Avoiding “Remuddles” Will Preserve Your Home’s Value

I recently surveyed this home in a nice leafy area of the city, very close to Jenkintown.

Like many homes in Philadelphia, you can see this house has great bones. This center-hall Colonial was built in the 1910s of great materials and craftsmanship. This is one of the most efficient floor plans of homes you can find.

This house is in foreclosure. The previous owner, or a house-flipper, gained ownership of the house, only to lose it to the bank. The previous owners made some very bad “repairs” to the house that will diminish its resale value. We call these “remuddles” because they are mistakes that will either cause damage to the home itself, or they will have to be redone or removed because they look so bad and negatively affect the home’s value.

Remuddles should be avoided always. They are a waste of your money and usually result from not spending the proper amount of money on a renovation or from hiring someone who does not know how to work on an older home.

The wrong type of stucco was used to “repair” this house. This is a smooth, modern-styled stucco. The original would have been a washed-out stucco with a rough texture from exposed aggregate. The original would be a tawny tan or gray color, not white.

The trim on the Porte-cochere, or carriage entrance, was “repaired” using plywood as trim instead of proper clear mahogany or PVC. We don’t use pine anymore for this kind of trim because it’s so prone to rot. We can no longer buy clear, old-growth redwood either. Many other areas of trim are installed in a terrible manner.

The new brick patio is just wrong, and it seems to be causing water damage to the house. These homes will typically have a slate or blue stone patio.

Finally, there is a horrible two-story deck at the rear causing damage to the house, and creating dark shadows inside the first floor. The posts for the deck create a forest of obstructions.

I have included a couple of images to highlight the high quality of this home. To buy this home and fix it up properly will cost a lot of money. But it’s still so much cheaper than a new build, and much better quality.

You can see a stick down parquet floor was installed in the dining room, even though the original old growth fir floors are in beautiful condition. Tacky in so many ways!

You can see air conditioners were put into the massive thick masonry walls. What a look! A house like this needs little air conditioning. Typically, you can open a third- or fourth-floor window and get great cooling air jetting from the basement in summers. If you must have AC in this type of home, the best way to go is high velocity. Yes, it is more expensive.

Much of the plumbing in this house is galvanized. It needs to be replaced. Typically, the galvanized plumbing corrodes from the inside, reducing water pressure.
The 40- to 50-year-old kitchen and five bathrooms are all in nice condition. I wouldn’t touch them, except for cosmetics like paint, counters and new floor in the kitchen.

This house was built with great materials and craftsmanship. Thirty or 40 years ago, the home’s owners spent wisely on their kitchen and baths, so they continue to bring value to the home. But then in the last few years, some remuddler caused some real problems that now need to be fixed.