According to HGTV, there are two types of houses — brand-new builds and aging homes with “good bones.” But aside from being an older home that’s still standing, what exactly does it mean if a house has good bones? And what should you look for if you’re hoping to find a house with a rich history and a bright future?
Here, I outline how you can tell if a house has good bones, once and for all.
Solid foundation, even floors, and non-sloping walls
As best as you can, strip out all the features of each house and look only at its most base component parts. Is the foundation solid, or does it have tell-tale cracks? Worse, is the house leaning like the Tower of Pisa?
If you were to set a marble on the floor, would it roll clear across the room in seconds? That’s not necessarily a deal breaker — and it can be quite common in older houses with some settling — but an inspector should look into what’s causing the floors to sink, swell or tilt.
Wood, wood, wood
Eventually, we may trend away from our current obsession with hardwood floors but for now, homebuyers tend to prefer hardwood over carpet. And houses may get “bonus points” if the hardwood is original to the home. (Similarly, a house may be docked points if the floors are the newer laminate finish that mimics the look of hardwood.)
Of course, sometimes the home’s original hardwood floors have been covered by carpet for years or even decades. And while it will likely need to be refinished, you may also get the benefit of having fewer nicks in the beautiful, original floors. This is a great example of how to look for the “good bones” of a house that may otherwise not be your style.
Of course, it’s not just floors you should look at when inspecting the wood of an older home. Most historic houses have solid wood doors, which help to minimize sound travel between rooms. Newer homes often have “hollow core” doors, which look like real wood but have an interior composed of plastic or cardboard.
Original, beloved details
While you can renovate a house to take on a new style, it’s a real bonus when the original style of the home has been preserved over time. The character of a Victorian house — decorative woodwork, stained glass windows or rich wood used on the main floor — is all the more impressive when it’s original to the house.
And that goes for houses in any era. Homeowners looking at ranch houses may love that the property has the original brick exterior, or a post-and-beam ceiling, while Arts and Crafts homes of the 1920s may come with built-in shelving that adds character to the dining room and bedrooms.
A final word on maintenance and preservation
To be perfectly frank, it’s common for people to talk about all old houses as if they have “good bones,” and once you get attached to a certain style of home, it can be really easy to ignore major issues in favor of the charming details.
Together, we’ll work to ensure that the home you choose has been preserved or updated over the years, making it a safe and solid foundation for you and your family. We’ll be in close communication with inspectors who specialize in older houses, and who can explain everything from the wiring to the condition of the aging window trim. We’ll make sure you find a house with a great backstory — and many more chapters left in it.
P.S. Need help finding a house with good bones and a bright future? I’d love to help. Reach out any time to discuss historic homes and your preferred home styles.