So You Bought a Fixer-Upper. Now What?

Property seems to be getting more expensive by the minute, and young people especially are considering “fixer-upper” properties to get on the ladder. While (HG)TV magic makes home renovations look like a snap, it doesn’t have to turn out like The Money Pit. With careful planning, budgeting, and calling in the experts when the project is beyond your DIY skills, you can turn a run-down shell of a house into a delightful welcoming home.


Inspections are a critical part of the home-buying process, but if you’re buying a dilapidated fixer-upper, you may forego the inspection and purchase the property “as-is.” If that’s the case, schedule a home inspection to get an expert assessment of precisely what the property needs to be safe, up-to-code, and suitable for your family. 


Setting your budget and sticking to it is also essential to any home renovation project. It’s easy to get carried away with dreams of slate roofs, Roman marble countertops, and underfloor heating, but you don’t want to blow your budget on one big ticket item and then have to scrimp on the rest. Budgeting also fits with planning your renovations. 


With your list of improvements from your inspector and your budget, you can plan out what projects you need to take care of first, and what can wait. In fact, if you have a tight budget, you may find that some cosmetic projects can wait until you can replenish your home renovation fund.


Even with an unlimited budget, you don’t want to overspend. Check prices, get quotes, figure out if you can complete the project yourself. You can figure out what your priorities are and what you want or need to put more money into and what you can save on. That said, investing in your home not only makes it more comfortable for you and your family, but it also adds resale value. 


Depending on the state of your fixer-upper property, the first projects might be big ones. You need to ensure your home is safe and secure for you and your family. You may need to repair or replace your roof and gutters to keep water out of your home and away from your foundation. You should make sure that all of your doors are sturdy and secure with good locks. And if your property has broken windows or if any of the frames are warped or damaged, you should also invest in new windows to keep your home energy efficient and secure. 


Your home also needs to be functional. Make sure that all of your home systems, including electric, gas, water, plumbing, and HVAC, are working and up-to-code. Unless you’re trained as a plumber or electrician, you’re going to need an expert to help you with any repairs or maintenance.


Finally, you can make aesthetic renovations. If you don’t like the look of your exterior, you can replace the siding or add stone or brick veneer. You can put down new floors or carpets. 

While hardwood is appealing, if you have small children or lots of pets, you may be better off with a more durable laminate option. Modern flooring often looks just as good as traditional hardwood. 

It’s time to choose colors and paint, update your lighting or plumbing fixtures, make your home your own.