How to Tell If an Older Home Has Good Bones
When buying a house, appearances can be deceptive. The outside of a house can draw buyers in with beautiful landscaping and elegant accents, but do you know whether that house has good bones or not?
The bones of a house – the foundation, the beams, the internal structures – are very important to the longevity of that home. A home that lacks this might look nice, but you will probably discover problems quickly. Likewise, a home that looks old on the outside might have excellent bones that make it a smarter buying decision.
If you are thinking about buying a home, or perhaps selling your home, consider whether the house has good bones with these tips for both buying and selling an older home.
For Those Buying an Older Home
Before we dive into tips, let’s define what we mean when we say a house has good bones. Many people have heard this phrase, but fewer can actually tell you specifically what it means. If you are planning to buy, you want to have a clear idea of what you should be looking for.
A house has good bones when it has a sturdy roof and good sized rooms, to start with. These are easy things for a home buyer to just look at and get an idea of. If rooms feel cramped and awkward that is not a good sign.
You will also want to find out what the home is built from. You want a strong foundation and solid materials. You might be surprised to learn that wood quality has generally declined over time, with newer homes using lower quality wood than many older ones.
A few more things to look for include: good floors, solid plumbing, an appealing floor plan, and a good location. These all contribute to whether a house has good bones or not.
1. An Old House with Good Bones Can be a Great Value
When looking for a home, it’s easy to get caught up in the allure of a brand new house. Many people do. However, just because a home is new it does not mean that house has good bones. That is not a guarantee of any kind of quality.
If this is the route you are thinking of going, you will need to learn about financing a new house, which can be very different from financing an old or existing house. This is especially true if you plan to build from the ground up to get your new home.
For many people, this approach is not as good in terms of value as getting an older home with good bones. A home with a solid foundation and good beams might actually end up costing you less than a brand new home, even if you do a lot of remodeling.
Of course, this depends on how deep you go with your remodel. More than a third (35%) of remodeling jobs involve the entire house and not just an isolated section. That’s a big, and likely expensive, job. It is also a job that will expose the bones of the home. If you intend to buy and then remodel, you definitely want to know that the house has good bones. Otherwise, you could find that you run into additional problems and costs in the midst of the remodel.
2. Check Out the Siding and Roofing
As mentioned above, the siding and roofing are critical to the overall “bones” of the house. They are integral to the structure of the home.
When buying a home, take note of what kind of siding it has. Metal siding, for example, is strong and durable and doesn’t require a lot of maintenance, though it can be energy-efficient and prone to rusting.
In contrast, vinyl siding is nice because it is cheap and low maintenance. You don’t even need to paint it. However, it can result in other maintenance issues and can show its age quickly. It’s not as strong as something like metal, which is more expensive but makes for better “bones.”
The choice of material is important when it comes to the roof as well. Tiles can crack and break, though they are a common standard material. These days, things like metal, solar panels, and even plants are offering interesting roofing alternatives.
If you aren’t sure if the roof of the home is sound, you might be able to get advice from a local contractor or roofing company. It is possible that the roof is good, but old and therefore needs a little attention to get back in top shape. That doesn’t mean the house doesn’t have good bones.
3. Don’t Overlook the Garage
Garages often stand separate from the rest of the house and that can lead many to believe they are not as important when assessing whether a house has good bones. However, that is not true, especially if the house was made at the same time by the same construction company. In that case, the garage could actually provide invaluable insight into the bones of the rest of the house.
For example, a leaky garage could indicate that the rest of the house might be more shoddy than it appears. Likewise, a well-maintained and sturdy garage could be a sign of high quality everywhere else.
You could also look at the roof and doors. They might be more accessible in the garage than in the rest of the house. If the garage roof is the same material as the house roof, you can get up close with the materials and see if the house has good bones when it comes to roofing materials.
Likewise, garage doors that are in good repair may put a home buyer’s mind at ease. Garage doors get a lot of use and are exposed to the elements, so they take quite a beating over time. Sturdy garage doors are definitely a positive sign.
4. Good Plumbing = Good Bones
Finally, look at the plumbing of the home. If you don’t feel qualified for that task, talk with a local plumbing contractor about the plumbing in a house you plan to buy. An inspector should also be able to assess the quality of the plumbing.
The plumbing is almost literally the “bones” of any house. It runs through and beneath the house and a problem here is often a problem everywhere. Bad plumbing can result in leaks that require residential water damage repair services. If possible, learn if the house has had these types of repairs in the past, as it might indicate an ongoing plumbing issue.
You shouldn’t just look at the pipes themselves. Check drainage and gutters and things like that to see how well water flows through and out of the house. Drains that are backed up could lead to problems even if the pipes themselves seem like they’re sound. These are things that are simple for buyers to check during a walk-through or inspection.
The plumbing extends past the house itself, however. Sometimes, an inspection will include some pipes and plumbing that connect to the street and the larger plumbing system. These can impact individual homes, so it is important to look at the bigger picture in this regard when trying to find out whether a house has good bones.
For Those Selling an Older Home
Those helpful buying tips may help those trying to sell an older home as well. It may be the case that you bought your home so long ago that you don’t remember whether the house has good bones or not. The tips listed above could help you do a self-inspection to try to learn that information.
However, home buyers are looking at more than just bones. The overall look of the home will influence their decision drastically. These choices aren’t just about looks, though. Things like cleaning and painting can actually help make the underlying structures of the home stronger. Here are some ways you can show off your older home to its fullest potential with simple, easy actions.
1. Add a Fresh Coat of Paint to an Old Home
Don’t underestimate how much work a fresh coat of paint can do for a home. A simple paint job can give an older home a fresh look.
It isn’t about hiding damage or covering up imperfections. If the house has good bones, then you don’t need to do any of that. You do still need to show off the home’s potential and appeal, however, and a simple coat of paint can make a huge difference in that regard.
Sometimes, painting a home is a simple job of freshening up door or a single room. Sometimes, however, it is a major job that requires a little extra help. You don’t have to try to do all this on your own. You can hire quality residential painting services to help you get this job done.
Painting is about more than just the aesthetics. Often, painting can help protect surfaces they get a lot of use. For example, repainting your garage door can actually add a fresh layer of weather proofing to help seal it against rain and other harsh outdoor elements.
Painting and weather proofing can be a task you take on at the same time. This is great for outdoor structures, siding, bathroom walls, and other places where damage is likely to accrue. Choose paints that also help to seal out moisture for added protection.
2. Do a Deep Clean
Cleaning is a great way to ensure your house has good bones and show off its full potential to buyers. We aren’t talking about wiping down the windows and vacuuming the floors, here, either. We’re talking about a deep clean that gets into every overlooked crack and crevice of your home.
For example, you might have neglected your gutters for a while. Now is the time to return to those. The gutters affect the roof and the bones of the house. Backed up gutters can lead to water and other damage, which is why gutter and downspout cleaning is so important not just for appearances but also for the health of the house.
Remember how we mentioned plumbing above? Plumbing is going to be a major thing smart home buyers look at when assessing whether a house has good bones or not.
One simple thing you can do to take care of your plumbing gets a drain cleaning service. Drains can easily get clogged and back up just from average, everyday use. This isn’t a major structural issue with the house, but a discerning buyer might look twice at backed up drains. A clean can leave everything running smoothly and reassure buyers.
Other places to clean include the carpets and floors. Whether you went with hardwood or carpets, your floors have probably taken a beating simply from the stresses of everyday use. Getting a carpet shampooed can completely change how fresh and clean it and the rest of the house looks. Likewise, getting repairs done on those small imperfections that tend to build up on floors can make your home look far younger than its real age.
3. Don’t Forget the Landscaping
Finally, don’t forget the outside of your home. The landscaping isn’t directly connected to the bones of the home, but it is still important. Those taking a closer look might note a large tree that drops debris into a home’s gutters, for example. That can actually have an impact on whether a house has good bones.
A residential landscaping service can help you settle on a landscaping design that can really show off your home. It’s no good fixing and painting and cleaning if the first thing buyers see is a messy unappealing yard that turns them away.
Landscaping can enhance the character of your older home. A stone pathway can add a lot of charm. Even if the path is new, you can make material choices that allow it to blend in with the existing structures of the home.
Landscaping can also help prevent damage. Tree removal can prevent damage to the structure of the house. A garden can help with runoff and rainwater. There are many ways the landscaping can complement a house with good bones and show off its full potential.