Why You Should Never Buy A Fixer-Upper
So you saw a rickety old house on the corner with peeling paint, overgrown weeds, and a front porch one strong breeze away from collapsing. And your first thought was “what a diamond in the rough!”
Look, I get the appeal. There’s something romantic about taking a broken down disaster and turning it into your dream home through nothing but elbow grease and optimism.
But don’t let that charmingly dilapidated money pit seduce you with its creaky floorboards and dreams of potential. Buying a true fixer-upper is almost never a good idea. Unless you’re supremely handy, filthy rich, and have endless free time, just keep on driving past that leaning shack!
Why? Well, let’s find out together, shall we?
9 reasons why you shouldn’t buy a fixer-upper
1. Hidden costs will balloon your budget
The purchase price may seem like a steal, but factor in the repairs and you’re looking at a money pit.
It’s impossible to fully assess the scope of work and potential problems lurking behind walls and under floorboards. Expect to shell out way more than you anticipated for essentials like electrical, plumbing, roofing, structural repairs, HVAC, and more.
Those dated kitchen cabinets you planned to paint over? Odds are you’ll need to gut and replace. And don’t forget about the high costs of necessary pros like architects and contractors. Sweat equity only goes so far.
2. Delays will drag out the timeline
If you’re picturing a few sunny weekends wielding a paintbrush, think again. DIY skills only take you so far. Once you start ripping down walls, issues like faulty wiring, water damage, asbestos, mold, and more tend to pop up, grinding projects to a halt.
Securing permits, contractor schedules, and inspections will also slow things down. Expect your move-in date to be pushed back many months, if not years in extreme cases. Hope you love living out of a suitcase!
3. It can strain relationships
The stress of living in a constant construction zone combined with ballooning timelines and budgets can strain even the strongest relationships. Be prepared for lots of takeout dinners and quick showers at the gym while your kitchen and bathrooms are torn apart.
The chaos and clashing visions of how things should be renovated can also breed resentment. And good luck keeping your bond strong while project delays drag on for ages.
4. Resale value may not pay off
Even if you don’t intend to flip your fixer, resale value matters. But there’s no guarantee your renovations will pay off years later. Tastes change. Custom upgrades you adore might turn off buyers.
Not to mention all the financial and emotional energy you sank into the project. In the end, you could have gotten more bang for your buck from an already updated home.
5. Safety and health hazards abound
Demolishing walls, floors, and ceilings opens up risks like lead paint, asbestos, mold, faulty electricals, and more. Prepare for nasty surprises that require pricey corrections.
Breathing in all that dust and fumes takes a toll too. Don’t be shocked when your DIY adventure ends in a trip to the ER!
6. Major systems could be failing
Behind those outdated finishes are the bones of the home – electrical, plumbing, roofing, foundation. No inspection fully reveals their condition. You may end up sinking thousands into replacing aging HVAC systems, rewiring the entire home, jack-hammering cracked foundations, and more.
7. Goodbye free time and sanity
For months or even years, your nights and weekends will be consumed with renovations. Say goodbye to hobbies, friends, travel and your mental health as you obsess over tile samples and Pinterest boards.
Don’t underestimate how draining and all-encompassing fixer-uppers become. Every room in disarray, contractors onsite daily, dust everywhere – it’s a special kind of hell.
8. Losing interest mid-project
In the beginning, fixer-uppers seem like an exciting challenge and creative outlet. But once the chaotic reality sets in, even devoted DIYers often lose steam.
Reasons for renovation burnout include: underestimating the demands on your time, budget, relationships, and quality of life; decision fatigue from nonstop choices; obsessing over minor details; feeling your lofty goals now seem out of reach; and impatience for the fun decor stage to arrive after months of grueling foundational work.
Before taking on a total gut job, search your soul. Will you still love this after a year of living out of boxes, endless noise and dust, and the relentless stress of problem-solving neverending issues?
9. Disheartening mid-project realizations
You may uncover deal-breaking flaws only after starting work, like: structural issues requiring total tear downs/rebuilds; unsuitable soil conditions necessitating expensive ground reinforcement; outdated, dangerous utilities needing full replacement; hidden mold and asbestos that need costly removal; or impractical floor plans forcing major compromises.
As stated before, no inspection reveals all downsides upfront. Be prepared for disheartening surprises once walls open up.
Still set on a fixer-upper? Go in armed with realistic expectations. Create a sizable contingency fund, find contractors you fully trust, and brace yourself for endless headaches. Understand this will take over your life and budget for the foreseeable future.
I suggest looking for a home already renovated to your taste – and keeping your sanity intact. But if you insist on a handyman’s special, just please go in with eyes wide open. The charming “before” photo doesn’t show the blood, sweat, tears and cash that come after.