Good Bones: Things to Look For When Buying a Home
Shopping for a new home (or a new-to-you home) can be at the same time exciting and frustrating. Wandering through house after house, dreaming of your future life in a new space is the fun part, but weighing the must-haves with the nice-to-haves and the absolutely-nots can be tricky.
There are many factors that go into finding the perfect home: location, commute time, school district, neighborhood, noise levels, size, price, and the list goes on and on. Of course, the home’s appearance also plays into making a home-buying decision. It can be easy to get caught up in the outward aesthetics of a home and it can be hard to resist the temptation of new paint or trendy light fixtures. But design styles come and go, and while you may love shiplap and barn doors, they shouldn’t take precedence over a home with good bones.
Finding a home with “good bones” means finding a home that, beneath it all, is architecturally sound. The term can mean different things to different people, but generally speaking, it refers to a home that needs little, if any, structural improvements. Though it typically refers to older homes that have potential, newer homes also need to have good bones to make them a worthy investment.
A home with good bones means looking below the surface. It may not be the sexiest part of home buying, but it will guarantee fewer problems in the years to come. Of course, potential home buyers aren’t expected to traipse through attics or shimmy under crawlspaces — that is best left to the professional home inspectors. Still, it’s a good idea to be educated on what to look out for. Following are some of the top things that define a house with “good bones.”
A Solid Foundation
The base, quite literally, of any good home is its foundation. In the greater Sacramento area, the most common types of foundations are concrete slabs and raised foundations. Quality foundations will be made from sold concrete, often reinforced with steel beams. Cracks, flooding, uneven floors and misaligned doors and windows can mean that the foundation is not up to par.
An Intact Roof
The roof is another important element of a home that should be considered during the home shopping process. While most home sales include a certification deeming that a home’s roof is free of defects, they still need careful consideration. Roof shingles can be made from wood, clay, metal and asphalt, but by far the most durable are slate. They are fireproof, waterproof and are expected to last at least 100 years or more. Signs of roof damage include warped or cracked shingles, water damage, mold or mildew, and stains or discoloration.
The Use of Quality Materials
“Good bones” also refers to the materials that go into building a house. The best examples of this are in historic homes, which were often constructed with high-end lumber, precision craftsmanship and architectural details like built-in cabinetry, stairways, crown molding and fireplaces. They also typically have higher-end window frames, solid doors and real wood cupboards. Even lath-and-plaster walls are considered superior, as they provide improved insulation and soundproofing.
A Well-Thought Out Floorplan
A home with good bones will also be well designed. Good design goes beyond the trends of the day and instead considers long-term needs of those who live there. While this may mean different things to different people, in general, a floorplan shouldn’t feel like a “plan” at all. Rather, you should be able to flow from room to room without a second thought. Rooms with related functions should tie together seamlessly; for example, a dining room and kitchen, or a bedroom and bathroom.
Other Home Systems
A home’s major systems, such as electrical, plumbing and HVAC, are also essential to consider when buying a home. However, when it comes to older homes, these systems may need to be upgraded. And we’re not talking just replacing an outdated toilet or old light switch. Redoing these internal systems are major projects, although they aren’t as complicated as, say, rebuilding a home’s foundation or re-framing a room. Nonetheless, their condition should be considered when purchasing a home.