Should I Buy an Imperfect Home?
The real estate market remains hot, and that means fewer homes and more buyers. But, fixer-upper houses are often overlooked by homebuyers needing to move quickly. There are plenty of bargains to be found, but you should know what you’re getting into before you jump headfirst into a world of never-ending renovations.
A little TLC
Many homes listed as needing repairs simply have cosmetic issues that the current owner doesn’t want to deal with. Even if there are structural issues, they may not be urgent, and can be fixed down the road. Foundation problems, for example, may be something as simple as a single support column needing replaced or uneven settling on an older home. Cosmetic issues, which Sonoma County Mortgages describes as things like paint, carpet, and baseboards, are simple to fix without spending the extra money on a contractor.
Modern homes are built to modern standards, meaning they are bigger than those built by our grandparents. But a small home, even one that needs a little bit of work, may not actually be as limiting as you might think. If you have the right amount of bedrooms and plan to stay in the home for many years, building a garage can increase your usable space while pulling double duty as a place to safely store your vehicle. This is not, however, a DIY project. Use a contractor with experience who is willing to use the best materials and will give you a full quote up front. For a freestanding garage, a steel building is best, and can withstand Mother Nature on even her worst days. This interactive diagram can help you identify the different elements of a steel building and the benefits of each.
The big issues
Two of the most expensive home repairs are replacing the plumbing and electrical systems. If your home is more than 100 years old, it may be time to swap out the supply pipes and drain lines, and that can get prohibitively expensive. Houselogic estimates that a 1,500-square foot home with two bathrooms can run as high as $10,000 to replace the plumbing work. This does not include faucets and fixtures in the kitchen, bath, and outdoors.
Electrical renovations, including changing the fuse box, switches, outlets, and internal wiring, can easily top $15,000. While there are a few electrical projects you can tackle on your own to save money, even one missed wire can literally burn down the house. Unless the home is priced well below its value, you don’t have to move in immediately, and have the extra funds to complete these projects, it may be best to leave homes with electrical and plumbing issues to the investors.
Other issues to consider
A home is made up of many parts, not just the electrical and plumbing. Talk to your home inspector about the HVAC system, appliances, insulation, and hot water tank. Your home inspector won’t check for some issues, such as radon, so if you are serious about the property, have these issues checked as well. Finally, listen to your senses, and pay attention to how you feel inside the home – and how it smells. Weird smells may be a sign of water damage, pest infestation, or mold.
If you do make the decision to buy a home that needs work, don’t just pick the first contractor that shows up for a quote. Double check to make sure they are licensed, insured, and bonded, and also specialize in the type of project for which they are quoting. Ask specifically who will be doing the work; some companies utilize subcontractors, who may not be as experienced as you are led to believe. Popular Mechanics offers more insight on how to pick the perfect contractor.
Just because the house doesn’t have enough space or needs repairs doesn’t mean it can’t become home, but don’t get blindsided by price and location. Enter the process with rational expectations, and consider all of your options before committing to the purchase.
Many thanks to guest writer, Eugene Williams
*Should I Buy an Imperfect Home?
Thinking of buying a fixer-upper in Charlotte? Let’s talk! Call or text (704) 491-3310.