What Can I Expect After I Move In?

Know What to Expect to Avoid Panic


Imagine it’s been a few months since your custom-built home was completed. 

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Common Concerns


You’ve moved the furniture in, decorated your favorite spots with mementos and other personal belongings, and even hosted a few housewarming and dinner parties. Your home is the envy of the neighborhood and your friends marvel at the attention to detail and excellent craftsmanship. 

But there are no perfect homes, and a fact of new home construction involves the foundation settling and minor cracks appearing. Many of the cracks appear because your home is adjusting to temperature and humidity changes—builders can’t build your home under factory-controlled conditions. So don’t panic when minor cracks appear. This is completely normal!

To help ease your fears, here’s a list of common situations that occur in new homes. Builders are often asked these questions (and plenty more) from panic-stricken homeowners who fear their perfect home is now laden with problems. Remember, thousands of components were used to put together your home over an extended period of time, so settling and minor adjustments should be expected. A good builder will address your concerns promptly and work with you.


So what can you expect?:


  • Trim Molding Cracking: This is very common and there’s no way around it. Expect to find minor cracking and separation in your moldings, especially in two-story homes. Settling, heat expansion, and contraction will occur as your home acclimates to the new temperature conditions inside from running your air conditioner and heating systems. This does not mean there is anything structurally wrong with your home. Cracks in your molding actually look worse than they really are. A qualified handyman can caulk these minor cracks within minutes, and after the repair you shouldn’t be able to tell there was ever a crack at all.


  • Grout Cracking: Another common spot to find minor cracking is in the tub and shower or kitchen backsplash area. You may notice cracks appearing along the grout lines between tiles or in the corners of these areas. Again, a handyman with the appropriate sealant can take care of this. It’s a good idea, however, to add the sealant quickly to prevent moisture from seeping behind the tile and causing any damage.


  • Hardwood Expansion and Contraction: If you have hardwood floors professionally installed in your home (not constructed from a pre-fabricated kit), you can expect to find some minor cracks or swells, appearing over time. The hardwood acclimates to the temperature and humidity of your home (again due to cool air and heat) after installation and the wood planks will expand and contract. This is normal! It’s best to allow the wood to expand and contract for at least six months so it completely settles before making any repairs. A professional installer or handyman can putty in the minor cracks.


  • Window and Door Adjustments: Even windows and doors will need time to adjust to the temperature after a new home is finished. The doors, locks, door handles, and deadbolts may need some minor adjustment. This is completely normal.


  • Cracks in the Sidewalk, Driveway and Garage: It is not uncommon for minor cracking to occur along concrete sidewalks, driveways, and even inside the garage or basement. Expansion and contraction also happens here because of the varying temperature conditions that the concrete is exposed to. As long as you don’t notice a difference in the height of the concrete on either side of the crack, don’t worry. These cracks are normal. It does not mean that there is anything wrong with the concrete foundation. Typically cracks in concrete are not mended unless there is a height difference between the concrete on either side.


  • Receptacle Not Working: If a receptacle (wall plug) in the bathroom, kitchen, garage, or in the home’s exterior mysteriously stops working, don’t be alarmed. It may just be a tripped circuit. The current electrical code requires builders to put in a receptacle called a GFCI, or Ground Fault Circuit Interrupter. This measure is added for your safety to prevent accidental electrocution. These receptacles have an internal trip circuit built in that acts as a safety mechanism when there is water and electricity coming in contact. If there is an electrical surge, the receptacle will trip the GFCI and automatically cuts off the electricity. Since four or five receptacles can be located on one circuit, it may be necessary to reset it. You’ll need to look for a small button on the receptacle and push it. The button is usually located in the center of the receptacle site. If your receptacle continues to trip on a regular basis, call your builder or electrician to check out the problem.


This is by no means a complete list of situations that may occur after you move into your home. If you have a more specific question or situation, contact your builder to determine the best approach to fix the problem.

Some movements, and some cracks may appear. Don’t panic, just try to keep humidity level consistent. The fix is usually fast and it doesn’t mean you have a defective house.


-Sean Sullivan


Building A Quality Custom Home

Want to know more? This book by Sean Sullivan is full of helpful information in easy-to-read chapters like this blog post.

It is a step-by-step guide to the “must-know” issues of building your dream home. Discover the custom-home construction secrets that could save you headaches, heartaches, and thousands (if not tens of thousands) of dollars.

Building A Custom Home