Is your Chicago Home Updated, Remodeled, Rehabbed or a Gut Rehab?

Real Estate Agent

So many terms with various definitions but I find that these definitions need to clear the air because there is so much misleading when a home is marketed as a "Chicago Rehabbed Home" when all it was, in total actuality, an remodeled home.

A Chicago Updated Home:  is defined as one that has had recent painting, the orange or olive green carpeting removed and GFI's installed in the bathroom and kitchen areas.

A Chicago Remodeled Home:  is defined as one that has has newer bath fixtures, some windows replaced, painting, and all of the above in the "Chicago Updated Home" section.

Barb Van Stensel Keller Williams



A Chicago Rehabbed home:  is defined as taking out the old kitchen, putting in a new kitchen, a lot of new drywall, electrical replaced but maybe not in it's entirety, recessed cans added.

Can be the addition of a fireplace, a new deck, new windows, all new trim, new or existing hardwood floors.

Upgraded electrical service generally with new 100 or 200 Amp Service Box.

Generally a sump pump and ejector pump added.

New efficiency furnace and central air conditioning.

New copper plumbing throughout but may or may not include a new line from the City water line to the "B" box.

Definitely new siding or tuck pointed brick work.

Two car garage, either rebuilt or restored with new siding and new roof.

New doors throughout with all new hardware.






So, what is a gut rehab?  That is when you take an existing home, and take everything out of that home.  A total gut rehabbed home is pretty close to and can cross over the line into a "Chicago Reconstruction Home", which is a newer term that the City of Chicago has been using in the later years where the existing structure just isn't sufficient or safe enough to retain and so the same footprint of the existing home is recreated by tearing everything down to the foundation and rebuilding that home. Everything is new should include new drain lines, water service, on top of generally what is included into a new home. 

It is rare but it does happen at times.  A gut rehab to me is also about putting in new floor joists.  One of my biggest pet peeves is bouncing floors and that is because of two factors:  The placement and the size of those floor joists.  Most older style frame houses have the old 2 x 6 floor joists in them, even on the second floor.  it was okay for the housing industry back in the early 1900's because there wasn't a lot of furniture on the second floor let along massive bathrooms and laundry rooms on the second floor.  So, a good gut rehab means that there is serious thought into those floors as my brother, who had five children, gave me instructions early on when we built his home in Michigan was to find a way to minimize that second floor from bouncing and he didn't want to be able to hear his children running around downstairs when he and his wife were entertaining.  He still wanted his children to have a life but also wanted that privacy.  I loved that idea and so, while most rehabbers or reconstruction builders do not think about this, it is critical for structural strength and peace of mind.

The secret:  is putting the floor joists at 12"OC and instead of having 11-7/8 x 2.5" x 20' or 22', you have 11-7/8 x 3.25" x 20' or 22'.  Huge, huge difference.  the other thing is that I spray a soy bean bio base foam insulator into the first floor ceiling to create a sound barrier between the first and second floors.  The other secret is to install solid plywood x 2 layers with carpet or solid plywood with hardwood floors.

Barb Van Stensel


Another secret and an ever exhausting nag that most homeowners do not understand is that I always suggest using cedar for the porches as it holds the longest and wont' rot so fast.  The savings?  About the cost of another rebuilt porch.

I also suggest using cedar for the posts in the ground for the fences for the same reason.

There is a huge difference in an Updated Chicago Home to a Gut Rehabbed Chicago Home.


What improvements you make will also make a difference upon the resale of your home but also the design.


Stay tuned as I will also being talking about "Curable Functional Obsolescence in Chicago Homes".


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