A run down home

Buying a Fixer Upper Home

Updated March 3, 2017 . AmFam Team

Thinking about buying a fixer-upper home? Follow these tips and head into your project knowing exactly what you’re getting into.

You’ve binge watched every episode of HGTV’s newest renovation show, and now you’re ready to take on a fixer-upper of your own. But there’s more that goes on behind the scenes than you think. Follow these tips and take on your cool new project with confidence. Who knows — maybe soon you’ll have your own show, too!

Location is key. Location drives saleability and if your fixer-upper is in a stale part of town, it could be difficult to find buyers if you ever want to sell. Keep in mind desirable areas with good schools and a healthy market growth.

Hire an inspector. A home inspector can uncover problems you might not see yourself. They’ll evaluate problems with the interior, including heating and cooling systems, electrical wiring, insulation, plumbing, the roof, overall structure and more. Don’t be afraid to follow them around the house. You’ll learn a lot more tagging along than just getting a written report.

Double-check the structure. If the home has good bones and you don’t have to mess with the structure or foundation, you’re already in good shape. But if you’re considering a home with structural issues, it’s wise to hire a structural engineer who will let you know if the problem can be fixed and give you an accurate estimate to add to your budget.

Assess the architecture. Are the rooms the appropriate size? Can you convert the floor plan to your liking without it costing an arm and a leg? Do you need to knock out or add a wall? The layout of the home is an important factor when considering the cost of renovations, so make sure it works for you on a functional level.

Pay attention to permits. Getting a permit allows someone who is knowledgeable to review your plans and spot potential issues before you begin the work. Permits are actually required in most fixer-upper cases, especially if you plan on enlarging, altering, repairing, moving or demolishing any part of the home. Ask local officials if the work you’re doing requires a permit and how much it costs.

Be prepared to help. Roll up your sleeves and get your safety hat on. There’s a lot of simple fixes that come with renovating, like stripping wallpaper, painting, installing trim, etc. Decide what you can do yourself, because when you jump in to take care of the little things, you’ll have more money to spend on the bigger things that take more than a paintbrush to fix.

Are you committed to the rehab? From the shag carpet to the wallpaper peeling off, there’s a lot of simple cosmetic fixes that may be enjoyable for those who like to DIY. But renovating isn’t all fun and games. A fixer upper takes time and is more than just repainting the kitchen. Check out these home insurance tips for remodeling before knocking out that first wall.

Now that you’ve got some preliminary know-how, you can confidently start looking for a fixer-upper fit just for you! But don’t forget about the most important addition to your renovation reverie: homeowners insurance. Talk to your American Family agent today.

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