Common Pitfalls Of Purchasing A Fixer-Upper

Home improvement television is addicting. It can leave you longing for a sledgehammer and a dream home of your own-doing. It is hard for TV to show all the work and effort a renovation requires in their 30-60 minute segment. These shows feature the very best parts, the difference between the beginning and end. But remember this short episode often covers hours, days, or weeks of work skimming past the repetitive and grueling details.

The labor is understated, and so are the actual costs. Purchasing a fixer-upper can certainly save you money, but without proper knowledge you could be left way over your head. These common fixer-upper mistakes can help you make the smart decision for your Home Sweet Home. 

1. Not Figuring Out The Logistics

Whenever you are purchasing a house, it needs done with complete awareness for the state of the home. Even if a fixer-upper is expected to need work, you must know exactly what you will be getting into. Examine every detail, it’s not just the kitchen or living room design that need work. Often more important unseen costs like a leaky roof or foundation will be the priority. Have you considered the storage space? People accumulate belongings over years and require moving storage containers to house their things, will that apply to you?

The age of the home matters, and so does the maintenance completed over the years. If the house was built before 1970, it is likely it has dangerous lead paint in places, or even asbestos in the walls. These are issues that will require major changes, and can’t just be covered with a new coat of paint.

What does a Fixer Upper Really Cost?

A home purchased without renovation in mind has a simple calculation: closing costs, taxes, and the purchase price of the home. It can be more difficult to know what a fixer-upper will cost. Moreover, that final projected cost will usually be less than the actual sum. Remember you are not only buying the property, you are buying the dream home you invision, a cost that would be far greater than your fixer-upper, especially with all the work already done for you.

Decide what is possible within your budget, before you commit to a particular house. Researching all renovation options, even if you will do most of the labor, the costs of parts can add up. Researching will help you get a good idea of what renovations you can perform yourself and what you will need help with. Do not forget the insurance policy on the home, and how places in need of renovation are usually covered under specific policies. Contact a tradition company, so you have sufficient coverage at all times. All of these factors go into the final price of this home.

2. Overloading Themselves With Projects

The majority of those who invest in a fixer-upper have intent to complete most, if not all, of the projects on their own. This is the time to be honest with yourself about your abilities. There are hardly any contractors that do everything a house needs, so why should you expect yourself to fill several different professions? 

Some elements of plumbing or electrical work will need a knowledged service worker’s steady hand and critical eye. You may be able to change a lightswitch cover, but rewiring an entire room takes experience.

Remember as well the amount of time each of these individual projects will last. If a whole wall or siding needs replaced, you will not be able to stay there, nor will you be able to even begin painting in this area. Minor projects can be a good learning experience, but some more complicated jobs will need a team of experienced professionals to get done properly and in a timely manner. If every room needs changed even a group of experienced remodelers will need some time.

3. Not Negotiating the Purchase Price

The price tag on a fixer-upper should be well behind other homes in the same neighborhood that does not need work done. Do not be distracted by a low price, and not negotiate with the seller. The price most homes are put on the market for are inflated. It makes a difference how long the house has been on the market. If it has been sitting, without interested buyers, for a year or more, chances are the owners are open to negotiation.

Even though the home is in need of repair, the owner still wants to make the most out of the deal, possibility to offset costs they have already put into the property. If the whole roof needs replaced, you will have to pay that and should not have to pay extra because of drywall they installed that got ruined.

4. Not Allotting Time For Mistakes

Everything will not go as planned. While you might have an intricate plan with color-coded time-tables, that will not stop the surprises waiting for you within any DIY project. Especially if you discover a hidden issue you didn’t know about in the process.

Mistakes could be part of what holds up construction, but finding hidden damage in the home is the leading cause for renovation schedules to be altered. Be wary of this happening, and always have a few extra weeks planned and a bit of capital tucked away, just in case. 

Obviously try to cut out any of these mistakes before they become a problem. Double check your research before attempting a new job, or even those you only have minor experience with. Don’t perform a job that will get ruined by the next project, save things like flooring and painting for last. Ruining your own work will effectively double the cost and time taken to complete that aspect.

Where Will You Live?

Of course, if a home is in well-enough shape, you can perform the renovations while still living there. However, most fixer-uppers need a good amount of work put into them before they are comfortably inhabitable. Especially if you purchase an older home that was constructed using dangerous materials. These things will need totally removed before you move your family in.

Think of the time of year as well, winter will be hard without insulation, and spring showers will ruin anything if the roof still has holes.

5. Skipping the Home Inspection

Home inspections are more important for fixer-uppers than ready-to-move-in homes. This will tell you what exactly is wrong with the home, so you can move about receiving estimates from various services needed throughout the process. An experienced home inspector will also be able to provide estimates on what costs to expect for the projected repairs.

This can save time later on and leaving surprise damage to a minimum. Sellers should tell you everything that needs to be fixed, but it is not uncommon for hidden large cost problems to be intentionally left out or ‘forgotten’ when discussing the price.

6. Not Knowing Contractor Estimates Beforehand 

The hiring costs of labor relies on your location, so you will have to do local research. Ask several construction companies, or individual contractors for a quote, so you can compare them. You will see a trend in the price, so be sure to do this after the home inspection, so you can see who you need to contact. 

Knowing all of the renovation costs will give you a number to add to the home’s purchase price, so you actually have an idea of what the home will cost altogether. Prices will always vary between projects and contractors. If you have an experienced friend or family member, consider taking them with you to view the home to get an estimate or a judgement of how challenging something is right away.

Summing It Up

Avoid all of these common pitfalls when purchasing a fixer-upper, so you are not left in a financial hole you must dig yourself out of. Often this is why these homes are being sold, because the owner couldn’t make it happen. Research is the best way to get a fair price and prepare for what is to come. If you know the numbers, and are capable of fully preparing for the purchase of a fixer-upper, do not shy away from the idea, your dream home might be right on the horizon.