Little Details Point To Some Big Potential Problems
This past weekend I was working with a first time home buyer couple who were looking at properties in Bowie, Maryland. One of the homes they were interested in was a newly renovated ranch style home near Crain Highway. Though the layout of the house was ideal and the idea of a newly renovated home was very appealing, we came across some disturbing details that made the couple decide to look at other homes. It was obvious that the real estate investor owner of the home had hired a sloppy, unprofessional contractor to renovate the home.
Because of the recent influx of foreclosed and distressed properties available in the current economy, real estate investors have increased activity. This has resulted in many beautifully renovated homes available at very reasonable prices. However, buyers must be careful when choosing a renovated property as not all renovations are completed with the same amount of attention and detail. Read on to learn what types of minor details could indicate much larger problems with the home renovation.
The idea behind this post is to illustrate how no attention to detail can indicate a lack of professional attention to a renovation. Though some of the items listed below are minor and easily correctable, a careful home buyer should explore whether these items are just the tip of the ice berg with larger issues hiding behind the walls, under the roof or in the basement.
One of the smallest details and finishing touches to be completed during a renovation is installing new, clean electrical face plates. Though these plates are very inexpensive (usually under $2.00), the give the newly painted walls a sense of being complete.
Here we see that the contractor misplaced the round light adjustment knob on the left side of this box. He also used an off-white blank to fill in the middle space of a white outlet.
It should be the goal of a seller to present their home with as few handyman projects as possible. Home buyers are not typically looking for additional work after buying a home, unless they are buying the home with the idea of renovating it. Therefore, in a newly “renovated” home, buyer should be able to move in without having to plan a trip to the hardware store to buy a light switch knob.
In addition to missing knobs and mismatched blanks, several other wall plates had noticeable lack of care. As seen in this image, the electrician replaced several wall mounted wall boxes for light switches.
It is obvious from these pictures that in order to replace the electrical box, the electrician had to cut open a hole in the drywall larger than the box itself. After replacing the box, though, the person who repaired the drywall did a very quick and sloppy job filling in the drywall hole. You can see the large rectangular outline of the hole cut open by the electrician.
Inside the old hole outline you can see a poor patch and mud job where the contractor tried to fill in the hole to the size of the electrical box. On the right of the picture you can see that the patch job was too small and there is still a large visible hole in the wall.
Though this investor skimped on the inexpensive wall plates, he or she did spend quite a bit of money installed new, beautiful Brazilian Cherry hardwood floors throughout the main floor of the home. The floors looked fantastic as soon as you entered the home and were definitely a prominent selling feature.
Unfortunately, during the renovations, the floors were not properly protected at at some point someone dragged some large object across them in multiple places leaving long, deep gouge marks in the floor. Because of the brilliant shine of these floors, the gouges were just as apparent and noticeable as the beauty of the floors themselves. This, unlike the wall plates, would not be an easy, quick or cheap repair as the floor boards themselves would have to be removed and new hardwood boards would have to be installed.
On the exterior of this home, the investor had new siding and vinyl wrapping installed. As you can see in this picture, the contractor who installed the vinyl wrap used scrap pieces of vinyl instead of full sheets. Because the scrap pieces were too short, there is a large opening on the side of the window that could potentially allow for a great deal of water penetration.
This picture also depicts a lack of proper caulking around the window trim. This also could result in a tremendous amount of water collecting behind the siding. Once this water has penetrated these protective barriers, it can result in wood rot and eventually damage to the interior of the property.
These issues are superficial signs that can give buyers an indication as to the care and attention given during a renovation. Chances are, if a contractor is willing to skimp and rush through the easier details, they may have also rushed the larger jobs such as plumbing, electrical, roofing and heating and air condition repair or replacement. Regardless, it is always suggested to have a home inspection completely by an independent, licenses home inspector.