Buying a Fixer-Upper? Here Are the Top 5 to-Dos


Buying a 'fixer-upper' can be a great--and sometimes the only--way to get on that elusive housing ladder. These are properties that need some TLC; they could be outdated, they could have suffered neglect, they might need their entire interior gutted... but they will be cheap, which is why the housing trend is so popular. These properties can be snapped up for far less than market value by those with a keen eye that can see far beyond the initial grime and grubby wallpaper, that can see past that 70s kitchen and avocado bathroom suite, to the beauty within. 

Or rather, the beauty that can be found once a whole lot of work has been done. 

When you buy your fixer-upper you'll have a big to-do list to make, and some jobs will be more important than others.

This list of the top 5 to-dos should set you on your way: 

Buying a Fixer-Upper? Here Are the Top 5 to-Dos

Hupome Ranch by Turnbull Griffin Haesloop Architects

Make a Plan

Whether you're doing the work yourself or hiring in a professional, planning is essential. You need to know which room you're going to start renovating first, for example. Knowing this means you can buy the right supplies and not waste any money. If you begin with the bathroom, you can visit Modlar's product guide (or On Demand Supplies if you're in the UK) to browse plumbing equipment you may need for the job to start. But you won't need to visit a kitchen supplier or even a carpet installer. You only have to buy what you need for that portion of the job, and that can make budgeting a lot easier too. If possible, do as much work before you move in as you can. This might mean staying with family for a while, but if it means you can move into a pristine new home, in the end, it will all be worth it. Again, planning is essential as you'll know how long the project is expected to take.

Make a Budget 

You will have just spent out a load of money on the purchase of the home. Even if the house was cheaper than it would have been if someone else had done it up, that deposit (10 percent of the property value) and moving costs (they average out at just under $12,000) will still have left a big hole in your bank account. Therefore, it’s essential to create a budget when it comes to your renovations. And not just any old budget; it needs to be a realistic one. If it isn’t, you’ll find that your costs will spiral massively out of control and you’ll be in deep debt, or you’ll have to leave the job half finished for the foreseeable future. Neither of these options will appeal, so take your time to find out the costs of materials and labor, and if you’re doing the work yourself, how much time you’ll have to take out from your job to get it done. 

Buying a Fixer-Upper? Here Are the Top 5 to-Dos

Midcentury Mini by Zach Griffin

Store Your Things 

If there isn’t much to do in your new home – if it’s just a case of some paint on the walls and new carpets – you might manage to move all your things in and work around them. If, however, there is a huge amount to do that possibly includes ripping out the bathroom and kitchen, replacing built in wardrobes, fixing that damp problem, even repairing potentially dangerous roofing, you might prefer to store your precious furniture and possessions in a unit somewhere else. It’s not ideal. We all like to have our things around us, especially when we’re living somewhere new; that sense of familiarity can calm stress considerably. But to keep them safe and secure, storing them may be your best option. Don’t forget to add this cost into your budget. 

Find Good Contractors 

Not everyone is handy around the home, and not everyone has the time to do it themselves. If this is the case then it’s time to search for a good contractor. Recommendations from friends and family are one of the best ways to find someone who will carry out the work that you want to be done, but not everyone knows someone who has had a major renovation, so you may be limited in your options when asking. Online research can be a good alternative; with so many comparisons sites and places to leave reviews, bad contractors really have nowhere to hide if you do enough digging. 

Don’t Be Afraid to Ask for Advice 

Starting a big fixer-upper project can be daunting. Even if you have contractors in place, even if you know where to buy the best materials and supplies, even if your budget and plan perfectly… it can still feel like too big a job. This is where getting advice from those who have been through it all before is all-important. If you don’t have anyone you can talk to face to face, search out an online forum to post your questions and get useful answers. 

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