Posted in: Buying a home

What does it mean for a house to have "good bones”?

What does it mean for a house to have "good bones”?

Key insights:

  • A home with good bones is likely a fixer-upper that needs cosmetic updates.
  • Custom and original features can add interest and value to a home.
  • Regardless of the age of a home, the materials used to build it are important.

When deciding whether to buy a house that requires some attention or a turnkey property, you may have heard people refer to homes as having “good bones.” Generally speaking, a property with good bones is considered to be a fixer-upper home that requires smaller cosmetic updates, rather than a complete renovation.

As you tour homes, be sure to consider and inspect various aspects of the structure and features of the property. Here are some insights you can use to ensure a home has good bones when buying.

Size up the home structure

How a home is built will likely impact how its structure will stand the test of time. Everyday wear and tear along with environmental factors might begin to take a toll on a home, so you’ll want to ensure it was built with the best materials available.

First, investigate the foundation of the home. This aspect of the property is arguably the most important “bone” of the house. Ensuring that there are no cracks in the foundation, no tipping, and no sloping floors is ultra-important. While determining the status of the foundation, also watch for signs of leaking water or damage in the walls, both of which could require significant fixes.

Keep in mind, though, that unless you’re a contractor, you probably don’t have the expertise necessary to identify problems that might exist with the foundation and other parts of the home. That’s why Edina Realty recommends that you have a full home inspection as part of your purchase. A home inspector has the experience and training that allow them to identify less obvious issues and, sometimes, they might even recommend additional inspections by a more specialized expert (like a structural engineer).

Last, you can also look at the original materials used to build a home. For example, be on the lookout for solid hardwood, rather than laminate or linoleum. Wood can typically be restored to its original condition after it begins to appear aged. Synthetic materials, on the other hand, only degrade over time. You’ll also want to take a look at the doors of the home. Solid wood doors minimize sound travel from room to room, whereas hollow core doors do not.

Check for unique features

It’s true that charming features can be added to any house. For example, crown molding has become an increasingly popular addition to new homes over the past decade. However, a home with good bones may have unique details that are original to the house, and to the time period in which it was built.

Whether a property includes the original ornate doorbell in a Victorian home or a built-in wooden window seat in a mid-century modern house, many homeowners love to see a property that has preserved its original character.

Quality materials and modern homes

Keep in mind, not all good bones are original to the home. Some high-quality features are added to the property after smart homeowners use the space and come to understand how it could be used most efficiently. Copper piping, well-placed drains for winter runoff and the addition of a main floor bathroom are all examples of property add-ons that increase the value and functionality of an updated house.

Oftentimes, older homes are said to have good bones because these homes tended to use higher-quality materials when compared to modern or contemporary homes. But, newer homes can have good bones too!

When buying a house, pay special attention to craftsmanship and the materials used. Did the previous owners cut corners by using less expensive materials in flooring, cabinets, doors and even windows? Or, did they invest in the necessary components to create a house that will last?

Top home improvement and renovation projects for homeowners to take on

Do you feel it in your bones?

All in all, the term good bones is often used to describe a fixer-upper property that needs mostly cosmetic updates, rather than a full revamp "from the studs." But, every homebuyer has different standards and individual vantage points.

When it all comes down to it, the perfect house is about more than just the bones of a home — it's also about the property location, how the space will be used and what you're willing to put into the home versus what you hope comes with it.

When you’re ready to begin your home search, reach out to Edina Realty or one of our agents to help you find the house with the right feel and quality.

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