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Homeowner Orientation

Your new home is nearly complete. You are preparing for the closing and getting ready to move. (Where did all this stuff come from?) At this point your builder will contact you to schedule an appointment for your homeowner orientation. A Homeowner Orientation is a meeting at your new home that provides you with a thorough demonstration of your new home and an opportunity to confirm that the builder installed all of your selections as you ordered them.

Finishing Touches

Unless your orientation occurs the same day as your closing, expect your builder to make noticeable progress on remaining items prior to your movein. The benefit of a few days between orientation and closing are clear. Builders who operate on that schedule may set a second appointment the day of closing to confirm which orientation items are complete and update you on any remaining items.

If your home needs a part or a particular trade contractor must be called back, extra time may be needed to complete the work. The builder should keep you informed of the expected schedule for the remaining items. The typical time frame is 10 to 30 days.

Gaining access to occupied homes to complete orientation items is a concern to homeowners and builders alike. Builders today are more likely to ask that an adult be present while any work is performed in your home. Making appointments around your busy schedule may result in service taking longer than anyone wants. Your cooperation is essential. Builder and trade contractor service hours are typically from 7 a.m. to 4 p.m. or from 8 a.m. to 5 p.m., Monday through Friday.

Materials Delivered

Besides the orientation forms, builders deliver some additional items at the orientation. Ordinarily these items include—

  • Emergency phone numbers for contacting critical trade contractors (electrical, plumbing, heating) outside of normal business hours.
  • Manufacturer warranties and booklets for appliances, furnace, air conditioner, and so on. If any are missing, the builder will note that and obtain copies for you.
  • A touchup kit, typically including small cans of touchup paint, caulk, and so on.
  • Signed copies of the orientation forms completed during this meeting (By signing these forms you acknowledge that cosmetic surfaces and breakable items in your new home are in proper condition. Exceptions should be written on your orientation list.


Whether you close in escrow or in person, the key to settlement is preparation. By addressing the details during the weeks before closing, you have time to resolve any last minute glitches calmly.

  • Insurance You need to obtain and present proof of a home owner’s policy from your insurance company. Your insurance agent will have a standardized form for this purpose. Arrange for proof of insurance no later than 3 weeks before the expected closing date. This insurance policy should list your lender as also insured. Check with your loan officer ahead of time to learn the complete legal name to be used in this reference. Your insurance agent will need the name and phone number of your lender and will want to know the location of the nearest fire hydrant, the type of construction of the home, and price.
  • Utilities Your goal is to have service provided in your name beginning as close to the date of the closing as possible. The utility companies may shut service off if the builder’s name is removed from the account without yours taking its place. Make no assumptions about the availability of telephone service and do not rely on the experience of your new neighbors. Workloads change and lead times fluctuate. Call early to avoid inconvenience. Cable TV may not be available until a predetermined number of homes are occupied in a new area.
  • Unresolved Issues Your builder and lender may attend the closing but are not required to do so. Closing agents are not authorized to negotiate or make representations on behalf of any party involved in the closing. If any issues remain unresolved, you are not ready to close. Finalize all agreements before closing.
  • Lender Conditions or Contingencies Your loan approval may have included one or more contingencies. You must satisfy all loan conditions in order to close. For example, if closing the sale on a previous residence was a condition of loan approval, you need copies of those closing documents to close on your new home.
  • The Final Number The amount of money you must bring to closing includes items such as property tax and interest on your new loan. These items are subject to proration and change depending on the exact date of closing. Therefore the closing agent cannot calculate the total until the closing date is set. A federal law, the Real Estate Settlement Procedures Act (RESPA) provides you with the right to see the final figures 24 hours before closing. Just ask for them.
  • Form of Payment Depending on the requirements of your lender, you may need to bring cash or certified funds to closing. Allow time to obtain these funds. Remember that banks sometimes place a hold on funds moving to your account from another source. Check with your closing agent regarding how to make out the check. You can usually cover minor, lastminute adjustments in costs with your personal check.


Builder systems vary but the following guidelines are typical of most orientation programs.

  • Although you may be aware of an approximate time weeks in advance, expect several days notice for the specific orientation appointment.
  • Most builders schedule the orientation for several days before the closing appointment. This practice provides time to complete items noted before you move in.
  • Allow a minimum of 2 hours for the orientation. Most take 90 minutes, others up to 4 hours.
  • Avoid scheduling your orientation over a lunch hour or on a day when other appointments compete for your attention.
  • Avoid late afternoon appointments. Dramatic streams of sunlight or harsh shadows, caused by a setting sun make it difficult to see surfaces clearly.
  • Generally builders offer appointments Monday through Friday, from 8 a.m.

What’s Next?

While the builder is attending to these last details for your move. All the thinking, planning, deciding, paying, and waiting are about to give way to carrying, unpacking, arranging, and yes, more paying. But some paperwork called closing is next.