When it comes to buying a new house, it’s always nicer to move into a home that has everything you want– move in ready. However, those finishing touches come at a cost, which may be outside of your total budget. Sometimes, in order to get the house you want, you need to settle for purchasing a fixer-upper and then investing your surplus budget into renovations instead.
What To Look For
When looking at houses that could become the one, you need to ignore:
- decor. If people haven’t updated wood panelling since the seventies, or still think that bright pink carpet is the bees knees, don’t worry. Once you own the house, those things ca be fixed.
- mess. It’s hard to imagine yourself in a house that’s a sty. As you walk through, you might be disgusted by the piles of clutter and the tub that hasn’t been washed for a decade. However, things can be cleaned and removed. As a bonus, you can often make a lower offer on a dirty dwelling.
- layout. When all the rooms are small, and the home has no open concept, it can be hard to imagine making a modern space. In a house that has a lot of walls, try to imagine taking some of those walls down to make kitchens and living spaces more open.
However, there are some things you shouldn’t take lying down. You want most of your renovation budget to go toward a cosmetic facelift. So, when looking at houses try to avoid:
- foundation problems. Sometimes, cracking in the walls indicates settling, which is usually no problem. But, cracks and jammed doors can also mean that something is wrong, which would mean a costly repair for you.
- electrical issues. Knob and tube wiring is an outdated electrical system that many older homes still have. It can be difficult to get insurance for houses with this type of wiring, so make sure that you either factor in replacement electrical into your budget, or avoid houses that could need an overhaul for their electric work, as the cost for the replacement can can start anywhere between $4000-8000.
Smaller issues, such as replacing insulation and making sure there are no mold or pest problems, can also become budget busters. However, if you love the property anyway, these may not be as costly to repair as the issues listed above.
Renovations That Make The Most Difference
After you’ve found the perfect candidate to turn into your dream home, it’s time to start the demolition process. You should put most of your renovation budget into the areas that will make the most difference to you. The best areas to improve are usually:
1. The Kitchen. If the cabinets are old or outdated, you can simply remove them from the wall and order new cabinets in whatever layout you wish. For a higher end finish, you should always choose custom cabinetry, as it will be made to fit the space, and can be finished in whatever colour you like. If you want to save some money, you can order stock cabinets and then do your best to make them fit the space.
Part of refinishing the kitchen means replacing the countertop and the appliances. Most cabinet companies also provide countertops, or have contracted companies that they recommend. The best countertops are made from natural stone, or are man-made solid surface. For a modern look, try to go with stainless steel appliances.
2. The floor and living space. To open up the living space, you may have to remove a few walls with the help of a contractor or engineer– just to make sure that any load bearing walls are removed and re-supported properly. After opening up the floor, you can use the same flooring throughout, including the kitchen.
These two changes can transform the main living space, and give you a main floor that you are proud of. As you look for your dream home, don’t dismiss houses that are dated or dirty– with some renovations, they can be better than you ever thought possible. Plus, as an added bonus, new floors and new kitchens mean a huge increase in property value. You’ll have made all the renovation costs back in equity.