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How to Spot a Bad Property Renovation

Large bright room with windows of an ancient villa undergoing renovation. If you’re drawn into investing in real estate, acquiring a single-family rental property could be worth it. But still, when attempting to find your next investment property, you must know how to identify the signs of an improperly executed renovation. A shoddy renovation can cause excessive repairs and maintenance costs, badly impacting your overall return on investment.

So, what are the common marks of a sloppy renovation? Some of the most recognizable marks include low-grade workmanship, substandard materials, and incomplete projects. Here, we examine some of the typical signs of low-quality renovations so you can suitably avoid them.

Rushed Workmanship

During a property inspection, paying close attention to signs of rushed workmanship is critical. Check uneven surfaces, for instance, wavy walls or flooring with blatant slopes, which could indicate poor attention to detail during renovations. Misaligned fixtures may point to rushed installation or wrong measurements. Like, doors that don’t close smoothly or unevenly hung cabinets. Furthermore, it’s beneficial to look out for inconsistencies in finishing such as gaps in trim or uneven paint application, which can show a rushed completion.

In bathrooms and kitchens, focus on checking for sloppy grouting and caulking, consistent with visible patches or uncorrected errors, which can convey potential issues that were overlooked during the renovation process.

Dangers of Low-Quality Materials

  • Paint and Finishes: Identify peeling or chipping paint shortly after application. Uneven or streaky paint signifies improper application or low-quality paint. Low-grade finishes will scratch right off or reflect signs of premature wear.
  • Flooring: Laminate flooring with visible warping or buckling, specifically near moisture-prone areas like bathrooms or kitchens. Tiles that crack or come loose, attesting to improper installation or dreadful tile quality. Carpets that have uneven seams, fraying edges, or thin padding can be problematic and may require repair or replacement.
  • Cabinetry and Fixtures: Cabinets made of flimsy materials that feel unstable or show indications of sagging. Faucets, handles, or fixtures that swiftly rust or corrode imply poor-quality materials. Countertops that readily scratch, chip, or stain, denoting low-grade surfaces.
  • Doors and Windows: Be alert for poorly installed doors or windows that don’t close well or let in drafts. Signs of moisture damage around windowsills or door frames could mean poor sealing or installation.
  • Electrical and Plumbing Fixtures: Outlets or switches that are not aligned correctly or display sparking signs. Leaky faucets, pipes, or visible water damage on walls because of subpar plumbing work. Defective or outdated electrical wiring, evident through flickering lights or tripped circuits.
  • HVAC Systems: Faulty or noisy heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that may ask for frequent repairs. The absence of maintenance records for HVAC systems can indicate possible problems.

Cover-Ups and Quick Fixes

Be conscious of cover-ups in property renovations. Freshly painted foundations or walls might enshroud structural flaws or cracks. Brisk cosmetic upgrades, namely, new tiles or paint in specific areas, could mask underlying complexities.

Look for inconsistencies or variations in finishes that might hint at attempts to cloak issues. Carefully check instantaneous fixes that seem disproportionate to the overall renovation, as they might cover deeper, unsolved issues.

Inconsistency in Design and Craftsmanship

While inspecting a property, pay considerable attention to design inconsistencies and craftsmanship variations. Sudden changes in style or inconsistent quality between areas could indicate a bunch of contractors or a lack of cohesive vision.

Deviations in craftsmanship quality may be noticeable in finishes, fixtures, or structural elements. Having a clue about these disadvantages helps assess the overall quality of the renovation and expected underlying issues that might require closer examination or total correction.

Documentation and Permits

Clear and detailed documentation and valid permits are essential in checking property renovations. A lack of proper licenses may spell out that the renovation work was done without obeying local building codes or regulations. To make sure of compliance, review the authenticity of renovation details with local authorities.

Proper documentation ensures the legitimacy of upgrades and denotes adherence to regulations, fending off risks closely tied to unpermitted or non-compliant renovations. Checking permits and documentation establishes a smoother investment process and effectively reduces the possibility of legal or structural issues at some time in the future.

Structural Integrity

Observing structural elements during property inspections is crucial. Clear signs like sagging ceilings, wall cracks, or uneven floors could insinuate potential structural issues. Any visible indications of structural compromise, including these, warrant closer examination by a professional. Finding and grappling with structural concerns at the inspection stage helps prevent future unreasonable repairs and guarantees a secure investment in the property.

Seeking out signs of rushed workmanship, cover-ups, inadequate documentation, and structural issues during property evaluations is critical for investors. These indicators most commonly hint at more acute problems that might not be directly visible. Being extra attentive during property inspections makes certain against investing in a property that might seem pretty on the surface but harbors underlying issues traceable to subpar renovations. By prioritizing a comprehensive evaluation, investors can make more informed and confident investment choices in the real estate market.


If you are striving to make wise real estate investments in Lewes, look no further than RPM Diamond. Our services offer market research and other practical resources to efficiently aid real estate investors. Please get in touch with us online or call 302-313-7700.


Originally Published on July 22, 2022

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