Fixer-upper: What You Need to Know About Renovating it


Getting a fixer-upper can be a great investment. A fixer upper has huge potential to grow in value if you know what to do with it. You can get a lot of houses for a low price if you’re willing to take on some extra work to get it in tip top condition. But if you’re a first time fixer upper, it’s easy to feel overwhelmed with the work you now have to do. Don’t worry—it’s not as bad as it seems. If you can follow these couple of pieces of advice, you’ll know exactly what you need to know about renovating a fixer-upper.

Get an Inspection

This should be a step you take before purchasing any home, but it is especially important if you are purchasing a fixer-upper. An inspection will help to identify all of the areas of your home that are not quite right. This can be issues from foundational instability, to gas and water pipe issues, wall deterioration, mold, etc. Having an inspection will let you know what areas of your fixer-upper you need to prioritize. Always make the structural issues of your home your first priority, as you can deal with some aesthetic inconveniences a lot easier than a burst pipe or sliding foundation.

Create a Budget

Come into your renovation plan with a budget. If you don’t, you will be tempted to spend more than you intended. You purchased a fixer-upper for a reason, and that reason was likely to save some money. So don’t blow all of your savings on renovating your fixer upper, or worse, spend more than you would have on a ready-to-live home. Once you have made your budget, and you feel good with your spending limit, then you need to keep yourself to your budget. No matter how much you have set aside for your renovation, there will be areas where you could spend more—do not let yourself overspend! Your wallet will thank you.

Try to DIY as Much as You Can

While not every project in your fixer-upper is going to be something you are qualified to take on without professional help, you can save yourself a ton of money by DIYing every aspect that you can manage. Labor costs money, and you can spend more of your budget on the actual fixtures and renovations in your home. That should always be worth it to you, as the renovations and improvements you do to your home will be what increases the livability and property value of your home, not the labor that gets it done. DIYing your home will also give you a great sense of accomplishment and ownership over your new home that you just don’t get in a ready-to-live home.

Remove Debris

Before you add something, you usually need to demolish what’s getting replaced, so one major step of renovating is to remove debris and trash from your workspace and home. It’s unwise to leave the waste material from your remodel just laying around your home or in a pile outside. A solid investment is to rent a trash hopper while you are in the process of renovating. Self-dumping hoppers increase safety by removing debris from your worksite. Get rid of your debris often, you do not want to be dealing with it unprepared.

Don’t Rush the Process

Fixing up your fixer upper is a process that takes a great deal of time, effort, and patience. Rome wasn’t built in a day, and neither will an old home look like new. Try to enjoy each step of the way. Take progress photos of your home and the renovation projects going on so you can see your progress over time, and take great joy and pride in getting one step closer to your dream home. Renovating a fixer upper can be a lot to deal with, but it is all worth it. Just don’t lose your patience, and stay positive! It may take more time than you expected, but that’s okay.

Be Prepared for Problems

If you are a first time fixer upper, then you may not be fully prepared for things to go off course. But people who have fixed up many homes will tell you that no fixer upper is complete without a little mishap. Maybe something breaks, or you discover a problem you weren’t aware of, or something gets delayed in delivery. Whatever problem befalls your fixer upper project, take a deep breath and stay calm. With a little ingenuity and adaptability, anything can be worked out!

Get the Proper Permits

Despite being the owner of a home, you still need approval from all sorts of sources to do major renovations on your home. Construction permits are required for things like additions, moving walls, updating electrical and plumbing work, and so on. And if you are renovating an apartment, get ready for even more involvement from the property owner. Also do your research and see if your neighbors have filed any complaints about your property in the past, as this can help you identify problem areas without having to discover them fresh for yourself. Ask any contractors you hire how they will handle the permit situation, and what you can expect from that process.

Be Prepared Emotionally

Fixing up an old house into the home of your dreams is going to be an emotional roller coaster. You will likely pour blood, sweat, and tears into your fixer upper by the end, not to mention a large financial investment. If there are lots of other things going on in your life that are already taking an emotional toll, you may want to wait on this until those things are resolved. Renovating a fixer-upper can be a lot like taking on a second job, for most people, so it’s not something to dive into unless you’re ready.

Fixer-uppers are a great way to save money on a house, if you are willing to put in a little extra effort to whip it into perfect shape. Don’t be overwhelmed by the work—follow these pieces of advice and you will be setting yourself up for success. Get ready to love your newly renovated home!

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