What Does It Mean for a Home to Have “Good Bones”?

Written by Posted On Sunday, 21 July 2019 04:00
What Does It Mean for a Home to Have “Good Bones”? pixabay.com

“This house has good bones” could potentially sound like something out of a horror movie, to the uninitiated. But the actual meaning has little to nothing to do with spooky skeletons of any kind. It is, in fact, just a handy way for real estate agents and market pundits to discuss a certain type of home that has great potential and a strong foundation, but lacks certain marketable aesthetic qualities.

“Good bones” is an important principle, especially in discussing older homes, and if you are a buyer in search of a home, it pays to be educated on these sorts of things. To that end, this article will attempt to describe the quintessential “good bones” home by listing four frequently associated characteristics.


A Slight Fixer Upper

This is number one, as oftentimes real estate agents will use “good bones” to mean “fixer upper”, since the former has a sunnier connotation (it has “good” right there in term) than the latter. If a home has a solid foundation and good construction but the paint is peeling or the wainscoting is starting to detach, calling this “good bones” indicates that the house’s flaws are only skin deep. With a little renovation, you will be rewarded with a well-built house that looks great to boot.

Interesting, Sturdy Features

Hardwood floors – everybody loves them. Exposed brick walls, captivating trims, and columns –all of these give a home character. They refer to a bygone era, when home construction was slower, more meticulous, and it made use of better materials. When a home has good bones, it’s often because of one or more of these interesting features, which act as selling points.

A Sensible Layout

Is the dining room light-years away from the kitchen? Is the entranceway cramped, the spaces of the various rooms disproportionate to their use, the level of light low in the bedrooms, the bathroom only accessible through the dining room? You get the idea. An incoherent layout is something very difficult to fix. That is why houses with smart, sensible layouts often get the “good bones” seal of approval. It means that the architecture and space were actuated deliberately, by a talented person, with an eye toward liveability. 


ood Plumbing

Plumbing in older homes can be rife with issues, from brittle clay pipes to hazardously leaching lead pipes, and every problem in between. Altogether, these problems can get pretty expensive, which is why, understandably, homebuyers try to avoid them. A house with good bones should have adequate plumbing. Provided that you take care of it, read some spring drain cleaning tips and call in the odd plumber to maintain your pipes, it should continue working well for some years.

Next time someone pitches a home to you as having “good bones” consider the many pros and few cons of what that means. Sure, it will be a bit of a fixer-upper, but you will be left with a well-designed home that has interesting features and reliable plumbing. 


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