#1 scrape your popcorn ceilings before you move in. if you are thinking about doing it, do it. otherwise you'll move in and never do it because it's a) too messy or b) too time consuming. just do it before your furniture is in. oh, and before you replace or clean existing flooring.
#2 replace or clean the floors. all of them. upgrade your flooring now while you don't have any furniture to move out of the way. get your carpets cleaned or else suffer the wrath of peoples' old stains creeping back to the surface. just do it.
#3 garbage disposal. we went back and forth on this, and at the time decided not to spend the $100+ on it. hindsight: i wish we had one. sink strainers get nasty. that is all.
#4 get a home inspector that you have personally checked out and who has great reviews. we took my realtor's suggestion with a home inspector (looking back, they probably had some shady deal worked out together)--this guy was scared of ladders, so slowly climbed up a few steps (with his butt out, clinging for dear life), popped his head in the attic and came right back down. thankfully, the house was built pretty well, and we haven't had any issues, but there have been multiple things we've thought he should've noticed/warned us about. he had zero input.
#5 paint/fix/replace baseboards (shortly after you're satisfied with your flooring). again, it's easier with an empty house. ours were installed by what i can only imagine was a 5 year old who didn't know what the word "miter" means. add crown moulding while you're at it. if you can learn how to do it (there are lots of tutorials on youtube + tools to make it easy), it's not terribly expensive and it makes a room feel finished and more high-end.
#6 exchange hollow core doors for something more high end. real wood looks nicer, lasts longer, is more soundproof, and takes a beating if you ever want to rent out your fixer upper.
i mean, there's no comparison
#7 replace bathtubs or have them refinished. i'd have liked to replace our bathtub with something roomier for one, but since that wasn't in the budget, i wish we would've had it spray refinished so it felt brand new. even on it's cleanest day, it doesn't scream luxurious spa like i'd like it to.
#8 while we're at it, let's replace the toilets. sitting on a toilet that hasn't been sat on by strangers is just a nice feeling. they're not that expensive. it's also nice to have toilets that don't require juggling or holding down handles to flush. (ew, germs). plus american standard has a toilet without the nasty pipe outline on the side so it stays cleaner. or how about the touchless flush toilets. or the water-saving toilets for number one and number two ;)
|image from google|
#10 replace windows. for one, our current house only has SIX windows. SIX! that's all! and most of them do not lock. yikes! windows aren't that expensive. but after you move in, it's a hassle. that's a lot of work (and patching AND painting to the interior AND exterior!) but, if we'd done it prior to move in our house would be safer, more energy efficient and brighter! (because, hello! that living room window would've been doubled in size)