Given that a 10 year-old or so Hermione could mend broken glasses, wouldn't it be very easy for an adult wizard to mend/fix walls/doors/etc... in a building? The principle is the same (restoring things to their unbroken form). For another example, see Dumbledore and Slughorn fixing up a room where Slughorn was pretending to be a chair.

Yet, several times, we see wizarding buildings in poor repair, including those where the owners (e.g. the Weasleys) could not be excused with "they are slobs who don't care" like Gaunts or people in Knockturn Alley would.

  • 3
    Although it could be argued that not all wizards were properly trained, went to Hogwarts, or were of Hermione's skill, the real reason, I suspect is simple -- JKR needed to give a specific color & feel to the areas, and didn't think of this aspect, preferring to model it on muggle reality. Not really a canon answer, tho :)
    – K-H-W
    Jan 7 '12 at 2:19
  • Also, perhaps not everyone wanted their building to be in good condition in order to keep certain people from wanting to enter.
    – Xantec
    Jan 7 '12 at 6:43
  • @Xantec - possible in some cases, but my poster case for when such a state of affairs makes no sense is Weasleys as you can see from the question. Jan 7 '12 at 6:46

Just because it is easy to cast a spell and clean up or make repairs doesn't mean every witch or wizard will have the time, or be motivated to.

Just like Muggles, wizarding families produce the lazy and slovenly. Mundungus Fletcher, for example, is not someone I could see diligently checking his roof to repair broken shingles.

Others, such as Xenophilius Lovegood fall into the category of "eccentric", even by wizarding standards. While that's not to say his house was in disrepair, wouldn't it seem plausible that something as mundane as peeling paint might go unnoticed by him for weeks, if not months?

Still others may have simply chosen "run down" as a stylistic choice. The Blacks, for example, seem to enjoy the "old and dark" aesthetic.

As for the Weasleys, well, they're just busy. With 6 kids (or is it 7?), and Mr. Weasley working hard at the Ministry of Magic, there is only so much time to take care of odds and ends. Even magically assisted chores take time, and chores for a large, active household add up (let's not forget that they don't have a family house elf; that seems reserved for the wealthy wizarding families). Foods that cut themselves up and jump into the pot still take time to cook. Clothes still need to be sorted for washing and mending. Given their focus on "functional and practical" (remember Ron's hand-me-down formal robes), is it any surprise that "intact and working, if a bit banged up" is an acceptable standard for their family home?

  • 3
    For most part this seems plausible, except for Weasleys. Specifically Percy. Being a VERY good student, he would have had capability, being Percy, he'd have had the motivation, and being a student, he'd have had free time to make things neat and fixed up (same for Ginnie and especially Bill). That (Weasley kids) was what really drove me to write the question - the rest of your points are quite sensible, so +1. Jan 7 '12 at 5:49
  • The prohibition on underage magic would have restricted what the children could do.
    – Beofett
    Jan 7 '12 at 13:16
  • 2
    Good point! At least Bill would have been above 17 (and there must have been a period between him turning 17 and him moving to Egypt). And he was IIRC also Prefect/Head Boy personality - e.g. likely to see "fixing mom/dad's house up as something he oughtta do" and skilled and powerful wizard. I'm not sure about whether Charlie would have been the fix-it type though. Jan 7 '12 at 13:25
  • 1
    @DVK Also, don't forget - being a student, they spend most of their time at Hogwarts. Only on the breaks would they even be back home.
    – Izkata
    Apr 1 '12 at 17:37

I'd say that the ease of which things can be mended with magic is dependent on the complexity of the broken object.

  • Hermione is able to fix a pair of broken muggle-glasses before attending Hogwarts.
  • Ron is not able to fix his broken wand (and I suppose Hermione couldn't do it either).
  • Harry is able to mend his wand at the end using the powerful elder-wand.
  • It took some time to repair the portrait of the fat lady when it was damaged.

I think that much stronger magic is needed to fix broken magical things then broken muggle-things. The magical power of the repair-spell might have to be bigger than the magical power of the object. As the Weasleys and Blacks houses are filled with magical things, that might not be that easy to fix, it is not that surprising that some things are left broken.

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