There are many benefits to purchasing a unit in new construction. You are moving into a never before lived-in apartment with all the latest and most fabulous finishes and appliances. However, you still need to scrutinize the condo. You are bound to find issues that you will want to take care of before moving in, even if these are minor. Therefore, as per standard practice, we advise you to verify a “punch list” or a checklist of things you want the sponsor to address and fix, ideally before closing on your newly constructed apartment. Typically if the punch list is incomplete before closing, according to most contract terms, they will have reasonable time to correct.
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The sponsor is not legally obligated to fix these issues, providing the unit meets the building code per the offering plan. Still, most contracts contain language regarding punch lists, particularly when a large developer is involved.
Depending on the size of the apartment, process, and amount of items on a punch list, we recommend not closing unless the punch list is reasonable in size. To bigger punch list can lead to much frustration; if you have moved into your new apartment only to deal with contractors coming and going. That would be less than ideal.
Typically, sponsors only include “commercially reasonable” language in the contract. Such language is vague and makes it even more important that you create a punch list. Ideally, your entire list is completed to your satisfaction upon inspection when you do your final walkthrough.
Before you walk into your newly constructed apartment, check the common area to make sure everything is in the right order, and then ring your doorbell to make sure it works. Then, in your walk around the unit, you should check that everything is in good working order and the proper condition. Cracked windows are visible to see, but it should open and close smoothly, and lock. The windows also need to be adequately sealed. The wood floors should not have scratches while the carpets are stain-free. You can also visually check that moldings and trim are where it is supposed to be, and it looks right. The tiled floors should not have any scratches or other blemishes.
You should ensure you are happy with the paint job checking for nicks, scratches, and a bad finish, but do not forget to look in hidden places, including closets. Beyond the paint job, the walls should not contain any dents.
Open and close the doors to ensure you can do so smoothly, and watch for “stickiness.” in the front door, which you should make sure locks and unlocks appropriately.
Look out for in the kitchen
The cabinets and countertops need checking. Not only should these function properly, but you need to ensure they are not damaged in any way. Certain materials look nice but are known for scratching easily. Also, inspect carefully for any chops or cracks, which might’ve happened during installation. It is an easy fix, but the cabinet hardware should not only be present but installed correctly, which you can tell through opening and closing.
The sponsor might have promised various options, such as garbage disposal, alarm, and intercom. If your unit comes with a fireplace, start it up.
Make your Punch List Checklist
You can make your list with a pen and paper, notepad if an iPhone user, or print and use ours below. The important thing is to document it and forward the punch list to our attorney before closing. It is easy for these items to get misplaced since you likely will not see the contractors, but you want the instruction manuals and warranties. The sponsor should account for all of the unit’s keys.
You do not have to be an electrician to check the electricity. You can quickly check the receptacles by plugging your charger. The sponsor should have overseen sure the plates are installed correctly and screwed in nice and tight. Similarly, you can check the ceilings fans and lights by flipping all the switches on and off. It may seem minor, but you should verify the switches and receptacles are the right color.
A ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI) is an outlet that protects people from electrical shock — found in the kitchen and bathroom. There is a test and reset button built-in, making it easy to make sure it works. Testing the telephone jack requires you to bring your phone. Similarly, you will need your laptop to check the network jacks.
- Receptacles: You can quickly check the electrical sockets by plugging in a phone charger.
- Switches and receptacles: See that these are the right color.
- Plates are installed and screwed in nice and tight.
- Ceilings fans & lights: Flip all the switches on and off.
- Ground-fault circuit interrupter (GFCI): There is a test and reset button built-in, making it easy to make sure it works. An outlet that protects people from an electrical shock; typically found in the kitchen and bathroom.
- Network jacks: You will need your laptop to check the network jacks.
You should go around to each bathroom and flush the toilets. Turn on the faucets and check both the hot and cold water. You should do this in the kitchen and bathroom sinks, as well as the tub. Also lets you check the water pressure to see if it is to your liking.
- Toilets: Go around to each bathroom and flush the toilets.
- Faucets: Turn these on and off, checking both the hot and cold water. Simultaneously, you check the water pressure to see if it is to your liking.
When you are taking your tour and making your list, use this opportunity to turn them on and off. Including the dishwasher, washing machine, and dryer. Try the oven, too. Do not forget the refrigerator. You want to make sure the freezer works, and along with all the items that come with it, such as an ice cube maker, and any fancy bells and whistles.
- Washing machine
- Refrigerator: Try out the freezer, ice cube maker, and any fancy bells and whistles.
A/C and Heat
You do not necessarily think about one of these items in a particular season. But, try out the entire HVAC system. You can see that both the heat and air conditioning work, and how long it takes for each to come on.
- Air conditioning
- Doorbell: Ring to make sure it works
- Windows: Check for cracks and that it opens and closes smoothly, as well as locks properly. Inspect that it sealed correctly and that there are no drafts.
- Wooden floors: Check for scratches and damage
- Carpets: Stain-free, installed properly
- Base and Crown Moldings: Molding and trim
- Tiled floors: These should not have any scratches or other blemishes
- Paint: Look for nicks, scratches, and a bad finish
- Walls: No dents
- Doors: All doors should open and close smoothly, and the lock should work correctly.
- Cabinets: Check for damage; make sure the hardware is attached.
- Countertops: Looks for scratches and cracks.
- Other options: These might include garbage disposal, alarm, intercom, and fireplace.
- Keys: The sponsor should account for all of the apartment keys.
- Instruction manuals and warranties