Joe Mazza, the host of HGTV’S new show “Home Inspector Joe,” finally finds a house with very few problems. That is, until the renovation starts.
In the episode “Stone Home Stuck in Time,” Mazza and his go-to designer, Noel Gatts, meet their new client, Marlon, who is hoping to create a family homestead where he, his mother, sister, and brother-in-law can live.
Marlon buys a beautiful $535,000 home in Hopewell Junction, NY—and while it seems at first that the 1970s house is in good shape, Joe is surprised to discover that the patio needs to be completely replaced, which will cost at least $20,000.
Marlon had originally hoped to spend no more than $115,000 on the renovations, but with all the repairs, this project ends up costing $148,500, well over his maximum budget. This is a pricey renovation, but in the end, it’s well worth it.
Read on to find out how Gatts and Gazza update this old house, and meanwhile, take away some tips for rethinking your own future home.
Repurpose midcentury features
When Mazza and Gatts first see the house, they’re happy to find that it’s been well-cared for. One problem remains: The space is seriously dated. It feels a bit like a time capsule.
“So many ’70s materials,” Gatts says, as she steps into the entryway. “Everything that was possibly popular in this era, they just put it here.”
Still, Gatts likes some of the materials that are in place. She keeps the floor tile as is but repurposes the stone planter as a seat, which, she notes, is “so much more useful than faux plant greenery.”
It all goes to show that even an outdated house can have salvageable features. The throwback flooring and new bench help this home retain its midcentury character.
Pull up carpets before moving in
In the main living room, the ’70s theme continues, with wall-to-wall carpet. While Marlon, Mazza, and Gatts agree that the shag is still soft and has held up well, Mazza points out that when buying any house, it’s best to replace carpeting—no matter what condition it’s in.
“You move into a house—get rid of the carpet,” Mazza says. “You don’t know what they did here before you lived here.”
His point? Carpets can harbor mold or allergens.
Mazza and Gatts rip up the carpeting and replace it with more contemporary flooring: pale hardwood, throughout the house. When the renovation is done, Gatts and Mazza are proud of the transformation.
“Remember what the house looked like before? Straight out of ‘The Brady Bunch,'” Mazza says, as she shows Marlon the finished product. This is a good example of how new flooring can give homeowners peace of mind—and a completely fresh look.
Not all paneling is worth saving
While the living room has lots of windows, Gatts notices that the room feels cavelike.
“It’s because of the wood paneling everywhere,” she says.
When Mazza goes to inspect it, he finds that much of the paneling is detaching from the wall, indicating that it isn’t real wood, but a cheap alternative.
“These are just like 4-by-4 sheets that they glued on the wall,” Mazza says. “And over time, it just starts popping, like this.”
While many homeowners would like to keep (and even paint) their home’s midcentury paneling, it’s clear that this particular feature isn’t worth saving. The team removes the dark panels, giving the space a brighter look with fresh, white paint.
While the paneling did give this room texture, the crisp walls make this 1970s home feel timeless.
Make old wallpaper designs feel modern
When Gatts first sees the bathroom, she’s impressed with one surprising feature: the wallpaper. While most designers would simply remove it, she thinks this authentic midcentury look is worth saving.
“We want to showcase this wallpaper—we don’t want to hide it,” she says. “This is in perfect condition.”
But she brightens up the rest of the bathroom, pulling up the red carpet in favor of light hardwood and replacing the dark counters with light marble and a clean, white vanity.
When the bathroom is finished, Marlon and his family love the look. Gatts acknowledges that it was a “bold” move to keep this wallpaper, but she’s glad she did.
“It’s so vibrant, so much fun, and the way we made it work was we brightened other stuff up,” she says.
Watch out for dark spots on your patio
Marlon loves his home’s big rooftop patio, but when Mazza first steps outside, he notices a major problem with the concrete slab.
“You see how it’s dark right here?” Mazza says, pointing to a slight dip in the patio. “This whole area, this is a low point. So, when this was poured, it wasn’t leveled properly, for the water to flow off the patio. So, you’re getting ponding water right here, and it’s compromising this entire concrete slab.”
If the patio isn’t repaired—which would cost at least $20,000—the whole thing could fall apart, he warns. In addition, he notes that the railing is unsafe and in desperate need of an upgrade.
The team gets to work, breaking up the existing concrete and replacing it with a new slab that pitches away from the house, so that rainwater will run down the roof. Mazza then adds a new, sturdy railing made of glass, which accentuates the home’s beautiful view.
While this new patio and railing is certainly an investment, Marlon is happy to move his family into a home that’s structurally safe. This is an important upgrade, which looks great, too.