How to Know If a House Has 'Good Bones'

How to Know If a House Has ‘Good Bones’

In the real estate industry, a house that is said to have “good bones” has positive attributes with the potential to be a great home with some renovations or improvements to certain areas of aesthetics or function. It is a rather subjective phrase and it may be tough to ascertain how to know if a house has “good bones” or what that really means.

From the actual structural integrity of the foundation to the condition of the plumbing pipes, a house with “good bones” is sound and solid, even if it might need some work.

Solid Structure and Foundation

When someone is figuring how to know if a house has “good bones,” the first thing that comes to mind is the physical and structural integrity of the foundation and construction of the property. There are other factors involved in determining the overall strength of your home, but a house cannot be thought of as having “good bones” without a solid foundation built with durable materials and sustainable techniques, other elements are not as effective.

Even the use of the word “bones” suggests the inner construction skeleton of the house, which includes the foundation and framing of the structure. While newer sustainable construction methods like ICF create incredibly solid and tight “bones,” even older wood frame building methods can remain solid and last with great effectiveness for many years.

Aging roof shingles or worn flooring can be replaced or fixed, but the basic infrastructure of the home’s foundation must be in good shape to be called a house with “good bones.” A solid infrastructure and foundation not only makes the home more energy-efficient, but it also allows for easier renovations and remodeling projects to improve the home’s “bones.”

Layout and Floorplan

Good traffic flow and operational functionality of appliances and features can be big factors in determining whether your home has “good bones.” Making wholesale changes in a home is not always physically or financially possible, but some remodeling and renovations can make a difference. Generally speaking a home’s layout and floorplan either has “good bones” or it doesn’t.

Natural Light

Ample natural light that shines through the right window types add so much to the overall enjoyment you can get out of your home. Sunlight in your home changes the look of the room throughout the course of the day, and the right windows and shades can create dynamic and changing looks to various rooms.

Abundant use of natural light can brighten up your home and make it feel airy and bigger. Exposure to sunlight improves the look of your interior and moods of anyone around it. Large transom windows and skylights are ways to maximize the use of natural light throughout the day.


In order to be classified as having “good bones,” a home must have plumbing systems that have a good flow to toilets, showers, and sinks throughout the home. Old pipes and poorly maintained plumbing affect the overall operations and stability of the home.

Plumbing upgrades and improvements will add to the functionality and health of your home and increase the property value for resale purposes.


The quality of the design, construction, and maintenance of your home’s floors are significant indicators of the overall foundational attributes. Flooring can be quite expensive to replace, but if damaged or worn floors can be restored to its original beauty and luster, floors can contribute to the “good bones” of your home.

Well-Proportioned Rooms

Smaller rooms in older homes are often unsuitable for modern life. If possible, walls can be torn down or moved to create large rooms and new spaces. New home designs offer larger rooms with space appropriate door and window types and more open spaces that provide ample areas for personal space and areas for entertaining guests.

Matt Lee is the owner of the Innovative Construction and Building Materials blog and a content writer for the building materials industry. He is focused on helping fellow homeowners, contractors, and architects discover materials and methods of construction that save money, improve energy efficiency, and increase property value.