Is a Fixer-Upper Right for You?

Dated: April 29 2021

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If you have watched any home improvement television shows over the past few years it is likely you have been lulled into the belief that most house flips or major home improvements can be solved neatly inside a thirty-minute primetime cable window. Hiccups, delays, and expensive repairs are often glossed over and what viewers end up focusing on is the serotonin hit of an ugly “before” that has been transformed into a beautiful “after.” 

Perhaps you, too, have considered purchasing a home as a fixer-upper. Maybe Chip and Joanna Gaines have become famous icons or mentors to you. Maybe you think you have Chip’s rugged humor or Joanna’s style, or better yet, their budget to go all in and turn a misfit home into the place where dreams are made. Possibly, you’ve passed by their branded Magnolia merchandise at Target and wondered, “Is a fixer-upper right for me?” 

Before you go down that path of reverie with farmhouse sinks, beautiful fabrics, and the release of demo-day aggression you might truly ask yourself if this type of undertaking is reasonable for your specific situation. 

While the sales price of the home may seem too good to be true, when purchasing a fixer-upper it is important to have a trained professional do a walk-through with you to help determine the exact renovations the home will need to make it liveable. Not only should you calculate the repairs or replacements, but most significantly you should help to determine a timeline and an honest budget for these needs. 

Does your military lifestyle of frequent moves and high operational tempos allow for the time to DIY? 

Next, you will need to determine whether or not you will do this work yourself or whether or not you plan to hire it out. If you’re handy and capable and have the time, great news! You can save a lot of money in the long run. If you will have to hire out the work, you will be at the mercy of contracted workers’ timelines and higher costs. It’s vital to honestly ask yourself if you have the necessary skillset, time, and money to take on a project of this magnitude. 

Can you sustain your normal quality of life while living in a state of incompletion during renovations? Is it safe for you and your family to do so? 

This consideration might be the next most important beyond the cost. The degree to which you will need to renovate will determine whether or not you can live in the home while it undergoes its transformation. There is a great difference between updating some flooring room by room versus gutting your kitchen and bathrooms for a project that could take months to complete. 

However, there are advantages to taking on such a home project! There is obvious potential to make a profit when you sell the home in the future. If you are indeed buying the worst house on the block to transform it into something great, you stand to earn a huge payout in the difference between what you paid to buy and renovate and what you might be able to sell the house for. There’s also the enjoyment factor of hard work, getting to design and pick out personalized features of your home as well as the satisfaction of completing a meaningful project with your own two hands. 

Be discerning in your appraisal of the potential home you’d like to fix up. Be discerning in exactly how much it will cost to purchase, repair, renovate, and decorate it. Be discerning in your own level of handiness and skill. Be discerning whether or not your family can handle a long, drawn-out project and live in a state of upheaval. Be discerning in the difference between what you stand to gain and what you stand to lose. And if, after discerning and counting the cost you decide that a fixer-upper maybe just out of reach for you now, watch a home improvement show or two and keep taking notes for when the time may be right! 

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Jennifer Elliott

Jennifer Elliott obtained a BS in Business Management from Liberty University in 2010, and then went on to receive a Real Estate Sales license in 2012 and Associate Broker license in 2018. She has sin....

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