Construction Catastrophes: 5 Epic Homebuilding Fails That Buyers Should Run Away From

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Nobody wants to invest in a home only to realize later that it has about a million and one things wrong with it. And while no home purchase is ever a guaranteed good buy, there are certain, shall we say, clues as to when something might just be very, very wrong.

We spoke with the pros to round up five of the most common #buildingfails that you should watch out for when buying your next home. Not only will spotting them early save you some aggravation later on (and maybe even allow you to negotiate the asking price), but it’ll also help you sniff out any bigger issues that might be at play.

1. Blocked casement windows

There’s nothing quite like sleeping with the windows wide open on a hot summer night—unless, of course, yours don’t open at all. Then what could have been the perfect master bedroom can fast become a sauna.

“I’ve seen this when someone buys a home and then decided to completely gut the whole thing and change the roof design,” says Brett Elron, owner and lead designer of BarterDesign. “They draw out this beautiful new roof but don’t think about how it will actually sit with the current window structure of the home, and you end up with these arches and eaves blocking windows.”

Avoid getting stuck with this house fail by test-opening all the windows on the upper floor, especially if the roof looks (suspiciously) low.

2. Things that go through the roof

Speaking of roofs, there’s nothing quite like the ones that have random things coming in and out—like beams or chimneys installed after the fact.

“Likely an inspector determined the existing structure was unsound and whoever was responsible for the fix felt this would be the quickest and easiest solution,” says Melanie Hartmann, owner and CEO of Creo Home Solutions. “However, again, once you go to resolve this issue, there may be many more that are found.”

Do yourself a favor and don’t buy a home that looks like somebody’s kid put Lincoln Logs through the roof.

3. Doors and stairs that lead to nowhere

“I’ve been in a few homes where there are second-story doors that are literal dead ends, which is very confusing,” says Elron.

“One home that had this was purchased at a foreclosure, and the previous owner was in the process of adding a bonus room over their garage, and ended up running out of money halfway through the project,” he adds. “So of course the only thing left was the door to nowhere.”

Call us boring, but we’d advise sticking only to homes with functional doors and staircases.

4. Misaligned flooring

Although this could just be one person’s itty-bitty renovation faux pas, it might also be the type of thing that drives you crazy later on. (We’re looking at you, Type A buyers.)

“In one house I was working on, 95% of the bathroom tiles were facing one direction and the rest were facing a different direction,” recalls Elron. “I asked the homeowner about this, and the bathroom tiles were put in by the husband and his brother. The husband did the first 95% of the project and then hurt his back, and had to recruit his brother to finish the job—who did so with the tiles facing the other direction.”

Unless you find this kind of thing charming (or have plans to redo the bathroom ASAP), we’d encourage you to find a home where all the tiles face the same way.

5. Obvious plumbing problems

Some plumbing problems are just so painfully wrong, that they really should make you question what else is going on in the house—especially behind the walls and under the floorboards. We’re talking about faucets without sinks, toilet bowls that face the wall—or, our personal favorite, bathtubs and showers you can’t get into.

“Any plumbing issues you should run away from, or make sure to have the proper budget to correct them,” says Hartmann. “They can get out of hand very quickly, and should be assessed and addressed as soon as possible.”

We’d bet your budget (and time) could be spent on better things. If you see a house with these issues, just run.

Article by Larissa Runkle