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Closing on Your New Home

The home closing is one of the last big steps in building your new home. It is the time when you will receive the title to your new home. The final inspection and final walk-through go hand in hand and generally precede the closing. The following information will help you understand the basics of these events.

Final Inspection
This is the last time the inspector will visit your home before you move in (generally scheduled within five days of the closing date.) The local building department is required to complete a final inspection for every new home that is built. During this inspection the building official will arrive at your new home and check the validity of any previous inspections and ensure that building codes have been met. He or she will visually inspect the mechanical, plumbing and electrical systems and the floor. The inspector will check staircases and handrails, light fixtures, ventilation systems and any other elements that could potentially cause harm to an occupant. If the building official finds a component that is improperly designed or a potential safety hazard such as missing outlet covers or vent registers these problems will have to be corrected and the inspector will have to return another time. Only when the inspector finds that the home meets all the requirements set forth by the building department will the official sing the card approving your home for occupancy. (Remember that the final inspection ensures your new home meets minimum standards for the health and safety of the occupants. The building official is not responsible for resolving issues with the builder such as poor craftsmanship unless it puts the occupants in danger.)

Once the building official completes the final inspection and signs off on the card, the card is submitted to the building department along with other necessary documents. Then the building department will issue a certificate of occupancy.

Walk-Through with the Builder
After the final inspection, your builder or contractor will schedule a walk-through with you. This may be the first time you get to see your home in its completed state, so take your time and look at everything carefully. Now is your opportunity to review and inspect the quality of craftsmanship/workmanship, point out items that may need touching up, check the ceilings, walls, windows and doors carefully, ask questions about your new house and learn about the operation of its many systems like the programmable thermostat, for example. Look for anything that might need a minor repair such as a broken light bulb and paint touch ups. Is there anything that isn’t working properly? If you find anything that appears to be imperfect, make note of it. At the end of the walk-though, discuss any problems that need to be corrected with your builder. Often builders will make a punch list of the repairs. Aim to have the problems remedied before your closing date. It is even a good idea to ask for a date by which you can expect the repairs to be complete. (Once you close on your home, you are the legal owner, sometimes giving the builder less incentive to make the repairs in a timely manner.) Remember, this is your home so speak up if you see a problem.

The Closing
The closing is the last step in the building process before your move. It is the time when you become the legal owner of your new home and receive the title to the property. The closing can take place at a title company, attorney’s office, lending institution or even at a realtor’s office. (You should not close on your house if you haven’t completed a walk-through with the builder.)

What You Need to Bring
A certified or cashier’s check for the down payment and closing costs (your lender will provide you with a list of funds you will need)
Homeowner’s insurance policy and a paid-in-full receipt for the policy’s first year premium
Additional insurance for fire/flood/hazard
Property survey
Title search
Title insurance

When all fees have been paid and documents signed and notarized at the closing, you will receive a copy of each document and the title to your home. Then it is time for the last big step, moving day.

For more information about related topics, please read Tips for Hiring a Builder or Contractor, Insight on Insurance and Packing Tips.

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