Buying a Fixer-Upper

    It seems like such a good idea and you’re certain it’s something you could do. You’ve watched every episode of shows like Property Brothers, Flip or Flop, Love It or List It, and Rehab Addict, and since you’re in the market for a new home, why not buy a fixer-upper and turn it into your dream home?

    A home in need of renovation can often be the best purchase you’ll ever make. It’s not uncommon to find a structurally sound house in an excellent neighborhood selling for a fraction of its actual value and only in need of cosmetic repairs. But how does one know if there are more significant problems?

    Before looking at any property, find a reputable and independent home inspector. Home inspectors will search for hidden problems you may not notice, like structural or foundational issues. Look for an inspector with membership in a national certifying organization, like the National Association of Certified Home Inspectors, and find someone who’s done at least 1,000 inspections. Shopping for a home inspector you can trust is as important as shopping for a home.

    Some renovations you’ll certainly be able to do yourself, like painting, wallpapering, or plastering small cracks in walls and ceilings. You may even be up for bigger projects, and that DIY spirit could save you a lot of money. At some point, however, you may need to call in the professionals for help with laying a tile or wood floor, installing countertops, electrical rewiring, septic tank replacement, mold removal, or roofing. You also may need permits for some of those remodeling jobs, and all those expenses can start adding up quickly.

    To get a rough idea of what a home remodel will cost, this home renovation cost calculator shows what kind of money you’ll need to transform a fixer-upper into the home of your dreams. The estimated cost of individual projects can be found with this installation cost calculator, which breaks down estimated expenses in your ZIP code by materials, labor, and supplies.

    If the estimated figures seem affordable, then, based on your home inspector’s report,

    • Get written estimates from contractors for every repair you’re not going to make yourself
    • Figure the total material cost for repairs that you’re going to tackle
    • Contact your city’s zoning department and get the total cost of all the permits you’ll need

    Add that up, along with the asking price of the house, and determine if buying your fixer-upper will be an asset or a liability.

    For more in-depth advice, read How to Assess the Real Cost of a Fixer-Upper House, and Nine Things Every Fixer-Upper Home Must Have .

    Finally, don’t forget to take before and after photos, and when all the work is completed, have a big party, and don’t forget to invite us.

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