Beware the gut rehab…

The These days it seems like everyone and their brother is buying and flipping houses. What am I talking about, this has been going on for a while now.

I’m pretty sure HGTV is completely responsible for this horrible trend… all that DIY shit everywhere you turn… house hunters, flip this, remake that.. making it look so easy and like you can do an entire renovation in a weekend. Not. True.

It is 100% possible to do a spectacular job on a gut renovation/rehab, and there are lots of people who do spectacular work.. but, there are also lots of people who don’t do a good job; and when you are shopping for a new house, it’s important to be looking at each property in a way that will help you really know what you may be about to buy.

So, what do I see when I walk into a seemingly bright and shiny new place? Well, being the queen of judgement and opinions, I see a lot. And from my background and experience I often see things in a way that others aren’t necessarily sizing up the same space. I recently took a couple to see a house that was a total gut rehab, and I thought it would be a great case study for a space that many people might think is decent ~ maybe even a good job? ~ but that I wouldn’t even consider buying.

I will admit that I expect a lot from every property, but there are worse ways to approach something. And as an architect I value well executed construction and attention to detail, sloppiness in those areas is glaringly obvious to me in any space and a hurdle to overcome, but even with an awareness of that and some consideration and forgiveness, some things I just can’t get over… so let the tour begin.

The first thing that you see when you walk into this house is the living space, which overall looks nice, the fireplace mantle is original ~ win. The floors have been refinished and look nice. Overall, no complaints here, even the ceiling fan is decent, which is saying a lot, it’s so easy to go really wrong in that area.

WOS_living room

Next we move on to the kitchen. At first glance the photos look nice… it’s not until you look a little closer that you begin to see some issues:

WOS_kitchen pic_01

First, yes, all of the kitchen cabinets are from IKEA {I’m not saying everything from IKEA is bad, but do you really have to use the cheapest option??}. I can tell just by looking at them, but if you weren’t sure at first, you can tell here because the owners didn’t bother to take off the sticker from the side of the fridge cabinet. Sigh. Is there a laziness award for renovations? Mainly, from a durability standpoint, any new cabinets will look decent when they are first installed, but these laminate babies from Ikea probably won’t make it five years without looking… worn. out.

Next, nothing worse than unresolved details ~ in this space there are more than a few. First obvious item, the backsplash tile that just comes right out past the cabinets to the end of the counter with nothing finishing it off at the top or the side.

People, has no one heard of trim tile before? Also, glass mosaics are more than on their way out. So just stop that nonsense already.

If you didn’t already notice it by the helpful bubbles above, my next grievance is the unfortunate light fixture, there are a few in this space. If you aren’t a designer, maybe make friends with someone who is, so that they can prevent you from making decisions like this.

WOS_kitchen pic_01

Now look toward the back of the kitchen… see that HUGE gap between the fridge and the upper cabinets. face. palm. Also, because why stop there – the top of that cabinet doesn’t relate to any other element in the kitchen, do you notice how it sits higher than all the rest of the upper cabinets and doesn’t relate to anything else, a window, another door, the opening right next to it into the dining room? Cringe. Align people. ALIGN.

Last {for now}, did you catch a little peek of something under the counter… what is that? Well, it’s a little ridiculous:

WOS_counter trim

WOS_counter and floor trim with notes_small

And when you look that close you also notice the random wood trim just slapped right on top of the floor. Why… why? Not good.

Okay, moving on to the dining room. Aside from totally changing the species and finish of hardwood flooring {I really wish I had a good photo of that, but just use your imagination. And also, don’t ever do that in a space.}, someone thought it was just the best idea ever to put the washer and dryer on the first floor ~ in the dining room. Yes, it might be better than having it in the basement if you can work it in and get it to fit well, but here they literally just built out a closet in the dining room and shoved the washer and dryer in it. No room for anything else, anywhere. Where is anyone supposed to keep all the laundry stuff? And the laundry… Awkward.

WOS_dining room_with notes

Moving upstairs we get to see the weird way they finished the top step with an uncomfortable number of different elements coming together and none of them quite getting resolved. What is even happening here? A lot of indecision and bad execution is what. My guess is that they couldn’t quite decide whether to keep that top step the same length as the others or go all the way to the railing wall so they thought, let’s split the difference and end in the middle-ish ~ superb.

WOS_stair detail

My favorite of all though, is the bathrooms. It seems to be impossible for people to design a really good bathroom these days…what’s with all the oversized square/rectangular tiles anyway, who even came up with that?! Definitely not a designer… sorry, i’m getting distracted. I didn’t think anything could be worse, then I saw this.

WOS_master bath_notes

The only thing I can image someone thinking when deciding to purchase these tubs and actually install them with a straight face is that maybe… maybe they thought that those amazing feats of creation would be appealing because they might be easier to clean than tile? Which does seem to be something that people are weirdly preoccupied with, but no… just no. Or maybe they just got lost in the hardware store and gave up? It might be one of those unsolvable mysteries.. but one thing isn’t a mystery, they are cheap and horrible and I am simultaneously laughing and really offended every time I look at these.

Needless to say we did not put an offer in on this house. In the name of loving where you live, be a critic, expect a certain level of quality. It’s important to understand what you can expect at a certain price point, but also not settle on poor craftsmanship in the name of a quick buck. Anything you find unappealing now will definitely still be unappealing to the new set of buyers when you go to sell your space. So hold out for the good ones! {which is really a pretty good motto for life in general, don’t you think?}

WOS_ikea sticker.jpg


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