So you’re hooked on HGTV and think you want a fixer-upper? Not so fast! Reality TV is hardly a reality. Here are some considerations before buying a ‘fixer upper’ and getting a doctorate in Murphy’s Law…
- Don’t fall for the $100,000 ‘magic number’: I can’t tell you how many times I’ve heard selling agents represent “you can beautifully renovate this house for $100,000”. What is your real budget and will the renovation actually cost? Make a list of ALL upgrades. Once walls start getting opened, you’ll find yourself taking the opportunity to do work you may not have planned on from the beginning. It’s certainly practical to do so, but be prepared for the cost. Remember, it’s not just the pretty things that cost money. Materials, labor and ‘extras’ add up fast.
- The Trade Parade: Do you have a group of licensed & insured contractors/subcontractors you know and trust to complete the job to your standards, at a reasonable cost and within the time you want to be ready to move in? Will you need a structural engineer? Demolition, carpentry, electrical, plumbing, HVAC, painting …. Trades often must coordinate with each other. You don’t want to start finding trades from scratch through Angie’s List or other home improvement sites. A ‘jack of all trades’ may get the job done, but not to your liking.
- Big Brother: Are you ready to get building permits, coordinate rough and final inspections and get a final CO? Can you rely on your contractor to do it?
- Common Interest Ownership: If you’re renovating a condominium or co-op, are you prepared to deal with Association Boards, Management Companies, House Rules, restrictions on days and hours work can be done, interfering superintendents and complaining neighbors?
- Are you prepared to pick out all the details? Baseboards, casings, interior doors, flooring, windows, lighting, cabinetry, counters, tiles, stain and paint colors, fixtures, appliances, the list goes on and on and on…. Do you have the time and if not, are you willing to pay for a designer?
- At the end of the day, is it a tear down? Be able to recognize the ugly truth that some homes are just not worth the hassle and it’s more cost effective to walk away.