Is Buying a Fixer-Upper the Right Move for You?

The popularity of DIY (Do-It-Yourself) Projects has exploded, particularly in the last year as we adapt to spending significant time in the home. According to Investopedia, Do-It-Yourself projects boost your home value, and with the right attitude, a little sweat equity and the proper funds, you can list your home for a higher price, enjoying an upgraded home or making your real estate investment profitable.

While many homeowners take on small DIY projects, such as painting an accent wall, adding backsplash or building unique furnishings, it can be financially rewarding to purchase a home below market value with a goal to fix it up and flip it

If you are interested in purchasing your next home or investment property at a good price and bringing up the value by renovating the property, there are several factors to consider when deciding if buying a fixer-upper is right for you, so read on for help in deciding if this is the right time and money investment for you.

Firstly, do you have the capital, passion and spare time to take on a huge project such as buying a fixer-upper and enhancing it? This can be an incredibly worthwhile use of time, but it is not a means of generating passive income. A fixer-upper can be a great way to get into a larger house, or a better neighborhood than you might otherwise be able to get into, but it will require a lot of patience, as well as the aforementioned  qualifications. 

In this project, you will need to have realistic expectations, especially in regard to the budget and timeframe of the project. If you are conducting an overhaul of your entire space, it may be necessary to determine a better environment to live in while your home is undergoing construction. It will be extremely noisy and there may be times where you will not have access to a working kitchen or bathroom. This is especially true if you have small children.

Arguably the most important goal in mind when doing your own renovations is to save money. With that being said, it is crucial to create a budget and stick to it when completing these renovations. Of course, there will be some spaces in your home that you will want to splurge on, such as the bedroom, bathroom or another regularly used room in your home. See our blog on tips to design a luxurious living space.) Otherwise you should be sourcing your materials from affordably priced vendors and sticking to your budget.

In addition to running the numbers for the entire project to ensure you stay within the parameters of your budget, you need to factor in some extra money in case of unexpected repairs or structural issues. You should not pursue a fixer-upper if it would cause you a financial burden. Labor is yet another cost to consider. It is a good idea to get estimates from a few different contractors to see who will give you the best deal. Read here for some tips on how to find a reliable contractor. 

Completing the process of renovating a fixer-upper can be extremely rigorous and time consuming. Be prepared for this to take longer than originally expected due to unforeseen circumstances, especially the less professional help you hired. According to, you will need to conduct a home inspection to determine if your home does require structural improvements, or needs extensive “hidden” repairs such as plumbing, foundation work, wall repairs, etc.) you may want to weigh the pros and cons of those repairs “Hidden” repairs are those that are invisible to the naked eye and therefore, despite their expenses – which are considerable – are rarely worth the price tag as they most often will not raise the value of your home enough to offset the costs of the repairs and the renovations.

Finally, it is highly recommended to hire professionals such as designers and contractors, Here are some takeaways from Meredith Heron of Meredith Heron Design:

  • When renovating your home pack EVERYTHING up or hire people to do so. Put your items into pods or climate controlled storage units. “And for heaven’s sake. MOVE OUT yourself.
  • Do not time renovations to be completed on or near a major event or holiday such as Thanksgiving, Christmas or someone’s Birthday. Chances are it won’t be done by the said date.
  • Don’t try to cut  corners by saving a few dollars. In the end you won’t want to have had to endure hell and then regret your choices.
  • You will need a designer. You will need professionals.
  • Problems will arise. Be prepared to roll with the punches.
  • “This is a team effort. Be a team player.”
  • “Problems are opportunities to re-examine your decisions and choices up until this point. Often they are opportunities. Seize them.”
  • Don’t choose your renovation time to go on a cleanse, give up drinking or go on your diet. You will need all your vices to see you through. Heron does, however, advise taking up yoga or meditation!

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