construction manager will inspect surfaces such as walls, floors, windows, appliances and countertops to make sure there are no scratches, chips or other forms of noticeable damage. Make a special effort to note items that need to be corrected on your checklist because such cosmetic items will usually not be covered by your warranty after the orientation. Check the paint, drywall, bathtubs, showers and tile work.  Also, walk around the outside of the house to examine the exterior. If the landscaping is already in place, check to make sure the plants are healthy and that the slope of your yard will allow water to drain away from your home.  You and your construction manager can then agree to a timetable for repairs.

Take lots of notes – The walk-through is where you will receive a stack of documents that include manufacturers’ instruction for the heating and cooling systems, plumbing, cable, water heater, kitchen appliances and other features in the home. You may also receive a demonstration on how to operate all of these systems. It’s a lot of information to take in all at once, especially since much of it is conveyed verbally. Instead of relying on memory, many people find it helpful to take notes.

Don’t rush – Everybody’s busy these days, but don’t allow yourself to rush through the walk-through. It’s an important part of the homebuilding process. Be thorough and observant, and try to avoid distractions (you may want to have your kids stay with a babysitter). Ask questions. Consider this a formal introduction to your new home – and afford it the time it deserves. Both you and your builder will be glad you did.

(Editor’s Note: Andy Warren is president of Maracay Homes, the Arizona subsidiary of the Weyerhaeuser Real Estate Company.)

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