When to Turn Away from that Fixer-Upper



Do you dream of buying a house that’s a bit run-down? It’s not uncommon for people to possess a desire to purchase a fixer-upper and turn it into a home of their own. While the idea may seem like a good one, there are a few things you should think about first. Here are five reasons you may want to turn your back on that house that needs work:

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1.Structural Issues

According to author Ilona Bray, author of “Nolo’s Essential Guide to Buying Your First Home,” there is a difference between things that won’t cost a lot of money and things that will. There is a vast difference, for instance, between replacing kitchen cabinetry and ripping out moldy drywall. For first-time home buyers with little DIY knowledge, cosmetic issues are easy to learn how to fix. Structural issues, on the other hand, will require expensive contractors and months’ worth of time.

2.Time

Speaking of time, ask yourself how much of it you have to devote to fixing your home and how long you can live in a house that’s torn apart. If one or both of you is able to dedicate 40 hours a week or more to fixing up your home, you can get things completed fairly quickly. If you plan on working your regular job and muddling around the house on weekends, you’ll be living with the mess for longer than you expect.

3.Money

If you purchase a true fixer-upper, you’ll not get away with making repairs for less than 10 grand. Many people make the mistake of getting estimates and tacking those costs onto the price of the home to come up with a desired loan amount. It is virtually a guarantee that unexpected expenses will arise. If you sink all of your money into your loan, where will you get the extra money that you need for renovations? Also consider that at some point in time, you’ll run into a project that you simply can’t complete on your own. The contractor that you’ll need to hire will expect to be paid.

4.DIY

Do you know how to replace wall studs? Can you tear off and put on a roof with the help of a few friends? If you can, then a fixer-upper might be a great idea. If you can’t, however, a fixer-upper can quickly turn into an expensive nightmare. Don’t exaggerate your own skills. Painting a wall is different than putting in a dropped ceiling. Refinishing a counter top is different than replacing one. Know your limitations and make sure that you aren’t getting in over your head from day one.

5.Divorce

It may seem extreme, but you may be surprised at how many relationships break up over something as simple as a house. Home buying is stressful enough. The money and time spent on the ordeal is enough to test the resolve of any couple. Throw a fixer-upper on top of that stress and the pressure skyrockets. If your relationship is on shaky ground, avoid a fixer-upper at all costs. If your relationship is rock steady, be sure to take the time to discuss choices, money and responsibilities ahead of time. Having a game plan can ease the burden of such a major life event.

If you have the time, money and energy, a fixer-upper can be a dream come true. You can get a house with good bones that you can turn into your own. On the other hand, a fixer-upper can be the worst thing that you’ve ever done. Before you decide to buy a home that isn’t quite inhabitable, consider whether or not you’re really ready.

Author Robin Knight lives in Minneapolis and is using Movoto.com to find a new home in a good neighborhood.