Why You Should Buy A Fixer Upper Home Or Maybe Not

Dated: August 15 2017

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If you're on the market for a home, should you buy a fixer upper? Here's the advice we have. Take it or leave it.

Whether you're handy with a hammer or you love a challenge, buying a fixer upper can be a great opportunity to make a home your own. 

But, renovating an old house can mean living in a construction site for months or even years. And if you're planning on doing some work yourself, be prepared to kiss your free time goodbye. 

So, is buying a fixer upper the right choice for you? Here we explain more about what to expect so you can decide for yourself. 


Is a Fixer Upper Right for You? 

Before you even start looking for a house, you need to consider if you're the kind of person that's suited to taking on a fixer upper. 

Maybe you like the idea of an older home with new amenities. Great, that's a good start. Maybe you love taking on new projects. Perfect. But fixing up an old house is no ordinary project. 

You might have to live in the house while it's being renovated. If the plumbing needs to be replaced that could mean living with no bathroom or kitchen facilities. That kind of stress can put a strain on even the strongest relationships. 

And maybe you love DIY. But do you love it enough to dedicate all your free time to it for the foreseeable future? 

Above all, you have to be a team player with a lot of patience to make a project like this work. 

Work Out a Budget

If you think you have what it takes to fix up an old house then it's time to talk finances.

For many people, buying an older home to fix up can be their only chance to get on the property ladder. But you have to consider that a lot of the money you save on buying a house will be spent on renovations.

There may be ways you can make savings, but it's not usually worth the risk when it comes to your home.

Plan to spend as much as you can afford, and remember to keep some money aside for unexpected costs. Speak to professionals to see if your budget works. 

You should also be realistic about how much work you can do yourself. Some renovations might not be possible if you've only got evenings and weekends to do them.  

Find a Building Inspector

While you're searching for potential houses to view, do your research and find a good home inspector in your area.

Make sure the inspector has experience of working with the kinds of homes you're interested in. And always ask to see references from people he or she has worked for.  

Going with your inspector to see properties you like can teach you a lot about what to look for beyond the disclosures in the building report

Once you have all the facts about how much work needs doing, you and your inspector can then discuss whether the property fits your budget and expectations. 

Make a Plan 

With a better idea of how your budget will work in practice, you can make key decisions about the logistics of the renovation work. 

Firstly you have to decide on your living arrangements. With dust everywhere and whole rooms under construction, staying elsewhere for at least part of the renovations could make things a lot easier.

If that's not possible then make a schedule to ensure that at least part of the house is livable while work is carried out in another part. 

You also need to decide what renovations you're going to do. Keep in mind that there are certain home improvements that you're not legally allowed to do yourself

Think about timescale. Do you have enough time to dedicate to the renovation projects you want to do? Or would it be better for you to pay an expert and take on overtime at work to finance the costs? 

Consult a trusted builder to go through your plan with then make arrangements accordingly. But remember, when it comes to fixer uppers, you have to expect the unexpected!

The Outcome 

If a fixer upper is the right choice for you then you won't be disappointed with the outcome. You'll have a home that perfectly fits your tastes and needs, and for much less than a newer model would have cost. 

That said, the process will be longer and harder than you could ever have imagined, so it's not a decision to be taken lightly. 

Are you looking to buy a home or get advice on real estate? Contact us with any questions you have.  

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Rachel Tiller

I am the team leader for The Prime Team with Keller Williams Realty and have been a Realtor since 2011. Real estate is my passion, whether it is helping people buy, sell, build, or invest. It doesn't ....

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