We did our homework in advance by researching online, talking to business owners, bank agents, and realtors who have experience with fixer uppers, and asking friends who have walked this path before us for advice.
Between their expertise and my family’s limited experience, I want to share with you some things you should consider before purchasing a fixer upper.
If you’re not planning on buying one anytime soon but know someone who is, forward this list to them so they’ll know what to expect, too! And if you have no desire to renovate a home, but are curious about the process, read on for a little peek at what goes on behind the scenes.
7 Things You Need to Consider Before Purchasing a Fixer Upper
1) The project will cost more than you think – count that cost.
Renovating a piece of property isn’t cheap. And even if you have the world’s best renovators helping you, something unforeseen will arise. So make sure you get quotes and bids from construction workers before you close on the property, then have additional money – at least 30% more than the overall projected cost – set aside to help cover those unexpected expenses.
“For which one of you, when he wants to build a tower, does not first sit down and calculate the cost to see if he has enough to complete it? Otherwise, when he has laid a foundation and is not able to finish, all who observe it begin to ridicule him, saying, ‘This man began to build and was not able to finish.’” Luke 14:28-30
2) Renovating a fixer upper is not glamorous.
From late nights and sweaty projects, to having no AC in summer and no heat in winter, renovating a fixer upper is anything but glamorous. The photos you often see online only show the beginning and end – they don’t tell the story of the messy middle. They don’t show the stress, the exhaustion, the hard work and bruises that took place in-between the photos.
For example, pictured above is a small section of the commercial property we spent a year renovating. You only see these photos.
I still see framed up walls that weren’t insulated, a Saturday crew of family and friends in old clothes, late nights of moving a shop light from room to room before lights were installed, and two little girls who learned how to paint woodwork, lay flooring, and do their schoolwork in a dusty corner with a construction crew bustling around them.
3) Renovations will take more time than you’d planned.
Even if you hire contractors to oversee the entire project, there are going to still be decisions to make and things to do yourself. Renovating a fixer upper will consume more of your time than you think it will.
4) Your entire family will be affected.
Whether they’re actively helping you with your fixer upper or taking care of things at home while you’re working on renovations, everyone living in your house will be affected by this project.
5) Plans will need to be changed mid-stream.
Due to unexpected issues that are practically guaranteed to occur, you’ll likely either need to go over budget, pause your project, take on additional renovation tasks yourself, or change desired materials and plans to less expensive options.
Sometimes, you’ll need to do all of the above.
6) You will grow as a person.
I’ve mentioned before that challenges strengthen and refine us. Renovating a fixer upper is one very large, self-induced challenge. To complete the renovations, you will have to persevere through exhaustion, budgeting constraints, project setbacks, and a thousand more unforeseen issues.
These issues will cause you to either grow bitter or grow more mature as a person. You choose which one.
7) The outcome is unpredictable.
Plans will change and problems will occur. Things will cost more, take longer, and look differently than originally expected. While we can visualize the end result, there is no way to guarantee the final product.
It’s possible that reading these points made you realize renovating a fixer upper isn’t for you. But, if after reading this article, you still want to renovate a house or business, you are probably a visionary person who isn’t afraid to get your hands dirty.
If you can look at what appears to be a dump to everyone else and see incredible potential, if you (and your loved ones) don’t mind taking risks and doing hard things, and if you’re excited about the possibility of doing something that improves your local community, then a fixer upper may be the perfect project for your family!
I’d love to hear: If you have experience with renovating a home or business, what do you think others should know about what to expect?