The Habitat
Home
Share to PinterestHow to Tell If That Fixer-Upper is Worth Fixing Up
Share to PinterestHow to Tell If That Fixer-Upper is Worth Fixing Up
Advertisement

Beautiful bones, great floor plan, a lovely landscape. You feel like this home is "the one", but how do you know? What are the telltale signs that a fixer-upper might be nothing more than a downer?

The dream home concept is subjective: Some fixes might seem absolutely insignificant to you, while others are deal breakers. It ultimately comes down to this: what updates are you willing to make for your white picket ideal?

01

If there's a mildew odor or visible signs of moisture—maybe not

Share to PinterestMold on wall
Emilija Manevska/ Getty Images

If you can smell mildew in the home, it's a sign of long-term moisture gone unchecked. The smell of mildew and any visible signs of rotting could mean much more significant damage that you can't see, such as mold, which can harm your family's health.

Advertisement
02

If the windows or doors are sticky—maybe not

Share to Pinterest female real estate agent opening door of home
The Good Brigade/ Getty Images

If you can't open some of the windows or if some of the home's doors are tough to open and close, these could be signs of something much bigger. Sticky windows and doors may be signs of moisture, the house settling, or structural shifts — all of which are pretty hefty repairs that could cost thousands of dollars.

Advertisement
03

If there are neighboring vacant homes in similar or worse condition—maybe not

Share to PinterestThe exterior of an old house being remodeled.
chamey/ Getty Images

Buying a fixer-upper in a nice neighborhood with good nearby schools is a great idea. But if the run-down remodel you've got your eye on is in an area with similar homes, it could be a bad sign.

Quality educational institutions may be a lengthy drive away, or your kids could be walking to school through an unfavorable neighborhood. Even if you renovate the home considerably, you can't always remedy the community.

Advertisement
04

If there's a visible insect or rodent infestation—maybe not

Share to Pinteresthouse mouse (Mus musculus) gets into the room through a hole in the wall
irin717/ Getty Images

There's nothing worse than walking into a home with the scent of mice or rats. Once rodent infestations get to the point where there's an odor, the chances of forcing these pests to find another home are slim to none, and traps can only go so far.

What about an insect infestation, like fleas? This can sometimes be solved with bug bombs and flooring replacement. However, repair costs can be astronomical if the home shows signs of termites or carpenter ants. Removing the pests is one thing—mending the damage they've caused can make a fixer-upper a real downer.

Advertisement
05

If the floors are sloping or saggy—could have potential

Share to Pinterestthe wooden floor is damaged
Yusuke Ide/ getty Images

Sloping or sagging floors could be a sign of structural problems. If the floors are distorted due to a damaged subfloor, that's potentially fixable.

But, if it’s buckling because the home's frame, foundation, or joists are damaged, you may want to keep looking. You'll also need to factor this additional cost into your renovation budget.

Advertisement
06

If the home is historic or in a historic district—could have potential

Share to Pinterestquiet urban neighborhood
JenniferPhotographyImaging/ Getty Images

When you visit historic cities like Savannah, Georgia, and Philadelphia, Pennsylvania, it's easy to fall in love with the turn-of-the-century homes on display and perhaps even entertain the idea of one day owning one.

While most historic homes have been lovingly restored and receive annual maintenance, owning one comes with caveats. Houses with historic designations and properties in historic districts may have zoning restrictions that impede specific improvements to the house and land. Consider this carefully before you decide to purchase a landmark.

Advertisement
07

If the home is so far out it's practically off-grid—could have potential

Share to PinterestFarm house in the distance
BDphoto/ Getty Images

Do you daydream of owning a home so far from the rush of city life that you're willing to pay top dollar for it? The idea of no nearby neighbors is certainly enticing. But before you decide to buy a nearly off-grid project home, it's important to think it through.

For instance, where is the closest DIY home store? Material runs could eat up a better part of your day. If you have items shipped to you instead, the shipping costs for an off-grid address could shrink your budget. It can be done if you've figured these costs into the renovation and it won't break the bank.

Advertisement
08

If the home reminds you of the Gilded Age—quite possibly

Share to PinterestA southern manor located in the downtown histroic district of Savannah,
DWalker44/ Getty Images

If you've ever caught an episode of Bros of Decay on YouTube, you know: It's not just homes in forgotten neighborhoods that become weathered and need repairs. Generations pass, and even the most affluent of families can leave magnificent homes behind, including antiques and other belongings.

If you've found one of these generational mansions and you can imagine a fabulous lawn underneath the brush or can envision the B&B you could open, you might have your dream home and a money-maker on your hands once you've put in the work.

Advertisement
09

If most of the repairs are simply aesthetic—quite possibly

Share to Pinterestcouple hanging wallpaper
Liquorice/ Getty Images

Getting a home inspection is the only way to know if all the renos are mostly minor cosmetic updates. Often, the greatest issues with a property aren't apparent at first glance. If your inspection highlights a few cosmetic repairs, chances are it's a good investment.

But if your inspector shows you a crumbling foundation, old-school electrical wiring, or outdated plumbing, you may want to keep looking.

Advertisement
10

If you can do most of the repairs yourself—quite possibly

Share to PinterestThe scene of DIY. Families are plastering together.
PHOTO MIO JAPAN/ Getty Images

The easiest way to conserve your finances on a fixer-upper is to do most of the renovations yourself because every job you have to hire a contractor for eats into your bottom line.

If there are projects you'll need help on, get estimates before making a hiring (and maybe a buying) decision.

Advertisement

Share

Scroll Down

for the Next Article

Advertisement
Advertisement