When I first start working with a home buyer- one of the first questions will be; “What amount of renovation work can you handle?”
Most people want a ‘move in ready’ home, not a lot of work, maybe a new coat of paint in this room or that and that’s the extent of it.
The way the real estate market is right now, people don’t have to stage or fix up their homes before selling. A house that needs even a lot of work will usually sell with multiple offers if the price and location are right in today’s crazy hot market. So here are a few questions you should ask yourself and answer if you are considering a fixer upper.
1.Where are you going to live?
If you are newly married, thinking about getting pregnant or already have a baby on the way and starting a renovation is a sure fire way of getting separated or at least some fighting will ensue. I also don’t recommend being pregnant during a reno because the drywall dust, sawdust, carrying heavy objects, or airborne v.o.c.s may be dangerous to your health and the health of your unborn child. If you already have children or pets, you have to think of how they will handle being in a sometimes unsafe construction zone that may last months longer than you expected it to. I would highly recommend planning everything out in great detail along with a tight timeline, have all your replacement finishes and fixtures purchased and ready to be installed even before you swing the demolition hammer.
2. Who will do the work?
If you hire someone- that’s fantastic, just make sure their schedule co-insides with yours so you don’t have to be disrupted during the noisy parts. (I personally lived through a kitchen remodel with two children under 5 with no kitchen sink for approximately a month. The contractor took on another job and could only finish the job in the evenings after 8 when the kids were both in bed. This is quite common so don’t be surprised if it happens to you.) My advice is to try and live somewhere else for the time being, or set up a temp kitchen while the work is being done. If you have only one bathroom- you can’t live in the house without knowing exactly how long you’ll be without running water or a toilet. Bathing in the kitchen sink gets old really fast.
3. How much free time do you have?
If you’re working full time and you come home exhausted at the end of the day, a fixer upper isn’t for you. If you call yourself a ‘weekend warrior’, then can you handle living through the chaos the rest of the week before and after the weekend? Even when you hire someone to help you with the renovations can be exhausting and time consuming. It’s not just doing the actual work, it’s choosing finishes and fixtures, putting together colours and patterns, deciding on layout and flow, chasing after contractors to finish the work, and so many more decisions that you may have to live with for a long time to come.
4. Is your significant other and your family as excited as you are?
When my husband and I were dating I got the brilliant idea to fix up his bathroom in his rental unit while he was away for a weekend. I ripped out the vanity and started painting. By the time he was home I was about half way finished painting and the sink was not yet installed. I was so excited for him to see my handiwork and all I got was a groan. He looked me square in the eye and told me to tell him when I was finished and plopped himself on the couch. I romanticized that he would be so happy to spend the time with me completing this project but I was sadly mistaken. Lovers, don’t romanticise about doing a renovation project together, renovations are neither sexy nor romantic. Talk to one another before even starting a small simple project let alone a big reno.
5. Could you walk away and not think about “what could be”?
Stop fanaticizing! A full on fixer upper is a lot of work, not at all like what the depict on those t.v. show. We’ve all been there- falling in love with a pair of shoes, a beautiful piece of art or just a wonderful little trinket so much that you couldn’t leave the store without making it yours. If you feel this way about a house it’s a little more complicated. You must be absolutely sure you know what you’re getting into before you make the leap to buy.
Always get a thorough inspection, crunch the numbers and then add at least another 10% and 3 months to your projected time for a large project. Once you know how much a fixer upper will cost you, you may realize that the investment of not just your time and money but with your emotions won’t be worth it. It sometimes is more than you’re willing to invest. After all, it’s just a house and a better one is just around the corner.