What to do on completion day!

Sunday, 19 February 2017

If you’re buying a house then completion day is the most exciting part of the entire process. This is the day when you officially become the owner of the house and get your keys! You can start painting, move your furniture in, and start planning exactly how you want it. But there's a few things you should be prepared to sort out first…

Get the locks changed
How many people did your vendors give their keys to? Both sets of parents so there were plenty of spares available? The decorator who painted the hallway 3 years ago? A lodger that stayed for three months, and their replacement? There could be a dozen copies of your front door, back door, shed padlock and garage keys scattered around, and you have no idea who has them.

Therefore when it comes to completion day you should make sure you have the phone number of a local locksmith who can come round and change the locks for you. I phoned someone who was able to come out for “emergencies”, but I had to wait 2 hours before he could get there. Since this was our first time buying I had no idea what time completion would be sorted by, otherwise I would have booked someone to come out for a specific time.

If you know you can get to the house quite quickly, and you know you’ll have completed by early afternoon, then you can phone around and book for the locks to be changed later that day. We paid around £150 for two locks to be changed, which from what I’d read elsewhere is pretty average in terms of cost, and was well worth it for peace of mind.

Read your meters
Before you start firing up the boiler and switching on all the lights, take meter readings. The main two are gas and electricity, but if your new home has a water meter (they’re becoming increasingly common) then you’ll need to check that as well. The quickest, easiest way to do this is to get your phone out and take a couple of snaps of the meters. That way you have a visible record of the numbers, and you can submit the readings a few days later without feeling like you need to rush.

Your property information form from the vendors should state who the current provider is. You can then phone them, submit the readings, and then you have the option to change supplier over the coming weeks. Our vendors were landlords who’d held the place at arm’s length, so our form didn’t indicate who the energy provider was. “Luckily” for us there was a pile of post waiting on the doorstep, including a collection of demands relating to an unpaid bill from the energy provider, so we instantly knew who to contact with our readings. If you don't know, and don't have an unpaid bill waiting for you, there are phone numbers online that you can call to find out who the supplier is.

Be prepared to clean
Even if your vendors are lovely people and you’ve developed a decent rapport with them, chances are you’ll still want to clean the place when you get in. This could be giving the bathroom a scrub, wiping round the kitchen before you set up the kettle, or running around with a hoover. In our case the house clearance people our vendors had hired had decided to dismantle a wardrobe in the master bedroom, and had left thousands of fragments of MDF scattered across the carpet.

You should also be prepared to clean simply because your vendors don't HAVE to clean before they hand the keys over. As long as they don't cause damage to the house (for example, smashing all the windows or knocking chunks of plaster out of all the walls) you can't legally demand that they leave the place spotless. They'll be in a rush to get to their new place, just as you're in a rush to get in. Make yourself a box of essential cleaning products (washing up liquid, Dettol, toilet cleaner, sponges, cloths and Marigolds) to keep in the car, along with your hoover if you have space. Then if the place isn't quite how you'd like it you have all the things you need on hand and easily accessible.

We hoovered up the MDF fragments. After we'd picked up 12 screws and 5 nails.

This is the most important part! Get a takeaway and pop open the bubbly, or put the kettle one. You’re in, the house is yours, and you can start doing all that decorating you’ve been planning for the past few months!

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