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Should You Buy A Fixer-Upper?





Fixer-upper (noun). A home you purchase at a reasonable price, but one that requires an unreasonable amount of money in repairs and renovations.

Okay, so I made up that definition, and it's not always true. Buying fixer-uppers can get you more house than you would normally be able to afford at a reasonable price. They can be pleasantly inexpensive. But they can also be money pits, masquerading behind a façade of charming woodwork and arched doorways.

As tempting as the purchase price is for houses that need a little TLC, you must assess whether a fixer-upper is right for you. To do that, you need an appraisal. And I'm not just talking about the house.

An honest appraisal of yourself

I believe even a carefully selected fixer-upper is really only a bargain if you can do the labor yourself. Even though we come from a long line of blue-collar workers, we have a lot to learn. Still, we have people to ask. Between our two families, we have two HVAC technicians, a plumber, an electrician, two ex-carpenters, a concrete worker, and two RNs (just in case the renovations don't go smoothly).

It's more than knowing how to do repairs, though. Even if you can do most of the labor yourself, do you want to? For instance, my husband loves doing electrical work, but doesn't enjoy carpentry. That means our windows remained untrimmed for long time, but I'm not shocked that we have a great fuse box.

Then there's living in the middle of endless projects. Since we renovate after our day jobs, sometimes we live in the middle of projects for a long time. When we refinished our wood floors on the main level, I was this close to going crazy. There was dust everywhere, for too long.

And are you equipped with the necessary tools? Even though we have the main tools like hammers and drills, we also share the really expensive or less commonly used tools between family members. Tools are expensive. You may want to borrow or rent tools that you won't use as often.

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