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Fixer-uppers are back in style. Ask any fan of the HGTV show “Fixer Upper.”
In the housing boom, few homebuyers wanted to bother with renovation projects. New homes and those in move-in condition were the ideal.
That’s still true for many buyers. Maybe most. But other homebuyers are finding that, done correctly, remodeling a fixer-upper can save lots of money. Fixers are getting attention because:
- Home prices are high in many cities, and a fixer-upper may be the only affordable choice, at least in neighborhoods you want.
- Home decorating and improvement TV shows inspire many buyers to turn to remodeling to get the home that’s perfectly suited to them.
- Lovers of period homes always want to lovingly restore old structures.
Fixers with true potential
The wrong remodeling project can become a money pit that strips your bank account right down to the studs.
Here are 15 ways to identify the fixer-uppers worth your time and money:
1. Make cool calculations
Bring a cold analytical eye when shopping for a home to renovate. Put your emotions in the back seat while you assess each home’s possibilities.
2. Love the floor plan
Look for a floor plan you can live with. Moving load-bearing walls is an expensive proposition. SFGate tells how to identify load-bearing walls.
3. Start with the basement
Inspect a home thoroughly, inside and out. Check inside and outside the basement or foundation for exposed wires and pipes, cracks in the foundation or water pooling around the home.
“The biggest problems in a house typically arise as a result of poor stability in the structure or foundation,” contractor Tyson Kunz told Bankrate.
Drainage and foundation repairs are thankless expenses that can run tens of thousands of dollars. To detect foundation trouble, tour the exterior, checking for cracks. If you can slide a quarter sideways into a crack, it’s too big.
[A basement] can provide valuable clues on the quality of construction; condition of the HVAC, plumbing and electrical systems; and how well previous owners have maintained the building. Avoid sagging floor joists or unstable supports, ancient heating and AC systems, leaking water heaters, and electrical panels with loose wires.
4. Inspect the roof
Get a home inspector or trusted roofing specialist to tell you if the home needs a new roof, which costs $20,000 to $40,000 or up. “The investment won’t increase the home’s resale value or your pleasure,” says MSN Real Estate.
Consumer Reports, in an article on assessing fixer-uppers, says:
Runaway water can wreak havoc on any home and a leaky roof is its quickest way in. If the home has an asphalt roof, look for cracked, curled and missing shingles. Gutters, downspouts and leader pipes should also be in place to collect rainwater and channel it away from the house.
5. Scrutinize bathrooms
Bathrooms deserve special attention because leaks cause rot and structural damage.
“Sloppy showers lead to repeated occurrences of water on the floor that seep through into the floor of the bathroom and adjacent rooms,” says HowToManGuide.com.