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A Pocket Guide: Buying and Remodeling a Fixer-Upper Home

September 8th, 2022 |

Do you dream of buying a fixer-upper and turning it into a valuable investment? The following article provides tips on buying and remodeling a fixer-upper, from permits to budgets and beyond.

Weigh Benefits and Drawbacks

Before you buy that charming fixer-upper, step back and make a list of pros and cons. Is it the type of project you want to take on? Does the property need cosmetic repairs, such as installing a new carpet or replacing kitchen cabinets? Do you want to invest in adding a garage or replacing a plumbing system?

When you ask these difficult questions, you may decide not to buy a property. But you’ll be prepared when the right fixer-upper comes along.  

Set a Realistic Budget and Timeline

When buying a fixer-upper, a realistic budget and timeline are essential. A budget ensures you will not take on a more complex project than you can pay for. If you take on a project you can afford, you’ll be able to include quality materials and workmanship in the budget. Ensure you include permit fees and a 10 percent cushion for surprise expenses.  

A complex project, such as an entire kitchen remodel, can run into unforeseen delays. An experienced general contractor can develop a realistic timetable for your fixer-upper renovation. 

Invest in Quality Materials  

When renovating a fixer-upper, quality materials are worth the investment. Be willing to pay mid-range or higher for flooring, insulation, or trim materials. Premium quality siding, for example, may cost more upfront, but it usually lasts longer and can save you money on repairs.  

Financing Your Fixer-Upper Remodel

There are several options for financing your fixer-upper. You can probably pay for the property with a conventional home loan if it just needs cosmetic repairs. For more complex projects, you may need a renovation loan, such as an FHA 203(k) renovation loan or a FannieMae Homestyle Renovation Loan. Veterans can apply for VA renovation loans.  

Inspections and Permits

Inspections, permits, and approvals are a fact of life when remodeling a fixer-upper. Multiple home inspections will give you an accurate picture of repairs and upgrades you’ll have to make. Other worthwhile inspections include pest, sewer line, and roof inspections. 

Make sure you research zoning laws and permit requirements, too. Certain renovations may not be allowed or require a special permit in your neighborhood. A general contractor usually takes care of the paperwork for construction permits and approvals.  

Considerations for Rental Property  

If you plan to turn your fixer-upper into a rental property, renovations should appeal to the tastes of a wide range of potential tenants. When choosing paint colors or floor stains, choose classic neutrals rather than trendy or unusual colors. Think durability. Hardwood floors, for example, should be thick enough to tolerate wear and tear and multiple refinishing.   

Hire a Reputable General Contractor

A general contractor will oversee the fixer-upper remodel, set schedules, and ensure work is properly completed. Before hiring a general contractor, check online reviews and get referrals. Ask contractors for photographs of past projects and always check references. 

If you’re a Boston-area property investor, you can depend on the experienced general contracting team at RH Blanchard. Contact us and get a free quote for your fixer-upper remodel.