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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 intent on investing in real estate, owning a single-family rental property could be rewarding. On the other hand, when figuring out your next investment property, you must know how to identify the signs of a lousily executed renovation. A shoddy renovation can generate ultra-expensive repairs and maintenance costs, detrimentally impacting your overall return on investment.

So, what are the common warning signs of a below-standard renovation? Some of the most obvious warning signs include mediocre workmanship, substandard materials, and incomplete projects. Here, we point out multiple prevailing signs of low-quality renovations so you can expertly avoid them.

Rushed Workmanship

During a property inspection, being watchful for signs of rushed workmanship is relevant. Look out for uneven surfaces, for illustration, wavy walls or flooring with distinguishable slopes, which could convey poor attention to detail during renovations. Misaligned fixtures may point to rushed installation or erroneous measurements. For example, doors that don’t close smoothly or unevenly hung cabinets. In like manner, it’s important to check for inconsistencies in finishing, like gaps in trim or uneven paint application, which can express a rushed completion.

In bathrooms and kitchens, pay careful attention to sloppy grouting and caulking, other than apparent patches or uncorrected errors, which can point to potential issues that were overlooked during the renovation process.

Dangers of Low-Quality Materials

  • Paint and Finishes: Watch for peeling or chipping paint shortly after application. Uneven or streaky paint spells out improper application or low-quality paint. Low-grade finishes will scratch straight off or unveil signs of premature wear.
  • Flooring: Laminate flooring with visible warping or buckling, more particularly near moisture-prone areas like bathrooms or kitchens. Tiles that crack or come loose, exhibiting improper installation or second-class tile quality. Carpets that have uneven seams, fraying edges, or thin padding can be problematic and may call for repair or replacement.
  • Cabinetry and Fixtures: Cabinets made of flimsy materials that feel unstable or reveal obvious signs of sagging. Faucets, handles, or fixtures that rust or corrode right away show poor-quality materials. Countertops that readily scratch, chip, or stain, denoting low-grade surfaces.
  • Doors and Windows: Scrutinize for poorly installed doors or windows that don’t close satisfactorily or let in drafts. Signs of moisture damage around windowsills or door frames spell out poor sealing or installation.
  • Electrical and Plumbing Fixtures: Outlets or switches that are not aligned correctly or reveal sparking signs. Leaky faucets, pipes, or visible water damage on walls due to subpar plumbing work. Hideous 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 call for frequent repairs. The absence of maintenance records for HVAC systems can indicate possible issues.

Cover-Ups and Quick Fixes

Be closely attentive for cover-ups in property renovations. Freshly painted foundations or walls might keep secret structural flaws or cracks. Quick cosmetic upgrades, involving new tiles or paint in specific areas, could mask underlying issues.

Look for inconsistencies or variations in finishes that might explain attempts to conceal issues. Keep your attention on sudden fixes that seem disproportionate to the overall renovation, as they might cover deeper, existing issues.

Inconsistency in Design and Craftsmanship

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

Deviations in craftsmanship quality may be distinctly apparent in finishes, fixtures, or structural elements. Finding out these inadequacies helps assess the overall quality of the renovation and feasible underlying issues that might involve closer examination or revision.

Documentation and Permits

Extensive documentation and valid permits are significant in appraising property renovations. A lack of proper licenses may show that the renovation work was accomplished not following local building codes or regulations. To certify compliance, substantiate the authenticity of renovation details with local authorities.

Proper documentation certifies the legitimacy of upgrades and points out adherence to regulations, protecting against risks related to unpermitted or non-compliant renovations. Reviewing permits and documentation leads to a smoother investment process and lowers the possibility of legal or structural issues henceforward.

Structural Integrity

Closely checking structural elements during property inspections is very important. Clear signs like sagging ceilings, wall cracks, or uneven floors could involve potential structural issues. Any visible manifestations of structural compromise, like these, warrant closer examination by a professional. Figuring out and properly handling structural concerns at the inspection stage helps prevent future pricy repairs and determines a secure investment in the property.

Being attentive to signs of rushed workmanship, cover-ups, inadequate documentation, and structural issues during property evaluations is critical for investors. These indicators characteristically hint at more major problems that might not be truly visible. Being extra attentive during property inspections certifies against investing in a property that might seem fascinating on the surface but harbors underlying issues due to subpar renovations. By prioritizing an extensive evaluation, investors can make more informed and appropriate investment choices in the real estate market.


If you aspire to make wise real estate investments in Douglaston, go no further than RPM Innovation. Our services offer market research and other invaluable resources to aid real estate investors. Please get in touch with us online or call 516-570-9275.


Originally Published on July 22, 2022

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