To Fix or Not to Fix

You’ve been looking at homes to buy and think it might be a good idea to find one in need of a little TLC. You’re handy, the place has great bones, and those shows on television make the process look so simple. Whether you are on the market for a home that you can make your own or you’re looking to invest or flip, here are some points to keep in mind before getting fitted for a hard hat.

  • Be Honest – Know what you can do and delegate the rest. If your idea of being handy is hanging pictures that are “almost” level, you might be better off working on the design aspect of the process. You’re spending your own time and money so you can be as adventurous as you want, but at least opt for a professional to do the electrical and plumbing work otherwise you might face very dangerous and expensive learning experiences.
  • Do Your Research – If there is a property that stands out to you and you already know what needs to be done (maybe the kitchen needs new cabinets and appliances and the bathroom needs to be re-tiled) start pricing out project items at local retailers. If you are looking to stay on the lower side of the budget, big box stores may be the way to go. You may also want to view homes with your contractor so he or she can give you an idea of the cost of things you might have overlooked. Make sure you are working with someone you know and trust, or someone reliable who has been recommended by a friend, family member, or trusted third party.
  • Set a Budget – Some people set an all-inclusive budget while others may have a specific purchase price in mind for the property with another amount set aside for labor and materials to fix it up. Remember that surprises happen, sometimes more often than you’d like, so be prepared and set a buffer of 10% to 20% aside in your budget for just that.
  • Know When to Compromise – After setting a budget it’s a good idea to make a list of the things you know you want for the home and another list of the things you can live without. Maybe you’ve always wanted a farmhouse sink in the kitchen and in order to get it, you can compromise on the center island. If you are renovating your own home, do what means the most to you. If it’s an investment property research which improvements could increase the property’s resale value. This article on The Balance’s website entitled The Best Home Improvements to Add Resale Value is a good place to start.
  • Timing is Important, Not Definite – You’ve set a schedule and you want to stick to it, although it may not always be realistic. Whether you’ve bought the home for yourself and are living in the chaos of a remodel or you’ve invested and every month another mortgage payment is chipping away at your proposed profit, any delay can be daunting but it’s something for which you should be prepared. Sometimes the work can take longer than you’d think or maybe something completely out of your control arises like obtaining a license or permit. Either way be sure to set aside extra time and patience because things don’t always go as planned.

Renovating a property may not be as simple as it looks on those remodeling shows but if tearing down walls and creating something beautiful is what you love, you should do it. With a little help, a lot of hard work, and some realistic goals, your reno project could rival anything you see on TV.

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