Your much dreamed of (and sweaty) day has come! You will receive your house or apartment and the construction company called you to come over and accept the project. Get ready! It is more than just the thrill of seeing your new home. You should be aware of possible problems, what to look for and how to detect them.
It may be that what is being delivered is different from what is in the contract. And there may also be some construction issues.
You can hire an engineer or architect to accompany you on the acceptance of the property. This engineer or architect will perform all necessary tests with you or on your behalf.
But you can also do it by yourself. Here’s what you can do:
Prepare your property acceptance kit
Assemble a simple kit that will help you make sure everything is in order. You will need color stickers, a bucket or a hose, a lamp, paper, and a pen. Also, take a copy of the “descriptive memo” (which is usually part of the contract).
Descriptive memo describes the items and quality that should be delivered (the type of bathroom floor, metal faucets, white toilet, etc.) and the brands of materials that would be used. Also, prepare a checklist so you do not forget what you have to see when you arrive to your property. If something is not working, attach a label to this place and write it down on your list.
Observe, check, test
Electrical power outlets
See if all of the power points that were in the design were installed. If the power is already on, test all outlets with the lamp you took. And if the sockets have already been installed, also test the bulbs.
Test the intercoms, make sure that both sound and visibility (if cameras are installed) work well and the quality is as you expect it to be.
Open the electricity panel (that shows all incoming and outgoing wires in one box) and take a look at the circuit breakers. They all must be identified and clearly show what breaker is connected to which room or what appliance (washing machine, etc.).
Faucets, siphons, and ceramics
Turn on all faucets and see if the water is flowing and draining well. With the faucet open, look under the counters. See if there are no leaks in the siphon or the flexible pipes (which carry water to the taps). Make sure the ceramics and metal surfaces are in good condition, without splinters and scratches. Make sure that they are of the same brands that are in the descriptive memo.
Pour water into the tub and see if it becomes clogged or drains out well. Also, see if the kitchen sink itself has been installed horizontally or if it is crooked and accumulates water in one of the corners.
Shower floors and drains
With a bucket or a hose that you have taken with you, pour water and see if it is going down the drain. Pour water straight into the drain and see if it is clogged. Also, check if floors are horizontal and do not accumulate water in one of the corners.
Activate the discharge of each toilet to see if everything works well and if there is any leakage. Check how water fills the toilet tank. Make sure water stops automatically when the tank is filled.
Room floors and tiles
Make sure all floor surfaces and tiles are well placed. Check that there are no cracked tiles and if the grout is well done. Use stickers to mark defective tiles or sections of the floor. Check for empty spaces below tiles, both on the floor and on the walls. Lightly tap parts of the wall and walk carefully on the floor.
Doors and windows
Open each door and see if it does not scratch on the floor. Open all windows. Close completely to see if the knobs and latches are working well. Test the keys. See if there is no rust or paint peeling. Check that there is no paint remaining on the glass. Make sure the glass is not scratched or stained.
Painting, texture, and plaster
See if the paint is well done. Check that the walls are smooth, if there are no stains, no paint dripping and there is no cracking.
Make sure all problems are listed
Usually, an architect or an engineer of the construction company would accompany you during your acceptance visit. Do not be intimidated. If everything is in order, just sign the acceptance form.
If there are problems, have each one of them (which you have already been marking on your own list) written down in the acceptance form. Take advantage to discuss all these problems or your doubts with the architect or the engineer from the company that has been doing the work for you.
You can and should request repairs before the final delivery of the keys. The construction company will perform the repairs. The simple ones can be done within a few days and the most complicated ones within around a month. They will then call you for a new evaluation.
The keys to your new home come only after you “accept” the property and sign the acceptance form. This would mean that there is no longer any apparent mistake or wrongdoing.
If further problems are discovered, complain formally
If, after you start living in your new property, you discover other serious mistakes, which were not apparent at the time of the acceptance visit (such as structural problems, for example), complain formally and request to find a solution.
In some countries, construction companies are obliged to provide multi-year guarantees for their construction. If this is the case and you discover issues with your property, such issues can be solved under such long-term guarantee.
Preventive maintenance is key
Once you have moved in, do not forget that preventive maintenance is much better and costs much less than fixing problems when they become large and costly.