What's A Frankenhouse And How Can You Fix It?

Buying a home that's been renovated to include unique elements and features can give you a property with personality. However, Realtor reports that too much disjointed renovation can lead to a home layout that's a true monstrosity — deeming the title frankenhouse.

These homes are often the project of multiple owners with varying visions for the property's fuller potential. Alternatively, a single homeowner who can't decide on a consistent style might inadvertently create a frankenhouse all on their own. Realtor notes that many buyers who lack experience in the property market (first-timers, especially) and those with smaller overall budgets are particularly susceptible to purchasing a frankenhouse. Remaining vigilant throughout your search is a crucial step in the right direction when seeking out the perfect home for you and your family if you are a first-time buyer.

Depending on the extent of renovations, making changes to one of these types of homes can be costly, so ensuring that you are either buying a home that you are sure is a good deal — even with the work that you'll want to do — or avoiding these types of properties altogether is crucial.

With these key features in mind, approaching the real estate market with open eyes that can help spot one of these potentially trouble-infused homes is simpler than you may have imagined.

Gaps, uneven flooring, and unusual angular features

Gaps and flooring issues are a common theme among frankenhouses. These properties suffer from disjointed planning and execution of the renovation process — either as a DIY project gone wrong or with the help of a contractor who didn't take the time to press homeowners on a poorly developed plan of action. Gaps are a main feature here because of building materials that often lack uniformity, according to Realtor. Finding flooring inconsistency, gaps in staircases or edges, and funny angles throughout the home can signal larger issues.

Deseret News also notes that planning and execution issues can take the form of room ratio imbalances. Adding a new bedroom is a great renovation option for homeowners with an expanding family. However, if you add a whole second story to the home in order to create three new bedrooms, adding bathroom space to match the expanded demand is a crucial consideration to make.

Matching ratios of room sizes and uses is essential to maintaining a stable harmony in the property, but it's something that homeowners may not identify until it's too late to make adjustments. This is where the expertise of a contractor or architect comes into play. Yet, the involvement of these professionals often marks another key feature of frankenhouses. Homeowners on a threadbare budget often seek to cut corners, drawing up plans on their own or opting to engage in the entire project without any professional help whatsoever (via Deseret News).

An unkempt lawn may be a signal of this unsightly condition

As well as the interior of the home, a disastrous lawn can also be a sign of spooky elements within the home. According to Realtor, unkempt lawns with pronounced oddities in tree placement or branch management, poorly planned bushes or hedges, and other strange landscaping choices impose the same kind of disjointed feeling on the home that interior elements can bring to the table.

Landscaping is just as important as the interior dimensions of a property. Angi estimates that homes with great curb appeal net 7% more in a sale than those lacking this intangible feature, and homeowners who pour money into landscape management can easily see a 100% return on their investment. This makes lawncare both a key feature in promoting healthy property value and as a resource to temper the atmosphere of the home's interior space.

Homes that sport a poorly maintained lawn often signal that the homeowner under-loved the interior of the property as well (although not always, of course). But a home that includes odd landscaping rather than just simple mismanagement should give buyers pause because it can illuminate a larger problem with the entire home.

Stairs, windows, and roofing consistency are telltale signs

Stairs are a big indicator of inconsistency in finishing renovations. According to Realtor, gaps in staircases or individual stairs that feel a little too far apart (or close together) indicate a lack of planning in the construction of the staircase. Contractors rarely make mistakes like this, and so a problem with the stairs is likely a product of shoddy DIY work.

Where there's smoke, there's fire, and a problem in stair construction is just a window into many other problem areas that may very well exist in the home. One of those trouble spots is in the windows themselves. Window cohesion is important for maintaining energy efficiency and safety in the home. Old windows don't protect the heat relationship between interior and exterior air as well as new windows do, but they are also structurally weaker and will not hold up to impact as robustly either. Whether your community is at risk of burglary or tornadoes, strong windowpanes are a crucial feature of any home.

A mix-matching of windows (old and new, or the use of radically different window styles across the property) can indicate that you're standing in a frankenhouse. Angi reports that replacing every window in the home at once isn't strictly necessary, but a standard job should include five to eight of them at a minimum. If the windows don't follow this pattern, it might be best to look elsewhere on the market.

Making adjustments to the floor can help tame the home

The flooring elements should be your first action area if you've inadvertently or purposefully purchased a frankenhouse. These properties can sometimes be acquired for a great bargain, considering the work that needs to be done to bring the floorplan up to scratch. Therefore, it's not always a dealbreaker to walk into a property and discover that it has become a mishmash of themes and style elements through years of incoherent renovations.

Starting with the floor gives you a foundation to build up from. Flooring is one of the most important aspects of a home for those interested in purchasing a property because they function as the core building block for everything else that will populate each room of the house, according to Private Property.

Installing new floors gives you immense control over the atmosphere of the property and will set you on the right path to reimagining the entire home, one step at a time. Flooring options like tile or hardwood floorboards are a favorite for homeowners because they create a luxurious and timeless look throughout the property.

Cohesive lighting ties the energy of the home together

Realtor suggests focusing on the lighting as well as the flooring. Tackling the physical top and bottom of each room's space ties the property together in a way that it's distinctly lacking in the case of a frankenhouse. Coupled with new flooring, a cohesive lighting fixture strategy creates both a color and light palate that draws you in with an inviting and warming sense of calm and comfort.

Lighting is an essential component of any home, of course. Without electric lighting, a modern home is often woefully incapable of supporting the routines of its residents. Yet, a mixed bag of light fixtures, bulb types, and light placements can perhaps be an even worse fate for a homeowner. These noxious incompatibilities take away from the aesthetic of the home and make the space feel chaotic and unappealing. This bleeds out into the ways in which you interact with the home and relax, or don't relax, in the case of a poorly lit property.

Fixing lighting issues will put you quickly on the path to a revamped home that serves your needs and ensures a more cohesive environment, supporting comfort, tranquility, and beautification with ease.