Whether you’re hoping for a cheap house to transform into the home of your dreams or looking for your next investment opportunity, a “fixer upper” can be an affordable option in a tough market. But before purchasing, there are some major problems that rundown houses can present, costing you a fortune in the long-term. Here are some key features to look out for:
Location: Location is an important factor in any property but choosing a fixer-upper in a good location can lead to a real bargain. Try to find a house that’s in a good neighbourhood, ideally surrounded by more expensive houses. It’s always easier to improve a property’s value in a desirable location than it is in a neighbourhood that isn’t sought after.
Structure and foundations: Sometimes referred to as “healthy bones,” a house with a sound structure will present you with far fewer headaches than one with structural issues. Structural problems really need to be fixed immediately as they can present safety issues and eventually lead to the collapse of a house, when left unchecked. You will certainly have to hire a professional to repair structural issues, as well as receive permission from the local council, which can add both cost and time to your renovations. It’s a good idea to have a surveyor check the foundations as well, as this is another major factor that affects the integrity of the building and could incur high costs to fix.
Roof: A damaged or worn-out roof is one of the most common problems for home buyers and can lead to thousands of dollars in unexpected costs. As roofs are often neglected in “out of sight, out of mind” fashion, it’s actually a good idea to have the roof checked before purchasing any house but especially so with a fixer-upper. It’s common for a roof to need repairs or even replacing and hiring a professional to check it can be a real eye-opener. You may even be able to persuade the seller to pay for a roof certification.
Size and layout: When renovating a house, it’s cheaper and easier to stick to cosmetic changes, rather than the huge project of moving or knocking down walls. Look for a place that already has a good layout that flows easily between rooms. Modern tastes generally tend toward open, airy living spaces rather than small, cramped rooms. Also, keep in mind the size of the house and your living requirements (or likely buyers if you intend to flip the house); for example, does it have enough bedrooms to fit your needs, will you be able to cook in a kitchen that size?
And the most important part of buying a fixer upper? Always hire a surveyor to check the property before buying so that you know exactly what you’re letting yourself in for.