February 16, 2021

November 16, 2021

What to Know Before Buying a Fixer-Upper

Buying a fixer-upper home can be a wise investment. Before you make the call, though, make sure you're familiar with these nine things.

While some people dream of finding the perfect home, others dream of finding one that needs a little TLC, and turning it into the exact home they want. Buying a fixer-upper can be an exciting project and incredibly rewarding. Before you take the leap, though, be sure you understand what you're getting into. Here are nine things to think about first.

9 Things to Consider Before You Buy a Fixer-Upper

1. Plan to Spend More Than You Think You'll Need To

This is a smart rule of thumb for anyone buying a house, whether it's a fixer-upper or not.

The costs often add up faster than we're expecting them to. Instead of being caught off-guard and ending up stressed about the expenses, allocate more money than you think you'll need.

That way, you're always covered.

2. Find the Loan Option That Meets Your Needs

You have options, here, so consider them all before you make a decision.

You already know that buying a fixer-upper can end up costing a lot of money — possibly even more than you projected. Financing matters. Some home renovation mortgages will let you roll the costs of remodeling into the loan amount. Two examples of this are Fannie Mae's HomeStyle Loan and Freddie Mac's CHOICERenovation Mortgage.

Outside of this type of mortgage, you might also consider taking out a home equity loan or a line of credit on a personal loan. This probably goes without saying, but in addition to doing your own research, talk to a professional about what will be the most appropriate option for you.

3. Be Realistic About What You Can Do...

... and likewise, when you should hire a pro to handle it.

Some people are excited to dive in with DIY projects, and that's excellent! Without a doubt, there are certain aspects of home remodeling that you can manage yourself — like laying tile, creating a backsplash, and installing new sinks.

tool on tile flooring

However, other things are better left to the pros.

When it comes to things like plumbing and electricity, find a reputable, licensed, and insured professional to handle it for you. Is it an extra expense? Yes. But you'll spend twice as much (if not more) if you try to handle it yourself, mess it up, and then need to hire someone to fix it.

4. Give Yourself Some Extra Cushion for Your Schedule

Just like you might very well go over budget, you might also very well fall behind schedule; so, account for this ahead of time.

This is especially important when we're talking about obtaining any necessary licenses and permits, which can take longer than we'd like. (Side note: Don't forget to factor these into your budget, because the costs can get pretty steep!)

Bear in mind, too, that when you make updates to things structurally, you might need approval from an architect and even the city.

Since parts of buying a fixer-upper are out of your control, give yourself more time than you think it'll take.

5. Do All of Your Homework Ahead of Time...

... or as much as you can, anyway.

Before you even officially buy a fixer-upper, you should be estimating the associated costs as best you can. What fixtures, gadgets, supplies, and appliances do you think you'll need to purchase? Start shopping around — what are those costs looking like?

You can even do a walk-through with any contractors you're considering hiring to (a) make sure your goals are aligned and (b) get an idea of what they're going to charge you, based on what you need.

The more you can plan ahead, the better.

6. Know What You Have to Have, and Where You're Willing to Compromise

Here's the thing: Some things are just cheaper to fix than others. Find a fixer-upper that has your "must-haves," and remain flexible on the rest of the details.

Do you have to have a home with three full bathrooms? Then aim to buy a fixer-upper with three full bathrooms — even if it isn't the perfect fit otherwise. Building out another bathroom is going to cost you way more money that you could otherwise save.

As long as the home meets your biggest needs, don't stress about the rest.

7. Don't Eyeball Anything

When we say "anything," we mean it.

Does the space in the kitchen supposedly accommodate a standard-sized refrigerator? Are you planning on purchasing a standard-sized refrigerator? That's great, but what does that mean? Measure the space. Measure the refrigerator. Two extra minutes of due diligence could save you a major headache (and serious money) in the future, if the appliance doesn't properly fit.

What about flooring? Exactly how much carpeting and tile will you need? Measure it out. Whatever that number is, get extra. You're probably going to need it.

Don't guess. Don't estimate. Measure, measure, measure.

8. Be Specific With Your Contractors

If an electrician is coming in to install a chandelier, show them exactly where you want it. Not going to be there with them? Mark the wall with tape, instead.


Don't assume that they know, and avoid crossing your fingers to hope for the best. Miscommunications can be easily avoided if you pay the utmost attention to detail and tell your contractors exactly what you want.

Of course, give them some space to give you their professional opinion. After all, that's why you hired them. But if you tell them to hang a light fixture "mostly in the center of the ceiling but a little to the left," this still isn't clear enough.

9. Remember That This is a Long-Term Project

You might dream of buying a fixer-upper and having it finished and perfect by a certain date. This could happen, yes. But there's also a good chance that this will end up being a long-term project — something that will evolve slowly over time.

And that's okay! Take the time you need to do it properly the first time, and you'll end up being very happy with your fixer-upper.

With the right research done ahead of time, the appropriate budget and schedule, and contractors you can count on, buying a fixer-upper can be a very rewarding experience.

Looking for the perfect place to call home in Las Vegas? Contact The Brendan King Group today.

No items found.