While searching for my first home last year, I fell in love with one just outside Baton Rouge, LA. It had everything—a yard robust with trees, calmness, and proximity to all my favorite stores.
But there was a catch: The year before, the entire area had been severely flooded—and everything on the market was remodeled, including my dream home.
What’s wrong with that, you ask? Well, outside of watching “This Old House” marathons as a kid, I had no idea how to judge whether those full remodels were just sloppy rush jobs.
And I’m here to tell you: Distinguishing a solid remodel from a poor one is harder than it looks. Your real estate agent can help. Your home inspector can find flaws in major systems like the electrical or the roofing. But making the final decision on the remodel is up to you—and it can be tricky.
That said, after nearly a year of living in my house, I (mostly) love it. But I’ve noticed some small mistakes that drive me a bit crazy.
To help you avoid the same fate, we asked the pros for their best tips. Before you put down an offer, look for these telltale signs.
1. The major systems are in working order
Whether you’re looking for your first home or you’re a seasoned pro, it’s easy to get dazzled by brand-new finishes, flooring, and the smell of new paint.
But take heed: “Sometimes buyers get distracted by the ‘new’ factor and forget about the everyday use factor,” says Darbi McGlone, a Realtor® with Jim Talbot Real Estate, in Baton Rouge.
McGlone says if she’s buying a remodel for herself, she makes sure these three things are in good condition: “Heat and AC, windows, and roof.”
2. The kitchen isn’t disappointing
From daily use to eventual resale, having a great kitchen is key. But kitchens are expensive to remodel—and if the job was DIY, there’s a strong chance that corners were cut.
To make sure you’re getting a good deal, start by examining the cabinetry.
“I’ve seen homes where they only replaced the bottom cabinets and not the top to match,” McGlone says.
Check the wood quality and finish on both the top and bottom of the cabinets. Test the drawers. And make sure the countertop rests firmly against the back wall.
From there, check the backsplash.
“Backsplash tiles that aren’t evenly spaced are due to poor installation—and a…