Even after watching our fair share of home renovation shows, some of us still have trouble hanging pictures on the wall. So, naturally, buying a house that requires a lot of work is a non-starter. For those of us who don’t have the skills, the vision or, let’s be honest, the time to go full-on flip, we turn to a renovated home, where the only remodeling decision we’ll make is paint color (and even that might be pushing it).
Although it’s easy to fall in love with beautiful new fixtures or stylish tile work in the kitchen it’s important look closely at the home before putting in an offer (a more formal inspection comes after the offer is accepted). Unfortunately, that fresh coat of paint or new drywall might be covering up a not-so-pretty problem that could cost you thousands in the future.
Here are four key tips for avoiding pitfalls when shopping for a renovated home:
1. Don’t Forget About the Roof
Of all the things that might catch your eye in a newly renovated home—the spa-like bathroom, the crown molding in the living room—it’s not likely the roof is one of them but you should give it a look.
“One of the biggest things to watch out for in a renovated home is the age and condition of the roof,” says Ryan Wall, head of renovations for Bungalo in Tampa. “If you’re so focused on the shower glass and the nice tilework you might forget about it. It’s not something you want to be surprised with.”
Roofs typically last about 20 years, so be sure to ask about the age and condition and look for any signs of chipping, curling or cracks.
2. Don’t Be Afraid to Really Investigate the House
When you put in an offer on a home, you’ll have the opportunity to hire an inspector who looks at the major functions and overall condition of the house. But you can get a head start before it ever gets to that point.
Sometimes these investigations can make you feel a little silly—like opening and closing all the doors, turning on all the faucets in the house at once to test the water pressure, or opening and closing the windows—but they can help you learn so much about the home.
“There’s a saying that we have in the Dallas-Fort Worth area, a prime area for flipping,” says Clayton Bailey, owner of Dallas-based Green Scene Home Inspections. “We call it ‘putting lipstick on a pig.’” Yes, they’ve put in new appliances, drywall, and doors, says Bailey, but you should look beyond these quick beautifiers for clear quality.
In addition to walking around the home and making sure things work, it’s also good to check on whether the work was properly licensed and permitted. You can find that simply by looking up the license on any state government website.
3. Walk Around the House—Literally
Not all problems will surface inside the home. Don’t skip over walking around the entire property, especially the area right outside the house.
“Make sure you walk all the way around the house,” says Bailey. “Look for cracks in the bricks or separations in the windows. On a renovated home, builders might try to cover that up.”
4. Make Sure the House Really Fits Your Needs
One of the biggest pitfalls when looking at a renovated home is not stopping to ask yourself if this home is actually going to fit the bill for you and your family. Sure, that open concept kitchen is Instagram-worthy, but Is it going to work for your day-to-day life?
“You’re going to want to ask yourself—does this home work for me? Is my furniture going to fit in the house?,” says Wall. “It’s all menial stuff, but it gets ignored when you’re excited about the fixtures.”
This article is meant for informational purposes only and is not intended to be construed as financial, tax, legal, real estate, insurance, or investment advice. Bungalo always encourages you to reach out to an advisor regarding your own situation.