Home Remodel

How to Pick a Fixer Upper – and LOVE it!

Guys, it’s happening.  It’s seriously happening.  In 23 days (552 hours or 33,120 minutes or 1,987,200 seconds…but who’s counting?) we are going to have our contractor start on our whole main level remodel!  This has been in the making since we purchased our sweet little fixer upper in November.  Check out the full house tour here.  We had plans to immediately dive in and start demolishing the first floor, redo the master bathroom, and the list went on and on.  Then of course the budget became much more real and we decided to hold back and winnow down our massive list to phases.  So, since November we’ve been rocking some atrocious hunter green and maroon wallpaper in the diningroom, a super 80s kitchen, white tile that has been the death of me with three boys and two dogs, and some wood paneling that is reminiscent of every house Chip and Joanna walk into.

I’m eager to show off the design elements and all the plans that I’ve come up with over these last months, but in the meantime, I wanted to share some of the criteria for picking a fixer upper that helped focus my attention and really nail choosing a house that has great bones, but a little extra love.

Really Know Your Budget

Construction and remodeling costs are so outrageous.  You think that a simple paint job won’t break the bank, but when you add in supplies and labor costs, it’s crazy expensive!  When looking at homes, have a contractor chosen already that you feel confident with.  Have them walk the property with you and talk through potential ideas and costs.  Get a roundabout budget and decide if he price of the home and the cost of renovation is truly doable.

The Right Pieces are Working

Nothing adds up the costs like electrical, plumbing and structural shape of a house.  Be sure that these pieces are in good working condition, or that the seller is willing to fix these elements prior to closing.

Know Your Vision

What are the design elements that you can’t live without?  Before you even begin looking at homes, make a list of all the things that you just HAVE to have in your home and make those non-negotiable.  It becomes so hard when excitement brews up inside you when you’re looking at a house and you can start to rationalize that you don’t need that big backyard or that maybe a 1.5 story is just as good as a 2 story home.  If you want something and it keeps popping up on your list before house hunting, then it’s important enough to make it happen.  Wait and be patient.  The right home will be there.

Look Past Ugly

I cringe every time I watch a show on HGTV and the realtor (or let’s be real…I just Chip and JoJo) ask the potential buyer what they think of the home, and they say, “Well this paint is super ugly.”  This is a fixer upper for a reason and you have to expect some hideous parts, maybe some bad smells, and you just have to look past it all.  Keep your list in hand, your mind open, and maybe your nose plugs handy.

Is It Really Worth It?

We knew from the start that a fixer upper path was the way to go.  We had one neighborhood we were waiting to get into, but even slightly outdated houses were priced well over our budget.  If we purchased ones that were at the top of our budget, we would have no room to make it our own and have to live with whatever condition it was in.  To get into our dream neighborhood with the quiet streets, park within walking distance, and ideal school, we had to steal away a house that needed extra love.  But just because it worked for us, and just because it’s become very trendy to do home improvements and binge watch HGTV shows, fixer upper’s don’t necessarily work for everyone.

The idea of our home being out of commission for upwards of 2-3 months is terrifying and gives me a physical reaction just writing that out.  Cutting a check for all the initial housing costs, plus moving costs, and then shelling out tens of thousands of dollars months later is gut-wrenching and not for the faint of heart.  And the planning and preparation necessary to make it all come together is grueling. Yikes!  The work is hard, the stress is harder, but the return is beautiful.  Take time to truly decide if it’s right for you.

I’m so eagerly awaiting August 15th and the 2 months of sawdust, paint samples, and contractor battles that are in my future.  We love our fixer upper and I hope these tips help you to find your dream home in the making, too!

One Comment

  • Abby Casey

    I’m so excited for your reno to be starting!! I cannot wait to see the finished product! Post progress pics on your blog!

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