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Dos & Don’ts For Your Fixer-Upper

Home Maintenance
By on Mar 14, 2016
Dos & Don’ts For Your Fixer-Upper

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Are you a DIY thrill-seeker who is always on the hunt for the next home remodeling project? If you’re looking to score yourself a home that’s a diamond in the rough, you may already be dreaming of the potential renovations you’ll tackle.

But you don’t want your fixer-upper to become a bottomless money pit. Be smart about the projects you undertake. Here’s a list of dos and don’ts for what you should look for in your next home renovation project.

Fixer Upper Kitchen


Check the Home’s Bones

A home worth investing in has a solid infrastructure, quality floor plan and lots of character. You’ll want to ensure that the foundation and any load-bearing beams are sturdy and reliable. Some existing features that give fixer-uppers personality may also be incredibly valuable, like older hardwood floors or expensive doors. 

Consider Cosmetic Upgrades

Things like updated light fixtures, new carpet, current appliances and refinished floors are comparatively cheap and easy DIY renovations that can boost a home’s overall market value. New windows and exterior siding aren’t as cheap, but they’ll also significantly add to the value of your home. As you look for projects, don’t neglect the more creative cosmetic changes to be made.

Invest in the Kitchen & Bathroom

Any real estate agent will tell you that kitchens and bathrooms really sell a home. Remodeling a kitchen or bathroom is a sure-fire investment. These are the areas that homebuyers want to splurge on. They’ll also give you the biggest payback on your home renovations, as bathrooms alone have an average return of 86.4%.

Fixer Upper Bathroom

Look for An Easily Convertible Floor Plan

You want your room space and square footage to align with the rest of the neighborhood. If the fixer-upper you’re considering is a compact abode in the middle of newer builds with open floor plans, see if you can tear down a wall to add some space.

Look Toward the Light

Always approach remodels with light in mind. You’ll want to utilize natural light from windows and add light to dark rooms. Most people love the charm of older homes, but they’re not going to love a dimly lit cave, so keep that in mind.

Plan For Surprises

Even if you’ve done a thorough inspection, always expect the unexpected. In any fixer-upper, there will always be unseen side projects you won’t discover until you’ve knocked down a wall or pulled up a floor. Old houses can be full of bad plumbing, busted furnaces and outdated electric systems. The timeline to make upgrades will almost always take longer than expected, so be practical about a home’s potential before starting the remodel.

Fixer Upper Living Room


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Obsess Over Paint Color

This is arguably the easiest and cheapest thing to change in a home. If the current paint situation in your fixer-upper is bad, a few man hours and cans of paint can dramatically improve the look of your home. That said, for exterior paint jobs, you should still check to see if the surface material can be repainted. You may need to replace the siding on your entire house to achieve the color you desire.

Forget the Budget

Though adding an extra room and remodeling the den in your new home sounds amazing, it may not be in your budget. Keep realistic standards about your purchase and don’t buy a house that requires too many major projects. Do the math — the remodeling costs should not outweigh your eventual payback. An architect or contractor can help you secure an accurate remodeling estimate.


You need to be sensitive to what local buyers are willing and able to afford. Add too much and you could price yourself out of the market. Multiple home offices, four-car garages or swimming pools are generally not considered safe ventures — none of these give you a big enough return on investment. Sprucing up a kitchen with a luxury double oven and custom cabinets in a neighborhood where homeowners generally don’t want to pay for such upgrades is a bad idea as well.

Fixer Upper Lawncare

Neglect the Yard

Giving your front yard or backyard a makeover is great for curb appeal. Your yard does a lot of the work to impress potential buyers, so you’ll need to make sure any necessary landscaping improvements fit within your budget and skillset. Luckily, most outdoor projects are things the average homeowner can tackle on their own, no matter their DIY skills or green thumb status. And yard projects don’t have to break the bank — many are affordable and can be completed in a day.

Avoid Maintenance

Don’t put all your time into freshening up your fixer-upper and then neglect the foundation that made your house a keeper in the first place. Your first priority in a renovation should be maintaining structural integrity. There’s no point to spending tens of thousands of dollars on a cosmetic remodel while turning a blind eye to leaking pipes or cracking drywall.

Ignore Features that Can be Salvaged

What charming fixtures can stay or be reinstalled during a remodel? Maybe it’s beautiful bathroom tile or the original hardwood floors. Don’t assume just because it’s old, it’s got to go. Incorporate salvaged gems into your home.

Construction House


“Fixer-upper” should not be a four-letter word. If you’re enthusiastic about renovating your home, the time and cost is well worth the end result. An aging home can be restored to be just like new – if you start with the right home.

Ready to get started on your home renovation? Contact a pro today.

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