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Checking for "good bones" when buying

Discussion in 'The Buying & Selling Process' started by JRS, 6th Mar, 2016.

  1. JRS

    JRS Member

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    Ive heard the term checking for "good bones" when buying property. Not quite sure what this is but guessing it may be related to foundation and building frame? Is there a rule of thumb/ rough checklist on what to check for this?

    Thanks
     
  2. Scott No Mates

    Scott No Mates Well-Known Member

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    Ground penetrating radar helps - supposed to find disturbed soil and bones.
     
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  3. wylie

    wylie Moderator Staff Member

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    We've generally bought queenslanders on stumps, so it is fairly easy to check for "good bones". Are the stumps supporting the house? How do things look standing underneath, floors, joists, bearers, any white ant trails, signs of previous white ants (drilled posts), doors open and close easily (don't get stuck), house looks level, windows open and close easily, roof not sagging, VJ gaps not too big, or plaster not cracked?


    Not so easy with a brick on slab I guess, but that isn't our cup of tea.
     
  4. DaveM

    DaveM Adelaide Buyers Agent & KFC Strategist Business Member

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    A house with good bones refers to the property under its current cosmetic state. It might have an ugly rubbish kitchen, and horrible decor, but ahouse with good bones is structually solid and has a good layout, build quality, interior fitting quality and ability to be much better than it is presented.

    As a BA and investor its one of the key things I look for. So many houses I look at seem like wrecks in the photos and this scares many off, but underneath is a good house that needs only a cosmetic reno to bring it back to life
     
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  5. Gockie

    Gockie I'm an ISTP-A female, so I might be a bit quirky! Premium Member

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    +1 DaveM's comment. That's exactly what it means.
     
  6. mcarthur

    mcarthur Well-Known Member

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    Sometime houses have been tarted-up - fresh paint, carpets, etc. - just for sale (surely no one here would do that...:rolleyes:). "Good bones" tries to get beyond the cosmetic and, while there's only a vague definition, probably includes foundations being good for their age, walls straight and level, ceilings not bowed and cornices not crooked/cracked, floors not creaking, subfloor not eaten or damaged too much, wet areas not leaking, no mould, etc. etc.

    Note that for some people on older properties it can simply mean that it won't fall down for a couple of years rental while the D.A. goes through.

    For others it can mean everything is structurally ok to put on another story!

    So the answer depends on who's asking, but generally covers the stuff in the first para.
     
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  7. See Change

    See Change Timing Lord Premium Member

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    Agree with David .

    The layout / flow is key for me . I wouldn't refer to it in terms of structural stability , though that is probably more important.

    Is there a logical flow to the rooms , with out a lot of wasted space ? if you want to change the house , is it easy to do ?

    As pointed out , having something that has good bones but dated appearance is often an opportunity .

    It's often a matter of compromise I wouldn't be interested in a cheapie that didn't flow well , however our current PPOR wasn't perfect in terms of it's layout , though the rooms are all good size . The location / price was the key factor and we can go in and make changes and improve the flow of the house significantly without ( hopefully ) too much cost. The fact that the interior is dated means we don't have any problems ripping out bathrooms and moving them elsewhere etc

    Cliff
     
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  8. SmashedEconomy

    SmashedEconomy Active Member

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    Ive Always heard they do things wonky in SA.

    The bones analogy is like your skeleton. Good bones means the frame supporting the structure has good integrity. It has nothing to do with the finish.
     
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  9. DaveM

    DaveM Adelaide Buyers Agent & KFC Strategist Business Member

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    Im from NSW and it means the same there too :)
     
  10. legallyblonde

    legallyblonde Well-Known Member

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    i agree. nothing to do with appearance or layout. simply means the building including foundations is structurally sound and not going to fall over anytime soon.
     
  11. legallyblonde

    legallyblonde Well-Known Member

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    Additionally, can also refer to a blank canvas!
     
  12. RumpledElf

    RumpledElf Well-Known Member

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    I have pretty low standards with property. I have bought some dodgy ones over the years so I get excited about vertical walls and level floors these days. Both of these things are pretty important though ;)
     
  13. SmashedEconomy

    SmashedEconomy Active Member

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    No it doesnt. It isnt a state based meaning. Good bones means a good frame - if you think it means something else, you are misinformed.
     
  14. Perthguy

    Perthguy Well-Known Member

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    Yes, you can do a visual inspection to check for this. Stand in front of the house and look at the ridge line, if it is nice and level, that's a good sign. If it is sagging, that is an indication there might be issues. Have a look at the eaves, gutters and fascia boards all around the house too. Any of these sagging indicate issues. Also look for large cracks and sagging windows or lintels.

    Inside, look at the ceilings and cornices. If the ceilings are uneven, sagging or have water stains, there could be issues with the roof. If the cornices are nice and level, that's a good sign. If they are sagging or have major cracks, there may be issues with the foundations. This applies to concrete slab and brick construction too. I once inspected a brick and tile house on a concrete slab where one entire corner of the house had subsided. There was obviously an issue with the slab and it looked like it was going to be expensive to fix.

    The other area for close inspection is the floor. If the house has wooden floorboards, check carefully that the floors are level. Uneven floors indicate underlying issues.

    Note that all of the above can be rectified it is just a matter of cost. So if issues show up during the inspection then you can get a builder to give you a quote to repair prior to putting in an offer.

    I disagree. I look for houses that have good bones and it means more than the frame. "The structure has good integrity" is correct but applies to the floor/pad/stumps, frame, roof and roof supports as well.

    Good bones also refers to internal layout. If a house has a terrible layout, it does not have good bones. It might have solid materials in good condition and structural integrity and you can renovate the hell out of it but it will still have a lousy layout. Layout is important when onselling/renting, so once you have to start adding/removing/moving walls, you can't consider the house has "good bones".

    8 Signs Your House Has "Good Bones"
    1. A solid roof and foundation.
    2. Decent quality materials.
    3. Coherent design.
    4. Architectural details.
    5. Flexible layout with good public-private transitions.
    6. A connection to the outside.
    7. Natural light.
    8. The golden mean.

    8 Signs Your House Has "Good Bones"

    >> Rooms should be big, but not too big, and ceilings should be high, but not too high.
    This is something that I didn't mention above- small bedrooms and low ceilings are deal killers for me. You make a house look brand new but if the bedrooms are small and ceilings are low, the value will be less in my area.
     
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  15. DaveM

    DaveM Adelaide Buyers Agent & KFC Strategist Business Member

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    Ok so everyone else is wrong and you are correct.... Roger that.
     
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  16. Waldo

    Waldo Well-Known Member

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    I think thats a little harsh - I mean its something that everyone interprets a little differently. Its not like its a term that defined in a dictionary is it?

    Having said that if you wish to back up your definition with something more than just your opinion, please feel free to do so.
     
  17. Perthguy

    Perthguy Well-Known Member

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    Exactly! If you have a look at the houzz article, that is how it starts out:

    Good bones" might be one of the most overused phrases in real estate. Prospective home buyers and sellers, and their real estate agents, are constantly chattering on about homes' "good bones." But what do they mean?

    In many of those cases, it's nothing more than a vague, catch-all phrase used to describe a house that's solidly built, but needs some work. Great copy if you're selling, but if you're in the market for a home, not that helpful.

    It's a bit like "flow" I guess. People have told me a house has "good flow" or "bad flow", although I imagine the concept of "flow" is more subjective than the concept of "good bones"
     
    Last edited: 14th Mar, 2016
  18. Whitecat

    Whitecat Well-Known Member

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    Layout is really important as expensive to change just as its expensive to fix a termite ridden house or one leaning over
     
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  19. Perthguy

    Perthguy Well-Known Member

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    Good points. I forgot to mention a building and pest inspection. @JRS, you need to include this into your analysis. A house can look fine from a visual inspection but if you are serious about buying it you should really get a building and pest inspection done. It's not good buying a house with 'good bones' only to find out the skeleton (frame) has termites.

    Agree with @Whitecat on layout. I inspected a very solid house 2 weekends ago. Structurally sound, quality materials, very well built but the layout was wrong. I could not actually figure out how the floor plan issues could be resolved.
     
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  20. SmashedEconomy

    SmashedEconomy Active Member

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    Blah blah blah.....unbelievable how puerile this forum is arguing over meanings of words, that in effect are self explanatory. If you cant understand the metaphor "good bones" you must be a new Ozzie struggling with the language.

    Good bones may be overused in the context of real estate listings , simply because RE agents are over using, misinterpreting, or just plain lying about so many things. They tend to call everything as having good bones when in fact they have no clue whatsoever. It stands to reason the public, being as uninformed as they are, then pick up these terms and have no idea what they means, but feel confident in re spouting the same hyperbole.

    Fancy me having to explain simple things like this to you.