I bet with a title like, “Ugly Kitchens” you thought I was going to shame kitchens and show you some really bad photos. Well, maybe. But, really, I want to encourage you to look at a house even if it has an ugly kitchen. It could have ugly paint, ugly bathrooms, ugly flooring, and ugly wall paper. But, those are just cosmetic. When you are looking at purchasing a resale home, someone has lived in that home. They may have used and abused the floors, still have the brass light fixtures that you’re not willing to keep until they come back in style, and think that mauve is still an acceptable color for counter tops. But, I encourage you not to stop there.
What have they done to the bones of the house? Have they spent their cosmetic budget on other things that aren’t sexy and don’t get a ton of initial attention? When looking at ugly houses with ugly kitchens, take a deeper look. If these items have been replaced or repaired, you may want to consider it a little more.
Depending on the size of the house, pitch of the roof, and type of materials, a roof can cost approximately anywhere between $4000-$20,000+. If a roof has issues, it can cause leaks. Leaks can go undetected and cause much more damage than you realize. A cosmetically beautiful room could now be filled with mold. Walls, floors, cabinetry, etc. may need to be torn out and may have to be completely redone. If a roof has been replaced, it could save you thousands of dollars that you can then use to beautify that ugly kitchen.
- HVAC units
Nobody wants the HVAC unit to go out in their new house. What if there are multiple units? If all of them were installed at the same time, chances are good that they will all need to be replaced around the same time as well. And while you may think you will just replace one and stay on the other floor of the house, that may get old very quickly when you’re sleeping on the couch or having to fill the house with box fans or space heaters. HVAC units are costly and they aren’t something you can go without for very long. On top of being potentially uncomfortable, if the house is too cold, pipes could freeze. If the house gets too hot, you could have issue with expansion of flooring and walls. The $2500-20,000+ you would spend on HVAC units and the damage they could cause would be better used in replacing those brass fixtures that are everywhere in the house.
- Water heater
Taking showers at the gym or boiling water on the stove won’t be fun for long. Though, they are not a huge expense, they can cause damage if the valve flies off, it leaks, or explodes. There is no estimation of cost of damage because it could be endless. The roughly $1000 to install an inexpensive one could buy some new paint for the walls that look like a baby threw up on them.
This could be one of the most costly repairs there is. A compromised foundation could literally make your house collapse. If there have been foundation issues and they have been completely repaired and/or reinforced with a structural engineer to back it, if that doesn’t scare you away without a second thought, don’t discount the ugly bathrooms. The bathrooms would look much worse sliding down the hill in the backyard.
- Crawl space encapsulation
Crawl spaces are notorious for water. With water comes odor and possibly mold. When crawl spaces are encapsulated properly, any water intrusion is remediated and then the entire space is covered in thick plastic material. Unless there are changes to the landscape, grading, the foundation, or the adjoining properties to cause the flow of water to change, it is unlikely you will have any crawl space water issues. Though you may not think it would be much of an expense, how many people do you know that love to get into damp, tight, dirty, rodent/insect ridden crawl spaces and work for hours? It is not cheap so you may have nice crystal door knobs inside the house but have to spend thousands to remove the water and mold from underneath.
There are other repairs that could fall under this as well. The point is, don’t overlook a house just because it is ugly. If you have the financial ability to do some cosmetic updates, you may decide it’s better to choose the colors, fixtures, etc. that you want and have them done in your style anyway. If you don’t have any extra cash, you don’t need to be buying a house. Every house will cost you money at some point. You may get the money back, but you will spend it initially on something. Mechanicals and necessities aren’t fun to spend money on but they can save thousands in the long run so don’t discount a house that may have an ugly kitchen. Maybe it has a pristine crawl space and you won’t have to worry about that now or later when you go to sell.
Michelle Froedge is a residential Realtor and Principal Broker in the Greater Nashville and Williamson County areas of Tennessee. “Mom” to four-legged fur baby, Tyler, Auntie to Zelamie, she is a vegetarian and sings in her spare time. Michelle has lived in Nashville and Franklin since 1997 and has been selling homes since 2004.