Even though I’ve bought and sold numerous fixer-uppers I still do not claim to be an expert. This is because the cost and time factors vary dramatically from one property to the next. The property owner needs to ask themselves critical questions such as: Do you plan to stay in the home for several years? Will your marriage survive a renovation? Are you sure about that?
Big red flags for me with any home renovation which includes partially completed previous attempts at renovation, as depicted in the photo above. Investors frequently walk away from properties with half done projects. Most often when a buyer sees a half done project they will assume that it will often need to be done all over again. However, investors are not as likely to walk away from a property if the work to done may be completed quickly and inexpensively.
In my experience, it costs more and takes more time to renovate older homes. This is especially true when you are trying to maintain period character and details in the home. Updating older homes with new heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) adds true value but the older home may remain uncomfortable and expensive to heat and ventilate without the additional costs of including properly installed insulation as part of your project.
Fixers often come ” as-is ” but that doesn’t mean you should ever buy a home without first bringing your own personal home inspector through the entire property. Local home inspectors who are available for hire will be familiar with homes in that area and will usually be equipped to identify hidden or less-obvious problems. Always know the exact status of what you are buying and be financially prepared to take on any major costs before making any offer.
You must obtain proper permits from your local governing agencies and subsequently make their Building Inspector your partner in the renovation process. City and/or County Building Inspectors can be a pain, but their job is to protect you by ensuring that your contractor’s work meets all local rules, regulations and codes. You don’t want to pay for a contractor’s work which may eventually be rejected by the Inspectors. If you are performing any major work on your home you may expect an Official Inspector to knock on the door sometime during that process. Be prepared.
An overgrown backyard and overall lack of garden upkeep can be a back-breaker to correct. For me, the work required to clear and create a fresh landscape is extremely rewarding and all of that sweat equity really helps keep costs down when that is a factor. If you do not experience this same sense of reward in gardening I recommend that you hire a local landscaping expert to create a professional design for your garden space. Utilizing those professional skill sets should provide you with a beautiful garden planted with lovely specimens, appropriate for your local area, and which complement the space. Great landscaping will add immediate value and provide years of enjoyment to your property.
It’s easy to fall in love with a property that may be begging you bring it back to a good state of life, but remember that not all love affairs end well. I’ve made some property project mistakes (some big ones) But, I always obtain such joy with them that the headaches, heartaches, and inevitable surprises are manageable and are soon forgotten once the project is successfully completed.
So is a fixer a good fit for you?