Remodeling rules to live by

Fancy finishes won't make up for lousy floor plan

The real estate event of the summer
Connect with other top producing agents at Connect SF, Aug 7-11, 2017

One Sunday a while back, I dropped by an open house that had just been remodeled and put on the market. It was a speculative renovation, otherwise known as a "flip." In keeping with the usual modus operandi of such projects, the builder had refitted the modest mid-1960s rancher with shiny granite countertops, gridded plastic windows, glossy prefinished flooring, and so on.

This familiar slate of so-called upgrades, as painfully predictable as it was, wasn't the real problem, though. The builder had also made some heavy-handed changes to the home's original floor plan, evidently hell-bent on pumping it up to the overblown market standards of recent years. And here he made a classic amateur mistake: So busy was he swaddling the place in glitzy finishes that he completely overlooked a number of eye-popping flaws in his "improved" design.

The worst of these was the layout of the entry and living room -- probably the very last pla...