A New Homeowner FAQ

The first thing that the new homeowner must do is rekey or “change the locks” or whatever you want to call it. This ensures that previous keys no longer work. This does not necessarily entail replacing the locks but that is an option.

You would replace your locks instead of rekeying them if they are trashy looking or are actually trashy, or if you seek a higher security keyway. Maybe you want a different finish, otherwise known as color. Or maybe your new house has a mishmash of incompatible locks and you want to consolidate to one key for everything, which means either replacing locks if possible the lock cylinders in the locks.

I charge more to rekey locks for which you don’t have a working key. That is because I have to somehow turn the lock cylinder, using lockpicks or some other trick. It is much faster to use a working key. Most locks cost $20 per keyhole to rekey. A keyhole is any place you stick a key to use a lock. Sometimes people get confused about how many keyholes they have to rekey and assume it is one per door. It may be up to five on one door if you have some double cylinder deadbolts!

When you ask me how much it will cost to rekey your new house I will send you these questions:

Ok there are some more things I need to know; How many keyholes are there? Do you have working keys for all of these keyholes? If so what does it say on the keys? How many keys do you want? What neighborhood is the place in? Are any of the locks on patio doors? Any electronic locks?

I charge more to drive farther. Traffic is getting harder and harder in the Seattle area. Lanes of traffic keep getting turned into bicycle lanes, bus lanes, there are more and more lights, and there are less places to park. I want to know what it says on your keys so I know if you have high security locks that I can’t rekey because of another locksmith’s restricted keyway. I want to know how many keys you want so that I can cut them before I come out to save myself time. Multipoint locks and electronic locks and also some antique locks are much more laborious to take apart so I charge more to rekey them.

I charge $4 a key which is more than the hardware store. It doesn’t hurt my feelings if you want to copy your keys at a hardware store.

Sometimes older houses don’t have deadbolts on all of the exterior doors or maybe no lock at all on an outbuilding or gate and you want one there. Then you need a new lock and a fresh install.

Your new house may lack electronic locks which can be installed on almost any door, the expense of which depends on what kind of lock is installed on the door already. It is really easy to install an electronic lock in a door prepped for them already. Many times people want me to install an electronic deadbolt on a door featuring a mortise lock which can be done but is a recipe for a lockout. Electronic locks introduce new features which improve security but may also lower security, mainly if people see you enter your code.

Often an old house has locks that may have fallen into disrepair due to doors sagging or the house settling, or in the case of house flippers the locks may not work correctly after thick foam weatherstripping was installed. If you want the locks to work properly strike adjustments and hinge adjustments must be made.

Many times there are security improvements that can be made such as ensuring that strikes are properly installed with 3″ screws or that the deadbolt extends all the way into the doorframe. Double cylinder deadbolts can be installed in garages to prevent breaking in through windows to unlock the door.

Don’t forget to reprogram your electronic keypad lock, which I can do for you or you can do yourself if you look up the instructions online. Ask the former owners for the programming code and then change it after you are done deleting old codes. The safest thing to do is a full factory reset.

For locks to work correctly the door must work correctly. If the door is not opening easily or doesn’t close all the way it is possible that the lock consequently won’t work well. I can fix some problems with doors and gates sagging. If you want me to I can plane the door which may be cheaper than buying a new door or having the door rehung.

People frequently forget to change their garage door opener’s frequency and code, or reset it. While I’ve done this for customers before it is easy to do yourself by looking up the garage door opener manual by model number and following the instructions. If you don’t it is possible that former occupants could open the garage door if their cars are still programmed to open it or they still have a “clicker” or garage door remote.

People often ask me to install security systems which I don’t do. I can only refer people to Froula or Burdick’s. I often suggest installing anti-shatter film to people with single pane windows but I don’t do it.