Rule: The Bumps and Creaks You Hear Are the House Settling
Could very well be true. A new house is constantly adjusting to the land beneath it with subtle shifts and moves. More likely, you're hearing the boards in floors and walls expanding as they heat up and contracting as they cool, or expanding in humid weather and shrinking in dry, creaking as they shift against the nails or one another, says Mike Litchfield, author of Renovation, 3rd Edition ($40, amazon.com). Still, it's wise to pay attention to these sounds, advises Judy Ostrow, author of The House That Jill Built: A Woman's Guide to Home Building ($25, amazon.com): Creaking could signal a loose floorboard, and crunching or scratching sounds could indicate the presence of rodents or insects.