What to Know Before You Buy That Fixer-Upper

BY Allconnect Inc | Mon Oct 28, 2013

What to Know Before You Buy That Fixer-UpperMany first-time home buyers are willing to compromise on the condition of a home, compared with firm must-haves like location and distance from quality schools, US News and World Report notes. While this offers first-time buyers a lower upfront cost, not all remodel jobs are created equal. Before putting in an offer on a home in need of major renovations, take stock of what you’re realistically able to accomplish, and consider the pros and cons of completing a home remodel.

Remodeling by the numbers

Aesthetics and the condition of your home will play the biggest role in your remodeling priorities. If you’re hoping to recoup the value of your remodel when you sell, it pays to know what buyers value, and what they don’t. The average bathroom remodel more than pays for itself, returning 101.3 percent of value, Zillow reports. A minor kitchen remodel — for example, replacing outdated cabinet fronts, but leaving the interior intact, and putting in a new dishwasher and range — nearly pays for itself, returning 98 percent of value. Converting the attic into a bedroom returns 93 percent value, and can also be a way to make rental income, Zillow says.

On the flip side, some projects net you a loss. A swimming pool often decreases home value unless you’re in a luxury neighborhood where buyers expect a pool, Boston.com notes. Costly improvements to the plumbing and electric wiring of the house are not likely to return your investment, because buyers will not be able to see these things. Boston.com Homes recommends taking steps to improve your home’s flow and floor plan. If you’re stuck with an odd floor plan, opening up the home can improve home value, while working with the floor plan to create “cozy” rooms will decrease perceived value.

When to DIY and when to contract out

If you’re somewhat handy, you may feel you can tackle home improvements yourself. You can indeed paint the interior or exterior of the home, repaint the brick walkway outside, or repair those loose, weathered deck floorboards. However, some projects require expert attention. If you don’t have the skills to lay bathroom tile, but think you can learn, that’s one thing — give it a try. If you’re trying to repair a dilapidated roof and you don’t know the first thing about roof repair or safety, it’s time to look for a contractor for home remodeling and roof repair.

Accurately asses your skills to determine if you can complete a particular job to the standard required, and if safety is a concern. How long will it take you to complete the job from start to finish? How confident are you that you can get the supplies you need to do the job, and perform the job at a level you’ll be happy with? How much will it cost you to complete the project versus hiring someone? You might be reluctant to hire a contractor just to perform one task, but if they’ll lump several small projects together, you can come out ahead.

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