Jul 20 2020 66189 1

Dated: July 20 2020

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How to Tell if a House Has Good Bones

In real estate jargon, the term “good bones” gets thrown around frequently, which can be a little confusing for those outside the industry, who may take it as some kind of haunted house reference.


All jokes aside, “good bones” is simply a blanket statement for a home that is made with a solid, logical construction, giving it the potential to be a solid investment, as the owner is unlikely to face any annoying issues that will lead to unexpected costs in the future.


Even without a background in real estate, novice home shoppers can identify good bones by delving into the following topics.

Ask About the Foundation and Framing

One of the calling cards of a house with good bones is potential--the potential to turn an average house into a good house, or a good house into a great house. When investors see this potential, it is not difficult to sell your house fast.


As such, any discussion about a home’s bones should start and end with the foundation and framing. As these are the elements on which a home is built, defects in either of these areas will likely limit the size and scope of future renovations, as well as lead to unplanned repairs and elevated HVAC costs.


Some clues that can tip you off that the foundation and/or framing have been compromised include the following:


  • Large, zigzagging cracks that run the length of a wall

  • Doors that get jammed or do not close completely

  • The accumulation of dirt or moisture where the floor and wall meet

Look for Signs of Damaged Plumbing

It is intuitive to think that checking the plumbing would be difficult, as the vast majority of a home’s pipes are either below ground or concealed by the floor or walls.


However, if you know what to look for, there are a number of telltale signs that can give away leaky or damaged pipes. Some clues include:


  • Unexplained lush vegetation somewhere on the property

  • Sections of the floor that are spongy or mushy

  • Sinkholes in the sidewalk, lawn, or driveway


Not only will damaged pipes lead to elevated water lines, but too much moisture could cause the home’s foundation to sink or shift, causing extensive structural damage.

Consider the Home’s Location and Orientation

Where a home is located and which way it is facing are important considerations when evaluating a home’s bones, as homes cannot simply be picked up and moved. 


When looking at location, are there any busy highways or railroads nearby that will cause a disturbance? Is it close to a forest or river that could increase the likelihood of a natural disaster? Is a major commercial center planned a few years down the road that could suddenly put the home in the epicenter of a prime location?


As far as orientation, realize that homes with bedrooms or living rooms with westward-facing windows will become unbearably hot during summer evenings, causing AC costs to increase. In addition, homes that face south will get more solar light and heat than those that face north.

Check on the Condition of the Roof and Siding

Despite being on top of the house, the roof is at the very heart of a home’s bones. A cracked or leaking roof is one of the quickest ways to expedite interior home damage, and considering that many traditional roofing materials degrade in under 20 years, you need to find out if the roof is something that will need to be imminently addressed.


As far as siding, while authentic wood shingles look impressive, they are extremely costly and time-consuming to maintain, needing to be painted or oiled every three years to maintain their protective properties. As such, extra consideration should be given to homes that feature rustic siding made of fiber cement, as not only does this material provide superior insulation and weather resistance, but it is nearly indistinguishable from natural wood.


Corey Tyner is the owner of Phoenix Fast Sell Home Buyers and Arizona Cash Land Buyers. He is one of the top real estate investors in Arizona with over a decade of experience. His work has been featured on Bigger Pockets, Real Estate Agent Magazine, and several other real estate investor publications.


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Jamie Taylor

My name is Jamie Taylor and I am the Owner and Principal Broker of Bluebird Realty here in Central Arkansas, serving all communities from Conway to Hot Springs! I started in the real estate field righ....

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