Signs Your Home Renovation Was Done Cheaply

It’s easy to fall in love with a property when you’re shopping for real estate, but don’t let Cupid’s arrow keep you from noticing the house was cheaply renovated.

If you’re on the hunt for a new home, it’s important to be on the lookout for signs that all is not as it seems. In most major housing markets, there are plenty of properties that have been “flipped,” as in bought for cheap and then remodeled quickly with the hopes of selling it for a tidy profit.

Some flipped houses are actually great investments since they’ve got brand new amenities. But others are a complete disaster hiding just under that sparkling new veneer.

What are the telltale signs of a house flip gone wrong? Here’s what to keep an eye out for.

Kitchen

Granite countertops and gleaming white surfaces tend to be what catches the eyes of prospective buyers. But if you want to know if a bright, newly remodeled kitchen is built properly and made to last, look at the layout.

A cheap flip job typically won’t follow the classic kitchen triangle design that positions the fridge, stove, and sink all within easy reach of each other. While you’re at it, open all the cabinet drawers and doors. A poorly done renovation will often result in doors that don’t fully open or that block access to other areas when they are open.

Another area to look at is the seams and joints where two areas meet each other, like where your backsplash comes together with your countertop. If there are gaps, it was probably a slapdash effort. And things that are slapped together quickly tend to fall apart just as quickly.

Bathroom

Bathrooms are another common room that gets redone during a house flip since a pristine new bathroom can bump up the selling price significantly.

To get a sense of the work quality, inspect the tiling. Sharp, clean cuts near the edges of the tilework point to good craftsmanship. So do grout lines that are crisp and even. Tilework that doesn’t make a smooth transition to an adjacent surface is a sign of shoddy work.

Water damage is another thing to look out for. If existing water damage has been painted over or otherwise covered up in a recent renovation, it will tend to show up as subtle differences in paint color on the walls and ceiling or as warping and bubbling.

Flooring

A dead giveaway of a bad flip is the flooring. Flooring that doesn’t lie flat, especially around the door jambs and base molding, is a giant waving red flag. It shows that the flooring was laid down in a hurry, without taking the time to remove the jambs and molding first for a flush fit.

A badly laid floor can also point to deeper problems with the plumbing and electrical work since it shows that the proper care and attention weren’t taken to ensure that the “bones” of the job were set in place before moving onto the finishing details.

Doors

The devil is in the details, and one of those details in a cheap house flip is the doors. As you’re doing your walkthrough, pay close attention to how the doors, both interior and exterior, feel when you open and close them. A functioning door that is installed well will close smoothly and latch firmly. Wonky doors won’t, and they’ll also open or close on their own.

This happens when a contractor cuts corners by installing a new door but keeping the old jamb. It’s actually pretty tricky to get a new door to line up with an old jamb, so reputable contractors will typically replace both the door and the jamb at the same time to ensure they are correctly aligned.

Don’t be shy about bringing a level with you to place on the doors and their frames. This will give you valuable information about whether the work was done “fair and square.”

Plumbing

A good way to test the plumbing is to turn on all of the taps and let them run for a bit. Do this in the bathroom and kitchen. Look at the water pressure and clarity of the water, and see if any water leaks out from the base of the faucets. Also, take a peek underneath the counter to see if the pipes show any signs of leaking.

Electric

Electrical work is a bit harder to assess when you’re viewing a property since you can’t very well open up the walls to check the wiring.

What you can do is flip all the light switches on and keep them on simultaneously. That may be enough to bring to light a truly bad (and dangerous) wiring job in which too many fixtures have been wired to the same circuit.

You can also evaluate the placement of the light switches and electrical outlets. If they’re in bizarre or hard-to-reach locations, it’s a sign that very little thought went into the job and they were hastily installed after the wall framing was put in place.

HVAC

The heating, ventilation, and air conditioning of a home are crucial to its indoor climate control, and the comfort level of the people occupying the home.

The dust and debris that are kicked up on a daily basis during a renovation can all get sucked up into the home’s HVAC system, severely impacting its efficiency and hygiene.

To get a gauge on the function and cleanliness of the HVAC system, go to the furnace and check out the blower fan. If it’s got a thick layer of dust on it, then it means the other components of the HVAC system do, too. If this is the case, you’ll definitely need a professional cleaning before you move in.

What to do if you’ve moved into a poorly flipped house

You closed on your dream home and a few days after settling in, you realize that all those newly renovated areas that dazzled you during the showing don’t hold up to a closer inspection.

If you find yourself in this situation, don’t panic. We can help. At McManus Kitchen and Bath, we specialize in correcting botched renovations and delivering high-quality, professional results.

Get started today by scheduling your consultation.

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McManus Kitchen and Bath is a design and build company specializing in kitchen and bath remodels.

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