by: Suzie Wilson (Happier Home)
For many people, buying their dream home is just that—a dream. But for the savvy homebuyer, a dream home can be within reach, if you are willing to put in a little extra work. Closing on a fixer-upper home means a lot of different things. It could mean anything from major structural changes to minor aesthetic upgrades. Knowing what you’re getting yourself into can be the difference between buying a fixer-upper dream home and a broken-down nightmare.
If your budget doesn’t include a house you adore in a neighborhood you admire, you might consider buying a home that needs some sweat equity. Most real estate experts will tell you that purchasing a house that could use a few upgrades makes sense—as long as you are realistic about the process. Here are three issues you may need to compromise on and how to renovate around them.
#1 Not Enough Space: It’s not uncommon to find a great deal on a house that is just one or two rooms short of your ideal. Your family doesn’t have to live on top of each other just to be in your dream neighborhood. Consider adding a garage or an external structure, like a shed or workshop. If the right house isn’t quite the right size, you can add more space with a detached garage for extra storage. An external structure for tools and garden and lawn equipment or hobby and craft areas can reduce or even eliminate clutter buildup in the more lived-in areas. Be sure to keep in mind important building elements like permits, tools, and materials. For instance, steel is an affordable, simple material for building external structures. A steel garage or shed could be a quick, simple solution to space needs.
#2 Older Appliances: A spacious kitchen has caught your eye, but the loud, clanky refrigerator from the 1990s has you second-guessing your decision. A beautiful dream home could seem like a challenge if the right appliances aren’t there—or it could be an opportunity. If you aren’t inconvenienced by older appliances and are not in a hurry, you can replace them one room at a time. Older appliances may not be ideal, but if you’re going to upgrade them eventually and you can live with them for now, then that also means you can take your time—and put in a lower offer.
#3 Structural Upgrades: Your dream home could be just a new roof away. Major renovations, like a repaired roof, new furnace, or upgraded electrical are repairs every house needs at some point in time. If you plan on staying in your new home for 15-20 years, you’ll likely have to pay for these upgrades at some point anyway. Knowing that from the start can help you bargain for a lower price on a home you love. A roof might just need some re-shingling, or it could be time for a whole new installation. Make no mistake, roofing is hard work. It can take days or even weeks, and there is no hiding from the elements—rain or shine. But if you have the knowledge and the willpower, a DIY roof repair can save you thousands on a home that calls to your heart, but might be a touch out of budget.
Talking to a professional can help you decide if a fixer-upper can be saved with DIY projects or if hiring a pro is the best way to go. You don’t want to get yourself in over your head, but for many families, a fixer-upper can be their ticket into neighborhoods and homes otherwise out of reach.
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