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Renovating a Fixer-Upper: Where to Start

Buying a distressed property or a home that simply needs a little bit of work to get back up to par can be enticing. Homes that need work can be deceptive though, and what looks like a simple two-week process could take you months.

Whether you’re renovating a fixer-upper to live in or flip for profit, knowing where to start can be tricky. Luckily we’re here to help. Use this guide to learn more about buying and renovating a fixer-upper the right way.

Renovating a Fixer-Upper

4 Considerations When Renovating a Fixer-Upper

1. Do Your Homework Before You Buy

A fixer-upper is going to need repairs and upgrades by default. This is true whether you’re planning to flip it or live in it. Those repairs and upgrades shouldn’t come as a surprise when you take possession of the home though.

Here are some tips to help you do your homework before buying:

•   Evaluate the inspection provided by the seller. This can give you a clue as to what is going on with the property before you consider buying it. Your real estate agent may be able to get a copy of the inspection before you even visit a home if you’re looking for fixer-upper properties to flip.

•   Get your own inspection. The provided inspection can provide insight, but if you’re really thinking about buying, you should pay for your own inspection. If the owner won’t agree to it there’s a chance there’s more going on than they initially let on.

•   Visit the property yourself and inspect as much as you can. How’s the roof? What about the driveway? You may not be a professional inspector, but home elements that don’t pass the eye test could become costly upgrades for you when and if you buy.

2. Know Your Budget and Plan for Extra Expenses

Renovating a fixer-upper starts with buying a property. For there, you can make the necessary and desired repairs and upgrades. You’ll need a budget in mind to do all of those things. Here are a few tips to guide you when putting your budget together:

•   Determine how much you can spend on the property itself. Having a figure in mind early can make shopping easier.

•   Figure out what you can afford to spend on repairs. You’ll also want to think about how time making repairs impacts your budget if you’re planning to sell the house when you’re done.

•   Set a total goal that includes the property and renovations. You’ll need to track this number as you go to make sure you don’t end up over-budget.

•   Plan for extra expenses when renovating a fixer-upper. 5% to 10% of your budget is usually recommended, though having more in reserve certainly will not hurt. Even well-vetted homes can come with surprises.

3. Choosing the Right Fixer-Upper

Not all fixer-uppers are equal. Finding the right home can help you maximize your earnings if you plan to sell or spend less time making costly repairs if you want to live in the home. Here are some tips to help you choose the right fixer-upper:

•   Opt for fixer-uppers that need cosmetic work instead of structural repairs. Cosmetic work costs less, but is clearly visible to your potential buyer. Plumbing repairs are essential, but they cost a lot more and lack the wow-factor you need for a high resale price if you’re planning to sell.

•   Consider permit costs if you’re doing major repairs or structural work. These can vary by area, and in some locales, they can be quite costly.

•   Get to know the market if you’re planning to sell. Where a home is situated is not so important if you’re not planning to live there. What does matter is an up market where you can get a high resale price without waiting for months on end.

4. Make the Right Renovation Moves

Figuring out where to get started when renovating a fixer-upper can be confusing. Here are some tips to help you maximize the money you plan to spend on repairs upgrades:

•   Tackle structural issues and major problems with the plumbing or electrical system first. If you’ve taken on a home with these issues you’ll need to get them up to snuff before moving on to cosmetic work.

•   Start in the kitchen and bathroom. These spaces get used a lot and generally need the most work. They are also parts of a home that potential buyers will really notice and evaluate.

•   Update entry area and living room floors. These are commonly-seen spaces that greatly impact your first impression of a home. Hardwood, luxury vinyl materials, stone and tile are all excellent choices depending on the property and budget.

•   Don’t forget about landscaping and curb appeal. If you’re planning to sell the home you just bought these upgrades are essential. Even simple upgrades like planting new flowers and painting exterior window trim can go a long way.

renovation team

DIY or Pay a Pro?

The cost of renovating a fixer-upper can quickly put you over-budget whether you’re buying for your family or you’re trying to spruce up a residential property and get it back on the market. One way to cut down on those costs is to do some of the work yourself.

Of course, not everybody can tackle plumbing tasks, foundation repair and electrical work. In fact, you probably shouldn’t attempt any of those tasks unless you happen to be a professional by trade. That doesn’t mean there’s nothing for you to do.

Design tasks, like choosing new flooring for your kitchen or living are within your reach if you know what you like. You may even be able to do certain work on your home like installing vinyl flooring in your kitchen or small bathroom. This is a relatively simple process compared to installing other types of flooring like hardwood or stone, which do require professional help.

Sit down and determine what renovation projects you can do yourself and which ones you’ll need to hire professionals for before you begin. Doing this will also help you prioritize tasks with your budget and end goals in mind.

Renovating a fixer-upper can be a rewarding process. It might even be fun! In the end, you can save a lot of money on a home you want to live in or maximize profits if you plan to sell. You just need to be smart all the way through the process.

Reach out to our trained representatives today to learn more about building materials and renovation essentials for fixer-uppers. We’re here to help you complete your repairs quickly, efficiently and on budget.

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