Each year, millions of homeowners take on remodeling projects both large and small. Some of these projects are DIY improvements, like painting a room or adding a kitchen backsplash, and others are major construction jobs that often require large crews.
As you can see in the chart below, the most common remodeling projects homeowners take on are kitchens and bathrooms, with around 23 million homes having bathroom and kitchen remodels completed in 2010. While some remodeling projects improve the layout, function, and quality of the home, others simply attempt to mask problems.
These shoddy renovations happen all over the country and in all types of properties: in rental homes and in homes for sale, in large homes and in smaller ones, and in cities and in suburban areas. How can you tell if the house you’re thinking of moving into is a pig with lipstick on? Here are a few signs to look for.
When you walk into a property, it may look beautiful upon a quick inspection. But if a closer inspection of each room reveals laminate countertops that are made to look like granite, textured kitchen wallpaper that’s designed to look like a backsplash, prefab cabinets, and a chandelier that’s made of plastic, the place was constructed with cheap materials.
“One of the biggest mistakes that people make when it comes to home renovation (is that) they try to be cheap when they buy materials. The bottom line is, you’re going to get what you pay for,” Don’t Sweat It host Steve Watson said in an HGTV publication.
Structural, electrical, or plumbing problems
If you notice random wires hang out, dark stains on the walls (indicating leaks), or slanted floors, the people who completed the renovation more than likely took shortcuts. If you can see visual signs of trouble on the outside of the walls, that’s a pretty good indicator that things are in bad shape on the inside of the walls and floors, as well.
Americans spend more than $500 million per year on remodeling projects. Unfortunately, homeowners seeking remodeling work have become a target for some scammers who fail to pull permits and leave work incomplete.
Poor tile work and finishes
Think about all of the people you work with. At your place of employment, there are excellent employees, mediocre employees, and those who just get by, right? Well, just as everyone at your job is not created equal, all contractors and homeowners who DIY are not equally skilled, either.
Last year, The Street found that “70% of Americans prefer the do-it-yourself route when embarking on home improvements with three out of four Americans paying for these home improvements in cash.” With so many homeowners attempting to strap on their tool belts, you could find that one house has perfectly laid tile work and flooring, while another has bowing floors and uneven tile work.
Bad sounds and smells
A home that’s supposed to be renovated from top to bottom should smell clean. If you notice any funny smells, like the scent of cats or cigarette smoke, this may be another sign that the contractor or homeowner took shortcuts. When you walk around, you shouldn’t hear any squeaks or creaks — everything should sound solid. Lastly, if you hear loud road noises from the inside of the home, this could be a sign that the home has cheap windows installed, as opposed to high-efficiency windows of better quality.
“Windows, as with other materials, are rated with an STC [sound transmission class], which indicates how well the window blocks sound waves. A typical double-pane window with 2½-mil, single-strength glass provides an STC rating of about 28 to 32. The higher the STC number, the better the sound control,” reports HGTV.