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How to Tell If a House Has ‘Good Bones’

Fixer-uppers are a great way to save money when buying a house, but you don’t want to have to reconstruct the entire home. We have all heard the phrase “it has good bones”. This refers to a house being a good canvas that can be updated and changed to fit your style and family. If a home “has good bones”, it is far easier to renovate without having to worry about structural integrity or large projects that have to be done by professionals. There are several indicators to look for to see if a home has “good bones”.  

Solid Framing and Foundation 

The most important “bones” of the house could be argued as the framing and foundation. After all, they are what keeps the house as a solid structure. Foundation and framing troubles are hard to fix, can be expensive to repair, and can cause a headache.  

When considering the framing of a house, you should ask about the materials used in construction since you won’t often be able to visibly see the framing. If the framing of a house you are looking at is wood, you’ll want to look for signs of termites and water damage which should be easily spotted.  

Other materials that are solid for framing are insulated concrete forms and concrete blocks. In addition to the framing materials themselves, polyiso insulation is another tell-tale sign that the home has good bones because polyiso insulation is a premium insulation material. If the home was insulated with a premium insulation material like polyiso insulation, it is a safe bet that quality materials were used for the frame as well.  

As far as the foundation goes, you should be able to visually inspect it. Look for cracks, leveling, erosion, and wear. If the foundation is visually intact, it shouldn’t have many future troubles.  

Good Plumbing and Electrical 

Anything behind the walls is hard to reach in a renovation. Check the plumbing and electrical to make sure that it is up to date and within local code regulations. These are not often things that can be done yourself as they usually require licensed professionals to get behind the walls where you then have to redo the walls. A house with good plumbing and electrical makes an excellent canvas for anything else you want to change.  

HVAC System 

The HVAC system runs throughout the house so problems that arise are not necessarily isolated. HVAC systems are also very expensive to replace, leaving you far less budget to apply to other places in a renovation. Additionally, if the HVAC system hasn’t been working for a while, you run the risk of mold due to too much moisture in stale air. A well-working HVAC system is a good sign of “good bones” in a home.  

Sturdy Roofing and Siding 

Houses that haven’t been well protected from the elements can have other issues like infestations, rotting, water damage, and mold. Ensure that the house has sturdy intact roofing and siding.  

Presence of Steel siding is a good sign because it is secure, durable, and lasts a long time. If the home you are looking at has steel siding it is a big plus.  

When looking at the roof, in addition to looking for damages, inquire about when the roof was installed. Roofs have a limited life cycle, so even though there may not be damage, if it is towards the end of its lifespan, you will want to be cautious. Additionally, keep in mind that every roofing material lasts different amounts of time, so ensure that you are looking at the correct life expectancy for the right type of roof. 

Useable Floor Plan 

One of the hardest things to change on the interior of a home is the floor plan. To change the floor plan, you often have to knock down walls, build others, change locations of plumbing and electrical, and do a whole slew of additional construction work. A home that has a usable floor plan for your family is one that has “good bones”.  


One thing that you cannot renovate in a home at all with any amount of money is the location. So in addition to all of the other things you should look for, you should ensure that the home is in a location that is perfect for your family. Orientation also can’t really be changed so if the house is facing a weird way that would impact your family, you should take that into consideration as well. 

Ready to Buy? 

Now that you are armed with this important information, you are ready to buy. can help. As a veteran-owned and operated company, will help you find homes with good bones at an affordable cost. Contact them today to get started on your search. 

Skylar Ross is a contributor to the Innovative Building Materials blog. He is a content writer for the construction and home improvement industries with an interest in landscaping, outdoor remodeling, and interior design. Skylar is focused on educating homeowners, contractors, and architects on innovative materials and methods of construction that increase property value, improve sustainability, and create a warm and welcoming ambiance.  

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