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Old 09-08-2007, 02:08 PM   #1
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


I was looking at a property today and I wanted to get some experienced DIYers opinions. The house has potential, but requires significant cosmetic help.

1) The kitchen is too small and cramped, but the only thing separating it from the "formal dining room" is a small wall a short counter. Is it realistic to think about expanding the kitchen into the dining room?

2) The 1 1/2 baths need a complete overhaul - how much can I expect this project to cost if I do it myself and I'm not too extravagant?

3) The whole house smells like cat pee. Cleaning may require removing the carpet and refinishing the floors.

That being said, the property has an attached lot that will allow for future expansion of the house from 2 BR to 4 BR, and it is across the street from a park. The land is lovely and the house has potential - so my ultimate question is: IS IT WORTH IT?!

(edited to change my first question from "is it cost-prohibitive" to "is it realistic")


Last edited by janeansylvester; 09-08-2007 at 02:54 PM.
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Old 09-08-2007, 02:22 PM   #2
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


Whether it's worth it depends upon your ability to do the work or your ability to pay to have it done. I've never seen the house.
Knocking down a wall is not that big a deal, even a load bearing wall.
But the cosmetics are irrelevant in that they don't address the bones of the house. Before you get in too deep emotionally with this structure, have it looked at by a competent inspector. Find out that the structure is in good shape before you start painting the walls.
Where in upstate NY are you looking? We just visited Pine Plains last weekend. It's about 120 miles north of Manhattan.
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Old 09-08-2007, 02:27 PM   #3
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


I would have your real eastate agent do a CMA (comparative market analysis) and get an idea of what similar homes in the neighbourhood are worth. I also agree with the other Ron's advise on hiring a home inspector.
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Old 09-08-2007, 02:52 PM   #4
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


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Where in upstate NY are you looking? We just visited Pine Plains last weekend. It's about 120 miles north of Manhattan.
Ron
I am looking in Rensselaer County, but not Troy.

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Before you get in too deep emotionally with this structure, have it looked at by a competent inspector.
Thanks for the input Ron. I plan to have an inspector come in, it is required for a home buyer grant I hope to get. As for being emotionally attached - I love the green space around the house, but the house itself might sour the whole deal.
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Old 09-08-2007, 05:18 PM   #5
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


Jean: first get appraisal of PRESENT market value; second full inspection
third, quote from Servicemaster to totally cleanup house
4th get quotes for all the repairs you want to do
5th DO THE MATH

IF you are still on the plus side then great.
Now you can decide what jobs you can do to save and the cost of those you cannot or dont want to do.
Good Luck
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Old 09-08-2007, 08:59 PM   #6
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


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Jean: first get appraisal of PRESENT market value; second full inspection
third, quote from Servicemaster to totally cleanup house
4th get quotes for all the repairs you want to do
5th DO THE MATH
Ack! Math!
Sounds like you're leaning toward not-worth-it
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Old 09-08-2007, 09:13 PM   #7
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


Cat piss=Natures Miracle, works every time.
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Old 09-08-2007, 09:16 PM   #8
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


You may have been watching to much Flip this house on cable TV.

Know your abilities/ know what you are buying/ are they a match?

Work the #'s
you need to end up with the 3rd or 4th best house on the block. Run the comps/ can you do it and make what you want?

When it all feels good, and you do not need to ask anybody else, thats the one to start with.
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Old 09-09-2007, 06:16 AM   #9
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


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You may have been watching to much Flip this house on cable TV.
I don't have cable - but I have a couple of friends who are flippers. So you might be right.

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Know your abilities/ know what you are buying/ are they a match? ... Run the comps/ can you do it and make what you want?
I would probably wind up paying to have it done which is cost prohibitive.
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Old 09-09-2007, 10:02 AM   #10
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


Jean, No I am not saying "not worth it" tho it may turn out that way. All I am saying is there is a finite value to anything. No matter how great something looks it is only worth what you can sell it for Regards to this property; IF you can buy it way below is value, fix it up and still have the costs BELOW market value, SELL it for a nice profit in a very FAST fashion, then it is a wonderful thing. All I am saying is BE CAREFUL YUCKY THO IT IS DO THE MATH!!!!!!! . A good measure is to check out YOUR real estate market , find out how long houses are sitting b4 they sell and how much of the asking price they are bringing. Remember every day a house sits while waiting for a buyer YOU are paying for that construction money.
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Old 09-09-2007, 10:59 AM   #11
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


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IF you can buy it way below is value, fix it up and still have the costs BELOW market value, SELL it for a nice profit in a very FAST fashion, then it is a wonderful thing.
This is a living-in house, not a flipping house. For the grant I'm getting I have a commitment to stay 10 years.
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Old 09-09-2007, 03:05 PM   #12
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


Jane, sorry bout renaming you
however, same basic rules apply. Dont know you so if you have young children or plan to, then are the schools of the quality you want, neighbor where you want to bring them up and let em out to play? ETC ETC.
Now you kep saying GRANT a grant is FREE money, if this is the fact then that alone is a BIG GOOD thing.
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Old 09-09-2007, 03:33 PM   #13
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Now you kep saying GRANT a grant is FREE money, if this is the fact then that alone is a BIG GOOD thing.
Yeah, if there is enough funding, I could wind up putting 1/3 of the house price down with grants . Basically, they are deferred loans until you spend 10 years in the house. You have to live there, you can't rent it to someone else. It's only for first-time buyers.
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Old 09-10-2007, 04:29 PM   #14
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


That changes the whole picture.

DO NOT BUY A PIECE OF CRAP WITH GRANT MONEY!!!

Figure whats the max you can afford, then add the grant amount and get a house for that value.

You will get a much better house that you won't have to monkey around fixing it.

If your in it for ten years let market make you money (Equity) not your work.

Fixer-uppers are good for short term investment. If you do a fixer-upper long term you will not get your value out of it because of inflation. Also you cash will be tied up in the house and you will not be able to recoup your costs for ten years.
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Old 09-11-2007, 07:03 AM   #15
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Needs a lot of work - is it worth it?


I certainly don't agree with the idea that you should only fix up a house you plan to sell very soon. That's a strange mentality. Inflation won't at all ruin your improvement investments. Appreciation will amplify your improvements over the years. The days of playing the real estate market for year by year gains are long over. You'll get screwed doing that now, with how long houses are staying on the market.

I think using grant money to buy a house you plan to improve is a great idea. BUT, make sure you buy a house that isn't in immediate need of major overhauls. Assuming you're qualifying for a grant because you don't have a lot of financial resources, the last thing you need is to have a $10,000 repair suprise you shortly after buying a house.

So, make sure everything is mechanically and structurally sound, and that the house is safe. Then, consider the cost of the projects you'd LIKE to do in the next 5 or 10 years. I'd avoid any projects that HAVE to be done, unless you can specifically determine where the money will come from to pay for them (cash at closing, for example).

Be realistic about what you can/want to do yourself. And also be realistic about the time and cost of doing that stuff.

Taking out a wall to expand a room is not that hard, or that time consuming. Painting, tearing out carpet, refinishing floors, are all very do-able too, and don't require lots of money or skill.

However, renovating a bathroom, while approachable with some help from an experienced doityourselfer, will take time and money, and there will be a learning curve. I redid a small full-bath down to the studs, replacing everything, for about $3000 in materials and expenses. It took me about a week and a half, full time. I bargain shopped for materials, but used good quality stuff (tile, granite, porcelain, name-brand fixtures). No laminates or plastic tubs.

A kitchen remodel, on the other hand, will easily run you $10,000 for materials, and doing it yourself is really only for a very experienced and patient home-owner, with lots of time and money on their hands. Paying someone to renovate a kitchen can certainly cost 4 times that, depending on what you want the finished project to look like.

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