Considering a fixer-upper? Here’s what you need to know
Homebuyers often start their search looking to score a deal on a fixer-upper, hoping to transform it into their dream home. Though it sounds like fun, the reality is that the overhaul process—fraught with decision-making, unexpected headaches, and constant price considerations—can quickly overwhelm. To really make a renovation work, it’s essential to plan ahead, secure a good architect and contracting team, and get realistic about your budget and timeline. Curbed spoke to Paul Skema, president of architecture and construction firm Roth Design + Build, and Jean Brownhill, founder of online contracting service Sweeten, about what you need to know before taking the plunge on a fixer-upper.
Be realistic about the scope of project you’re willing to take on
“Before you even look for an apartment or home, you want to understand what type of project you’re comfortable with,” says Skema. It’s one thing to buy a minor fixer-upper that can be tackled with DIY projects—like pulling up carpet or laying down tile—but it’s something else entirely to buy a home that has serious structural issues. Not all fixer-uppers are alike, and the scope of the project you’re willing to take on will set the tone for your renovation. If you can’t commit the money, time, effort, and risk that goes into buying a place that needs a gut renovation, skip the open house altogether, even if the price tag looks appealing.
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