The First Timer’s Guide to Fixing Up a Fixer-Upper

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Buying a fixer-upper can be both a thrilling and frightening endeavor if you have never done it before. A fixer-upper is a house that you know will require extra work to make it livable, so you buy it for a reduced price knowing you will have to put some extra money into it. Houses are determined to be fixer-uppers for a variety of reasons. Essentially, if the house needs a lot of work, the seller may decide that taking a financial loss is worth avoiding the time and aggravation of fixing up the property to sell at market value. Here are some things to consider when buying a fixer-upper.

Understand the basics of home construction

Having a basic understanding of homes and their construction will help tremendously in finding a property that is going to be a profitable fixer-upper. In some cases, the problems with the property are purely cosmetic. Cosmetic issues include cleaning out the property, getting new flooring, and installing new cabinets, fixtures, and paint. For houses that have been empty for a long time or were occupied by hoarders, the cleanout needs can be severe.

Be ready for potential big-ticket expenses

Although cosmetic problems can be significant, they generally entail a great deal of work as opposed to money. Non-cosmetic problems include big-ticket expenses like the roof, windows, foundation, plumbing, electricity, or HVAC. Knowing what big-ticket expenses will be involved before buying the property is vital. It is the big-ticket items that can turn a great investment opportunity into a money-pit.

Take detailed notes during your walk through

When you first buy the property, do a walk through and make a list of everything that will need to be done. From that list, you can create a priority list with the order everything will need to be done in. Making a list will take what may seem overwhelming and break it down into steps that make it feel less intimidating.

Have pests and unwanted animals are removed from the property

If there are animals in the house, the first step you will want to take is contracting an animal removal service. Removing all animals will ensure you are safe as you start working on the property. It will also give you the peace of mind that nothing is going to jump out at you as you work. Animals often make their way into empty houses and buildings to nest and find protection from the elements.

Prepare for demolition and remodeling

Once all animals are removed, garbage removal and demolition will likely come next. You can save money by renting one large dumpster and getting all the refuge out at once, as opposed to renting two smaller dumpsters a few weeks apart. While demolition is often the fun part, what comes next is the fascinating part. After you clear out and demolition everything that you want to see go, you get to start rebuilding and remodeling to turn the property into your dream home. As soon as all the trash is cleared out, you can have the contractors come in and provide estimates for their work. Based on these estimates, you can decide how much you want to get done, do yourself, or contract out.

Clean and prepare to move in

After the remodeling, you need to clean the entire house top to bottom. While you may have new flooring and new paint, making everything look and feel fresh, construction produces a lot of dust and debris. Cleaning the house ensures you and your family aren’t breathing in the dust for weeks afterward. You can hire a cleaning company to come in and ensure it is done right and quickly.

If you still have room in your budget, you can even bring in a professional to do detailed window cleaning before you move in. Window cleaning is an essential step because it directly impacts the natural light that enters the home, as well as helps to control the temperature of the house. Crystal clean windows will provide a clean and fresh feeling to the entire home. Professional cleaners can provide a streak-free shine that is hard to accomplish on your own.


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