Learning the Lingo - Fixing Your Terminology

Last year I was fortunate enough to help so many people buy and sell properties that they love and as a realtor that brings me so much joy. But one transaction in particular meant the most to me, and that was when my husband, Andrew, and I purchased our new home. Having been through this process before as a buyer and seller (and obviously many times as a realtor) I knew the list of things I wanted to keep an eye out for when we were searching for the perfect home for us - things like a good office space that we can share, an open kitchen that we can use for functionality as well as to entertain, and of course a spacious yard for our pups to play and for us to gather with guests. Beyond just these features, a home is where many stories are created and told but each home also has a story of it's own and that story was important for me to have a good understanding of before purchasing.


While a pretty face is always nice, I wanted to make sure that the bones of the home were built to last. For some, that may not be as much of a priority. For all, though, it is good to know a distinction that will help you choose what is best for you and that is the difference between new construction and a rehabbed property. Having an understanding of what these terms mean and how they compare helped me choose between the homes that we looked at and the story behind them which is why I want to use the latest edition of Learning the Lingo with Olin to dive into what it is they mean. Unlike some previous posts where there was a more clear right and wrong term to use to represent the same message (primary vs. master and his & hers vs. double) these terms are both neither inherently bad or good - it just depends on what it is that you are looking for. 


Often when browsing properties you will come across the term ‘rehab' in reference to either a specific feature like shelving, a whole room like a kitchen, or even an entire home. Almost always, this means that upgrades have been made to improve functionality or appearance and for those looking for something that looks good but may want to not spend as much money or take as much time then this can be a great option. I like to think of rehab as a facelift to a home where you want to zhuzh up the surface of something but don't want or need to start over completely. Rehab projects often include things like replacing siding, adding/removing walls or redoing a bathroom but once you get into the bones of a home, that's where it goes beyond just rehab.


So what are those bones and what is it called when you move beyond just a facelift? When new construction takes place, you are building from the ground up because you have either completely gotten rid of what was once there or there was nothing there to begin with. Things like foundation, exterior walls, basement, etc. are what I would consider the bones of a home. Updates like new plumbing, electric, ventilation and insulation are common upgrades when leaving the original bones of a quality home. If you have the time, budget and/or desire to start fresh then building a new construction home might give you the most pleasure as a buyer. Otherwise, buying a new property allows you the most up-to-date features you can't necessarily see while having the confidence of a brand new home.


^Same home! And believe it or not, same bones! Just some very well done rehab.


In the case of my home, I knew that it was a 1920's farmhouse but if you drove by on the street or took a peek inside that would not at all be obvious because of the extensive rehab that has taken place before we moved in. A majority of the bones of the home were still intact from when it was originally built but the features and appearance had extreme makeovers which is why we found the place so charming. Whether you're looking for a completely new home with a modern feel, a trendy pad on it's original foundation, a historic property with a vintage feel or anything in between, knowing the differences and similarities between new construction and rehab will prove helpful in grasping the story a home has to tell.