What To Think About Before Taking On A Fixer-Upper

If you’re looking to buy a house but you’re on a tight budget, then it could be smart to look for a fixer-upper. At the same time, it’s important to be clear on what you’re taking on before you part with your cash. With that in mind, here are some points to think about before taking on a fixer-upper.

Man frustrated with the amount of work that still needs done

What local laws do you need to know about?

This is a question you should ask yourself before you buy any property. It’s especially important for fixer-uppers because the whole point of a fixer-upper is to improve it. That means you need to know what you can and can’t do. You may find that the reason the house is a fixer-upper is that it’s in a legally-complex situation nobody wants to tackle.

Is the property habitable?

Some fixer-uppers only need moderate repairs to them. These can often be done after you’ve moved in if you’re OK to live with the inconvenience. On the other hand, some fixer-uppers need serious work done to them just to make them safe to live in.  

If the fixer-upper had land, you might be able to park an RV on it. That would give you somewhere to call your own while the repairs were in progress. With that said, living in an RV does bring its own challenges, especially in cooler weather. You’d need to think carefully about whether or not you were really up for them.

RV on land used as housing temporarily

How much work does the property need?

This is often the make-or-break question for fixer-uppers. Financially, you need to be sure that you’re getting a big enough discount on the potential value of the property to make the effort worthwhile. Practically, you’ll need to be sure that you can handle the task.

Even if you have the skills and the tools needed for the work, you need to think about the time involved. Fitting it in around a full-time job could make for a long and exhausting restoration project. Taking a break from work to do it will mean you lose income. That cost would need to be factored into the overall budget for the project.

You also need to think about the legal practicalities. It’s common for there to be laws that require certain types of jobs to be done by qualified tradespeople. Generally, this means anything involving gas or electricity.  

How good is the current infrastructure?

The first point to check is how easily the property can be accessed by road. More specifically, how easily can it be accessed by different types of vehicles? For example, regular cars and pickups can use roads that are way too heavy for proper trucks. On the other hand, proper trucks can handle rough ground better than cars and pickups.

You also need to check out the utility situation. Even if a house is on-grid, it might not have the infrastructure needed for a working, modern home. Older fixer-uppers might not be connected to the internet. If they’re not, you should thoroughly investigate the connection options. Fast internet is often a key sales point for homebuyers.

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