Home » So, You’ve Bought A Fixer-Upper. Now What?

So, You’ve Bought A Fixer-Upper. Now What?

The price of the average home is dizzyingly high. People literally spend all their lives getting the capital together to pay off the mortgages on their properties. For many, it dominates their lives.

But that’s not the case with fixer-uppers. Auction buyers can usually pick these up at massive discounts, allowing them to grab a property for much less than the regular market price. 

Of course, there’s a catch: fixer-uppers are usually in dreadful condition. But that’s actually less of a problem than many people think. Yes, it’s annoying having to renovate a property from top to bottom, but it is usually a lot cheaper than buying a regular home outright 

So once you get your hands on a fixer-upper property, how should you go about renovating it? Let’s take a look. 

Put Your Stamp On It

Fixer-upper properties are usually in an appalling condition when you buy them. The paint is peeling off the walls, the window frames are rotten, and the roof has a hole in it. 

To many buyers, this seems disastrous, but to seasoned professionals who make a habit of fixing up properties, it’s an opportunity. It actually means that you’re free to put whatever stamp you want on your home. You don’t have to stick with convention. Ripping out entire rooms and replacing them wholesale is often your only option. And that gives you freedom. 

Assess It For Damage

Knowing the extent of the damage in your fixer-upper is critical. Ideally, you want a home that has superficial problems only. Scuffed paintwork, damaged carpets, and broken lighting are all actually much easier to fix than you might think. 

More serious problems involve dampness, foundations, roofing, and the actual structure of the building 

Interestingly, though, practically all problems are solvable. And if the property has serious issues, you can often use that to get the price down. In fact, you probably already did!

Sometimes you can get lucky and find buildings that owners believe have serious structural problems but that, in reality, do not. In these cases, you’re often able to buy and restore them for a bargain, providing you with massive returns. 

Financing Your Home Renovation

The next step is to finance your home renovation – something you’ll have to pay for separately from your mortgage. 

It’s important to note that when you buy a fixer-upper, renovation costs are a given. There’s no way to escape them. So it’s a good idea to plan for these additional expenses in advance before you part with money for the new home. 

Think realistically about how much it’s going to cost you to transform the property to an acceptable standard. In many cases, the expense will be considerably less than the price of the property itself, but not always. Unfortunately, you won’t be able to get a separate mortgage for renovation work (although you might be able to get finance), so you’ll need to consider these expenses separately. 

Consider Structural Renovations First

Your priority might be to move into your new home as quickly as you can. But if you need to carry out structural changes, you should conduct them first. This type of renovation tends to be the most disruptive. And in some cases, it might involve damaging your existing property.

Even though the property might be a fixer-upper, you’ll still need to abide by any planning restrictions or protected status that the property has. For instance, if you have bought a protected building, you might not be allowed to add extensions without special permission from planning authorities. 

Focus On Restoring Period Features

Fixer-upper properties are often historical. In fact, that can be the main appeal for buying them.

For this reason, many have period features, just waiting for you to restore them. In older properties, for instance, you’re much more likely to find original windows, beams, mouldings, and ceiling features you won’t find anywhere else. 

Where possible, focus on renovating these first and incorporating them into your interior design. Look for ways to bring them back to life and modernize them. If possible, make them the focal points of your rooms. 

Restoring traditional fireplaces, for instance, can be particularly rewarding. Restoring the brickwork, surround and mantelpiece can help bring a room to life, especially when combined with fresh paintwork. 

Get An Inspector To Sign Off On Work

Before you make any significant changes to your fixer-upper, be sure to get an inspector to sign off on the work. You want to make sure that it is safe to make changes to the building before you begin ripping out walls or repositioning doors. 

Check The Boiler Status

Most fixer-uppers are good investments, so long as the boiler is functioning correctly. But in many cases, it isn’t.

Remember, a boiler replacement could cost thousands of pounds and add a substantial amount to the cost of the property. If it doesn’t work properly, you’ll have to incur this cost in addition to the rest of your renovation expenses. 

If the boiler is broken and less than five years old, repairs are usually economical. You can restore it to its former glory by replacing a couple of parts, saving you money long-term. 

If you still haven’t bought your fixer-upper, use the boiler status as a bargaining chip. As the vendor to consider boiler costs and lower the price. 

To Save Money, Focus On Restoration

The word renovation means to “make something new” while restoration means bringing old objects back to their former glory. 

If you want to save money, we’d suggest focusing on restoration over renovation. While it can be a lot of fun to reimagine a property, it can be costly. Restoring an existing property is often a lot cheaper. 

Suppose, for instance, that your fixer-upper has wood flooring. Right now, it might look dreadful, but it could soon look much better with a little sanding and polishing. The same goes for crown moulding or wooden wall panelling. Don’t rip it out if you don’t have to. Use it to keep your costs down.