Should you put an offer in for that fixer-upper?

When I close my eyes and think about my dream home I see a large all white, ranch-style house, with a crazy-large yard for Camille to play in. As much as I would absolutely love to build this home from the ground up, buying a fixer-upper might be the way to go. I would totally be okay renovating a home, however, Joachim would have a stroke.  And he’d be concerned for good reason. As I’m sure you already know, home renovations can be wildly moody and unpredictable.

As exciting as it is for a person like myself to take on a large-scale project, there are certainly drawbacks when it comes to tackling a full-house reno. To be quite frank, there are fantasizes that you need to squash before you dive head-on into a project that you aren’t fully briefed on. When you watch home reno shows on tv it takes approximately 26 minutes to completely renovate a home. Don’t set yourself up for failure and stress-we have to be practical about what to expect. The worst thing in the world is to find yourself living a nightmare because you had an unrealistic expectation of what renovating a house was. Let’s try to avoid that kind of stress.


Realistic Timeline Expectations

It’s pretty common practice that at the beginning of your reno your contractor will provide you with a projected timeline of completion. No shade to contractors, but they definitely get a bad rep when it comes to completing a project by a particular deadline. As exciting as it might be to envision when you’ll actually move into your place, don’t become too married to the idea. It is simply an estimation. Unforeseen issues can and will arise when you least expect it.  

We’ve all seen the hit house-flipping shows and almost always there is some large hurdle that cuts into the budget and the timeline of the project. Also, it’s best to be aware upfront that there are times when not much will transpire in your reno because your contractor is waiting on an inspection, subcontractors, or products. There are so many variables that go into the timeline of a reno. In order to reduce anxiety-I think that it’s best to keep a flexible timeline that ranges from the date-of-completion that was projected to you, to double the projection. 



Before you decide to jump into a fixer-upper, internalize that the budget is also going to be unpredictable. As I stated before, the not-so-pleasant surprises will arise and you must have a contingency budget to address the issues. If you opt to go for a fixer upper, really consider if you have the financial backing to see your renovation to completion, if large and expensive roadblocks pop up.

You can obviously avoid some reno expenses by completing DIY projects. However, only attempt to tackle a DIY project if you are fully confident that you can execute them without a hitch. You definitely don’t want to ruin the structure of your home because of your lack of knowledge. What you risk here is potentially losing money to pay a professional to fix what you messed up. Even with taking the DIY approach, you still need to plan for the “unknowns” to pop up.


The Most Important Factor

Beyond budget and timeline – the biggest indicator in whether or not you should buy a fixer-upper is your mindset. You know yourself better than anyone else. You know what you can handle and what you need support with. When you are considering taking on a large renovation project you need to ask yourself some crucial questions: Do I have the mental fortitude to handle a large and expense setback? Can I deal with prolonged completion of the project? Am I willing to sacrifice some comforts in order to see my project through to completion? Can I make tough decisions that will have long-term consequences? If any of these check-ins gives you pause about jumping into a whole house reno, it might be time to reassess the task.

At the same time, one of the main draws to do a reno is the potential increase of the property’s resale value. Additionally, you have the opportunity to really curate a space that is uniquely you. If you do opt for a fixer-upper, aim to space the renovations out over the course of a few months to years to avoid a meltdown. Also, I think that it’s best to lower your standards when it comes to living in your home throughout the reno. It might be messy and uncomfortable, but it won’t last forever.  

Good luck on your journey!


Let’s keep the party going!


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