What You Should Know About Buying a Fixer Upper

Buying a Fixer upper
If you are a handyperson, or simply love old houses, then the idea of buying a fixer-upper home could be very attractive. Fixer-uppers often go for way below market price because of their condition, and you can invest time and money into renovating it exactly as you want. However, buying a fixer-upper is not for the faint of heart. Read our guide to buying a fixer-upper to learn more.

Your Life is Going to Be Disrupted During Renovations

No matter how large or small the renovations are, there is going to be some inconvenience while they are happening. You should also expect the project to take longer than anticipated since supply chain issues and other factors could hinder your renovation’s progress. Consider your lifestyle while you renovate: Are you ready to live in the home while it’s being remodelled? Can you live without things like a bathroom or a fully functioning kitchen while they are being updated? Living in a house under construction could be a dealbreaker if you work from home or have young children.

Know What Projects to Prioritize

The ideal fixer-uppers are those which mostly require cosmetic improvements like paint touchups, drywall repairs, or floor refinishing. However, most fixer-uppers are going to have some large projects like redoing a kitchen or bathroom, creating an extra bedroom, or even adding a complete addition to the home. Knowing what projects need to be done before moving in, as opposed to what can be done while you live there, will make a difference in your quality of life. It is also possible to fold cosmetic improvements into a structural repair, such as installing a skylight while redoing the roof, to kill two birds with one stone.

It’s Very Possible to DIY…

Many parts of renovating a fixer-upper are possible to do on your own. With a bit of research and a lot of hard work, you can learn to do tasks like laying tile or carpet, hanging cabinets, building a deck, replacing windows, and more. If you are not the hands-on type, be prepared to devote considerable time and money to contractors, which could completely wipe out your budget and cause delays.

But Know When to Hire a Pro

While many tasks in renovating a fixer-upper can be done on your own, a professional should always do certain jobs. At the very least, plumbing and electricity should be left to the pros, as messing up those parts can ruin your fixer-upper and cost you a lot of time and money; (and be dangerous!). Be realistic about what you can and cannot do, and don’t be afraid to hire help when necessary.

You’re Going to Go Over Budget

When you create the budget for your fixer-upper, factor in a 10 to 20 percent buffer, and beware of relying on premade budgets since they may not accurately reflect market prices. If you are changing anything structural, ensure that your budget includes a section for permits since those can be expensive.

Delays are Inevitable

Never have an end date when your fixer-upper must be completed. The reality is that you will go over your allotted time, and it helps to have no pressure. Remember to include time for any licenses and permits you may need in your plan because these can sometimes take longer than expected.

Invest in Comfort

You want to fix your house up right the first time, so take the time to plan around beautiful focal points and invest in quality pieces that you want to look at each day. Avoid cutting corners on second-rate materials. Although it may initially help your budget, it could be more costly in the long run if hardware breaks or tools are insufficient for the task. And always order more material than you think you need since it can be challenging to get another gallon of paint exactly the same colour or find a piece of stone or wood that matches the original.

The beauty and challenge of fixer-uppers is that each one is different, and your renovations will depend on your budget, timeline, and lifestyle preferences. With this guide, you can be realistic about whether you are willing to take on a complete fixer-upper.

Originally published on the RE/MAX Canada Blog.

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