Beware When Buying a ‘Completely Remodeled’ Home

Remodeled HomeI stumbled across a marathon recently of a TV show called “First Time Flippers” on the DIY Network. I was mesmerized, and not in a good way.

Fred and Mary (names have been changed to protect the “innocent”) have day jobs and buy a house to flip, lured in by potential profits in excess of $50,000, according to the show. Fred is a truck driver, Mary works in an office.

They have no skills in construction and no experience, but they have some great ideas and want to give it a shot. They don’t plan to live in the house, but want to sell it and make “a pile of money.”

Disclaimer: I have no issue with people flipping houses. But seriously, do you want to be the buyer of a home that was completely remodeled by people with no experience or skills in that department?

I watch the show and find myself yelling, “No! No, NOOOOO!” at the TV when seeing how some things are done due to lack of knowledge or skills. Sometimes they bring in a pro. In the end, the house looks nice enough, and even good in places.

Here is the hypothetical part. Fast-forward a few months or even a year. The tile Fred and Mary laid in the shower (with free labor from their children) is popping loose. There is an issue with the breaker tripping from some extra lights they added without thinking about the load. The seams in the granite don’t look so good or are coming loose.

Any number of things could go wrong. Maybe something more serious like a structural issue from the oh-so-many walls that they opened to modernize the space.

When you are looking at homes that say they have been “completely remodeled,” you’d be smart to ask, “by whom?” Washington state requires that general contractors, including flippers (unless they do 100 percent of the work themselves, which is rare), be licensed, bonded and insured. This is what protects buyers down the road to be able to make a claim for serious issues.

Is buying a flip a bad thing? No, not even close. But knowing if the work was done by a professional or hobbyist, or even amateur, might be important information to consider in the event of trouble in the future.

If you are considering buying that “completely remodeled” home, ask the questions and know what you are buying.