What is the Completion Date?
The Completion date is the date that you have legal ownership of the home. This is the day that sale proceeds are exchanged and the title of the property is transferred to the buyer. In contrast, the possession date is the date that you move in. Typically, developers ensure that the possession date occurs at least 1 day after the completion date.
What is the Deficiency Walk-Through?
Prior to completion, you should receive a “Notice of Completion Date” from the developer’s agent. This is usually 10 days prior to completion but timing can vary. You have the right to do a walkthrough of the home prior to completion. A walk-through can only occur if construction is complete and the city issues an occupancy permit to the developer. Most developers schedule the dates of walkthrough over the course of several weeks, but don’t be surprised if your walkthrough is 1 or 2 days before completion. The developer will have either a customer service representative or one of their agents or both come along. After the walk-through they will present you with a deficiency list for you to acknowledge. We recommend that you bring your realtor along to review the list with you prior to signing the deficiency list.
Can I bring someone to the walk-through?
Typically, the developers will allow you to bring someone along. We recommend having your realtor or appraiser/inspector come along. This is not always possible because some developers limit or restrict who can visit during the Walk-Through. If in doubt check your agreement or ask your realtor.
- Do I need an Appraisal at Completion?
You may need one depending on your bank, or mortgage broker’s requirements. Check in with your lender when you get your “NOTICE OF COMPLETION DATE”. You do not want to cause any delay in the Completion because this may result in a penalty charge. If an appraisal is required by your lender, book your appraisal with the developer in advance of completion date.
What if I go alone. What do I look for?
We understand that COMPLETION can be a time of excitement but there can be a limited time to make arrangements. While we recommend bringing your realtor, if you are going alone, here is an online Deficiency Walk-Through checklist to bring along with you.
For the Do-it-yourself folks, here are some things to remember as a rough guide:
If you have one, bring a level, measuring tape, phone/tablet camera, flashlight, mirror, the original sample finishes or specification of finishes you were promised.
- Open and close all doors. See that doors are well-fitted and operate as intended.
- Make sure paint on doors are finished on all sides.
- Be certain locks, deadbolts operate properly without binding
- Look for warping on doors.
- Hinges should be clean and free of paint.
- Sometimes doors must be trimmed to be aligned. Check the top and bottom gaps to be relatively level.
- Check that locks are well-installed and do not rattle when the door is closed.
- Check that the exterior doors have been sealed with weather-stripping.
- Open and Close all windows.
- Determine that locks operate properly.
- Tracks should be lubricated to prevent binding.
- Make sure screens are in place and not torn.
- Look for broken panes.
- Walk the perimeter of each room, checking floor and ceiling moldings to be sure they are uniform.
- Look for gaps that need caulking, protruding nail heads and proper finish.
- Examine all wall and ceiling surfaces under natural light and, if possible, under artificial illumination. Poor drywall work tends to show most when the lights are on.
- Look for visible seams, nail heads that have popped out and other irregularities.
- Be sure the walls are square. Otherwise, the tile floor or patterned vinyl floor will be askew.
- Inspect the wall finishes for uneven paint coverage.
- Be sure all wall outlets and switches operate correctly.
- Test light fixtures, making certain they are attached securely and contain the correct-wattage bulbs.
- Locate the main electrical panel and review the function of each circuit breaker and fuse.
- Your new home must be equipped with ground fault and arc fault circuit interrupters (GFCI and AFCI). GFCIs protect bathroom and exterior receptacle circuits, while AFCIs protect bedroom receptacle circuits. Ask your builder how to test these devices.
- Tile and vinyl flooring should be clean and free of chips and cracks.
- Check for missing grout, and be sure molding is installed and painted or stained.
- Walk all carpeted areas, checking for loose fits at the edges, ripples in the middle and squeaks in the subfloor.
- Walk across all floors. You should hear only a minimum of squeaks and notice a minimum of spring when walking on the floor. Due to the nature of wood, a wood floor system will have a certain amount of unevenness.
- See that floor coverings have a relatively flat surface.
- Examine seams in carpets and vinyl to ensure they are tight.
- Inspect ceramic tiles for surface cracks. Joints between ceramic tiles should be well-filled with grout.
- Inspect flooring for damage.
- Examine carpeting for stains or shade variations.
- Check countertops for scratches and abrasions, a frequent complaint.
- Make sure cabinets and appliances are level and properly anchored to the wall or secured to the countertops.
- Check all doors and drawers. They should open fully and without binding.
- Ask for the instruction manuals for every appliance in the home – the range, refrigerator, dishwasher, furnace, heat pump, water heater, electronic thermostat, everything.
- Did you get all the appliances in your agreement? Refrigerator, Oven (gas burner, electric, or glass-top?), Dishwasher, microwave, hood fan. Check if the appliance brands were what you expected or similar replacement used.
- Look for scratches and nicks in the sink as well as the shower enclosure and tub.
- Run the water in the tub and ensure that stoppers hold water, and that the shower strainer is fastened securely.
- Make certain the toilet is securely fastened to the floor. Sit on the toilet to see if it is secure and look if the hole for the toilet/floor is sealed.
- Check that the paint in the bathroom is painted with special paint to be more waterproof and durable. It should be a little glossy not flat.
- While you’re at it, be sure to see if the toilet-paper dispenser is at the right distance and height especially if you have elderly in the house.
- Check for chips in bathtubs, toilets and sinks.
- Ensure that all faucets work properly.
- Check that cabinets are securely fixed to the wall.
- Examine caulking around tub and shower enclosures and at countertop backsplashes.
- Turn on the heat, fireplace and test it.
- Check the furnace and hot water heater.
- Ask about the capacity, shut-off mechanisms and the type of filtering systems installed.
- Review the operation of your heating system.
- Locate the furnace filters and ask about their care and maintenance.
- Ensure that heat registers are not located below a thermostat.
- Check the location and number of cold air returns and make sure they are unobstructed.
- Learn the location of any fuel lines (gas, propane) and understand how to operate any shut-off devices on these lines.
- Locate the switches for ventilation and circulation fans (normally placed near the thermostat).
- Locate supplemental fans and switches in each bathroom and in the kitchen and ensure they are operating. Make sure you understand how to achieve proper ventilation in order to avoid condensation problems which may not be covered under the warranty.
- Locate the shut-off valves for the main water supply and the location of other shut-off valves throughout your home.
- Check for damage to countertops, cupboard doors, sinks and appliances.
- Ensure that cabinet doors are properly aligned.
- Check spaces for standard appliances unless specific measurements were given to your builder. The space allotted for your appliances should be correct.
- Test the range hood fan and light.
- Make sure there are electrical outlets above the counter.
- Are all the appliances included in the unit as per contract?
- Make sure that doors are secure and that they open and close easily.
Upgrades and options
- Faucets and showers as you expect?
- Was vinyl flooring promised….ask if it is vinyl vs. laminate.
- Are the finish in bathroom tiles, counters, floors as per contract?
- Are the finish of countertops (granite, marble, Caesarstone quartz) as per contract?
- Is the carpet and padding underneath even?
- Was my powder room built?
- Was my floor upgraded to real wood?
- Find out the location of your Storage and Bike locker (if any) and ask about key access
- Find out the location of your parking stall.
- Check around pipes and windows for condensation.
- Look for fogginess inside windows or in between window panes.
- Look for wet dark spots on walls or ceilings
Congratulations on the purchase of your new home!
Remember that you don’t have to catch everything during this walk-through because major concerns are covered in the home warranty. One tip to leave with you is to “pick your battles” and ensure that the developer addresses the major key deficiencies within a specific timeframe in mind.
Author: Meryl Hamdillah is a REALTOR with Sutton WestCoast Group and is an active community writer in Tri-Cities and Vancouver. If you are interested in a real estate or community topic in Tri-Cities or Metro Vancouver, feel free to call me.