Oh, the lure of the “fixer upper.”
Homebuyers are often told to search for a home that’s rundown but offered at an exceedingly low price. Given the proper TLC, conventional wisdom allows, the once-humble abode can be worth thousands more once renovations are complete.
But how can you tell the difference between a home that’s a good “fixer upper” candidate and one that will require so much work that it’s better left alone?
It’s not always easy. RisMedia’s Housecall warns that “TLC” is a vague term that can mean anything from a fresh coat of paint to a new foundation. What might seem like a fixer upper could really be a “total rehab.”
“A fixer-upper is a home that is structurally sound and only needs some cosmetic changes to bring it up in value. This can include paint, new carpeting or refinished floors. It can also include non-essentials like updated kitchen cabinets or lighting fixtures – essentially things you can do yourself, if you’re handy, that won’t require a lot of heavy lifting.”
A rehab project, on the other hand, “can include everything from roof replacements to repairing water damage and replacing electrical components.”
RisMedia advises those considering buying a home that needs work to be realistic about the project. “The closer you tread towards the rehab side of the equation, the more risk and potential for expense comes with it (remember that Tom Hanks’ movie The Money Pit?)”
Bottom line: Be sure you know what you’re facing in any given renovation. Hire a professional inspector who can fully inform you of the problems with the property before you commit to the purchase, and consider having your favorite contractor join you during the inspection to determine the financial and physical feasibility of your dream changes.