Skip to Content

How to Spot a Bad Property Renovation

Large bright room with windows of an ancient villa undergoing renovation. If you’re enthusiastic about getting into investing in real estate, procuring a single-family rental property could be useful. With that said, when inquiring about your next investment property, you must look out for signs of a defectively executed renovation. A shoddy renovation can bring on uneconomical repairs and maintenance costs, unfavorably impacting your overall return on investment.

So, what are the common signals for a second-rate renovation? Some of the most apparent signs include wretched workmanship, substandard materials, and incomplete projects. Here, we go through some of the typical signs of low-quality renovations so you can avoid them.

Rushed Workmanship

During a property inspection, carefully looking for signs of rushed workmanship is integral. Find uneven surfaces, like wavy walls or flooring with perceptible slopes, which could signify poor attention to detail during renovations. Misaligned fixtures may point to rushed installation or erroneous measurements. As an illustration, doors that don’t close smoothly or unevenly hung cabinets. Particularly, it’s critical to ascertain inconsistencies in finishing, by way of illustration, gaps in trim or uneven paint application, which can indicate a rushed completion.

In bathrooms and kitchens, consider carefully checking messy grouting and caulking, in addition to prominent patches or uncorrected errors, which can unveil potential issues that were overlooked during the renovation period.

Dangers of Low-Quality Materials

  • Paint and Finishes: Be alert for peeling or chipping paint shortly after application. Uneven or streaky paint points out improper application or low-quality paint. Low-grade finishes will scratch abruptly or manifest signs of premature wear.
  • Flooring: Laminate flooring with visible warping or buckling, most importantly near moisture-prone areas by way of illustration bathrooms or kitchens. Tiles that crack or come loose, point to improper installation or second-rate tile quality. Carpets that have uneven seams, fraying edges, or thin padding can be problematic and may demand repair or replacement.
  • Cabinetry and Fixtures: Cabinets made of flimsy materials that feel unstable or look for signs of sagging. Faucets, handles, or fixtures that immediately rust or corrode signify poor-quality materials. Countertops that hastily scratch, chip, or stain, revealing low-grade surfaces.
  • Doors and Windows: Look out for poorly installed doors or windows that don’t close excellently or let in drafts. Signs of moisture damage around windowsills or door frames imply poor sealing or installation.
  • Electrical and Plumbing Fixtures: Outlets or switches that are not aligned correctly or illustrate sparking signs. Leaky faucets, pipes, or visible water damage on walls owing to subpar plumbing work. Lousy or outdated electrical wiring, evident through flickering lights or tripped circuits.
  • HVAC Systems: Ineffectual or noisy heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems that may compel frequent repairs. The absence of maintenance records for HVAC systems can indicate possible dilemmas.

Cover-Ups and Quick Fixes

Be attentive for cover-ups in property renovations. Freshly painted foundations or walls might disguise structural flaws or cracks. Quick cosmetic upgrades, for example, new tiles or paint in specific areas, could mask underlying troubles.

Look for inconsistencies or variations in finishes that might denote attempts to keep secret issues. Be watchful of abrupt fixes that seem unequal to the overall renovation, as they might cover deeper, unsettled issues.

Inconsistency in Design and Craftsmanship

While inspecting a property, pay attention to design inconsistencies and craftsmanship variations. Sudden changes in style or inconsistent quality between areas could indicate a number of contractors or a lack of cohesive vision.

Deviations in craftsmanship quality may be blatant in finishes, fixtures, or structural elements. Perceiving these infirmities helps assess the overall quality of the renovation and potential underlying issues that might need closer examination or rectification.

Documentation and Permits

Total documentation and valid permits are key in weighing property renovations. A lack of proper licenses may specify that the renovation work was transacted without submission to local building codes or regulations. To determine compliance, investigate the authenticity of renovation details with local authorities.

Proper documentation determines the legitimacy of upgrades and shows adherence to regulations, preserving against risks due to unpermitted or non-compliant renovations. Investigating permits and documentation assures a smoother investment process and lessens the possibility of legal or structural issues subsequently.

Structural Integrity

Carefully considering structural elements during property inspections is central. Indicators like sagging ceilings, wall cracks, or uneven floors could show potential structural issues. Any visible forewarnings of structural compromise, such as these, warrant closer examination by a professional. Recognizing and facing structural concerns at the inspection stage helps prevent future uneconomical repairs and sees to a secure investment in the property.

Coming across signs of rushed workmanship, cover-ups, inadequate documentation, and structural issues during property evaluations is necessary for investors. These indicators may, at times, hint at more grave problems that might not be exactly visible. Being watchful during property inspections ensures against investing in a property that might seem fine on the surface but harbors underlying issues owing to the fact of subpar renovations. By prioritizing a careful and thorough evaluation, investors can make more informed and excellent investment choices in the real estate market.


If you like to make wise real estate investments in Oakland, look no further than RPM Masters. Our services offer market research and other practical resources to help real estate investors. Please get in touch with us online or call 510-398-8704.

We are pledged to the letter and spirit of U.S. policy for the achievement of equal housing opportunity throughout the Nation. See Equal Housing Opportunity Statement for more information.

The Neighborly Done Right Promise

The Neighborly Done Right Promise ® delivered by Real Property Management, a proud Neighborly company

When it comes to finding the right property manager for your investment property, you want to know that they stand behind their work and get the job done right – the first time. At Real Property Management we have the expertise, technology, and systems to manage your property the right way. We work hard to optimize your return on investment while preserving your asset and giving you peace of mind. Our highly trained and skilled team works hard so you can be sure your property's management will be Done Right.

Canada excluded. Services performed by independently owned and operated franchises.

See Full Details