I hope it's okay to ask this, and I'm in the right place. I've read through most of your stickies and posted a little in the intro section.
Basically, my husband and I are dying in our 2 bed. apartment with 2 kids and want more space. We've looked at homes all over the state and found that we like the look of older homes, but the work and renovations they require are overwhelming. We have almost started new construction, but the areas we can afford in are far away from the city where my husband works (2 hour round trip is crazy when we can buy a 'fixer-upper' close by)
We found what could possibly be our dream home. The area is perfect. Schools are good. The yard size is great. And the exterior of the home and overall layout of the home is *perfect*.
I hate pretty much everything inside. Honestly, we'd need to replace/fix:
-kitchen cabinets and counter tops
-flooring basically everywhere
-possibly restain the fireplace mantel and railing
-add something to the fire place (like a glass door?)
-bathrooms completely remodeled
-probably the closet doors in the bedrooms
-a shower in one of the bathrooms
-the basement ceiling. It's cheap squares (??) as opposed to dry wall.
-the basement family area has a weird ugly built in cabinet that's not even level. It's not even a cabinet with shelving, it's just there.... It's part of the wall. I have no idea if it's even possible to do anything to it. But it needs to go somehow.
-all lights and ceiling fans (most have been removed- it's a bank owned) I'd like cove lighting (I think that's what it's called-sorry) in the kitchen and family rooms
-new deck (or more railings on the deck so the kids can't squeeze through? and sand and paint)
-there isn't central AC, it's a swamp cooler, which is OK because it's so dry here, but we might need to replace it eventually. And when we do can we get rid of the ugly vents on the ceiling?
And on top of all of that, we'd need all kitchen appliances and new paint everywhere.
So, I can paint. I'm willing to learn anything. My husband is not a DIYer at all. Not even a little bit. Which is fine, as long as I can do most, if not all, of this stuff by myself.
Assuming there's nothing majorly wrong with the house (foundation, roof, etc) is this too long of a list to be worth it? Can a beginner learn how to do these things well, so it looks good? Where do I start?
That's a lot for me, and I'm very experienced at a lot of the things on your list.
You're going to have to have this generaled out as a coordination between the subs that need to be brought in can be a tricky and daunting task.
It would take you a year to learn and do some of these things, and you do need an electrician, sheetrockers, and possibly a cabinetry professional, who don't really like working around DIY'ers to pull this off.
And with this large of an investment, you want it to be right, with no regrets.
I commend your enthusiasm, but this is a lot for anybody.
I am pretty handy, but that is a long list that will require a good bit of knowledge.
Ayuh,... Ownin' a house is a Life-long Diy endeavor,...
Prioritize yer list, 'n don't be in a hurry...
The list will change as the years, 'n projects go by, but the list will Never get any shorter,...
You think you may have found your forever home? Your husband can shave off a ton of time, gas and stress in his commute. You love the area. You love the schools. You love the property. You love the look and the layout of the home.
These are all things that CAN'T change over time. The other is stuff is largely cosmetic. Rome wasn't built in a day and neither do you have to fix it all up at once. Besides, its way better to live with some stuff for a while so you can get a really clear feel for what you would like.
If the building has "good bones" and the price is right I say jump right in to your labour of love.
There are some terrific people around here that will help you with every step in every task
Given the lack of DIY knowledge you say you and your husband have, I don't see any way you could ever do all that stuff. If you managed to, it would take years and some things probably wouldn't be right. There's also the strong possibility, depending on where you live, that you can't legally do things like plumbing and electric. I'm a fairly knowledgeable and experienced DIYer (even built my own house with just the wife's help), but I'd hesitate to take on what you want to do, especially if you intend to live in the house while doing it. Having done both, I can say that renovating an old house is way more work (and mess) than building a new one.
Have you had a home inspection?? If not, you should. There may be some things "majorly wrong" that would make this whole discussion moot.
There are so many (any there's going to be more) homes on the market out there that would require less work.
Not seeing what your looking for then change agents if your working with just one. There going to try and show you homes that there agency has listed so they do not have to split the commision.
I agree on the trying to live in a house while it's being remodeled thoughts.
Can it be done sure, will you be over welmed and give up in the middle of it and married after it's over? Maybe, Maybe not.
Can you do without a workable kitchen or bathroom for a week or more?
Even with my crew and all the tools that's what it takes. Those silly DIY shows sometimes have people confinced that they can gut and redo a bathroom in a weekend with just a screw driver and a hammer, simply not going to happen.
They never show all the things that always pop up when working on an older home, old steel or Quest plumbing that all got to come out. Rotted, crack, sagging floor joists.
Mold behind the wall. Outdated or installed wrong wiring that will need to be all redone.
This is the real life realitys of what us people that do this everyday find in every old home remodel.
Just a sample of some of the tools your going to need and know how to use for some of these jobs you have mentioned.
3, differant tylpes of pry bars.
Drywall knives in three differant widths
Toe kick saw (if subfloors need to come out)
Cordless Impact screw gun
Torch for soldering if you have copper pipes.
Crimping tool if you have Pex
Depending on what type flooring your going to do there's going to be differant type tools for differant floors.
I'm sure I left plenty of items off the list.
It would be much more do able if you have two people work together that had at least some DIY experiance.
Get a contractor in for some estimates, in addition to the regular inspection. then figure out whether you can a) afford to get it all done soon b) do it over time c) look for something else.
First of all we Realtors are independant contractors, not employees, so unless we do both sides of the transaction we have to split the commission regardless if the other Agent belongs to the same Brokerage or not.
Second, We agents also have bills to pay and familys to support. Way to often we give people our time, expert advice, gas for driving around, babysitting and it all amounts to nothing when the client simply decides to use another Agent. Did you tell the current agent that you changed your search location or other criteria, because we are not mindreaders.
Finally, not that anyone here did this, but I'm tired of people painting us all with a sleazeball paintbrush. I work hard for my sale. I'm honest and up front with everybody. I treat people with the repspect that they deserve after trusting me with the single largest purchase of their lives. Sorry to rant, but its frustrating.
Find an Agent who you connect with, then let them do their job
I will try to locate some of the other articles I have found for people living two hours from work because the housing was affordable. Not so much when you factor in the time and cost of getting from point A to point B. There is wear and tear on the vehicles and you! There is a trend to move in closer to work, or even change the jobs, and sink the commute money into a home.
When I lived in Manhattan, for example, everybody rolled their eyes at what I paid for housing. I didn't need a car, its insurance, or parking so that saved me $1200/month. I walked to work (10-15 minutes even on ice) so had no transportation costs whatsoever. Groceries were no worse than anywhere else. People, when they did the math, realized I was living cheaper than they were in the burbs. If I had not also been living on airplanes I would have been home in time to enjoy life.
Everything people are saying to you in this post is correct. You really want to get a detailed inspection before doing this and from an inspector you pick to look after your interests first---not the seller's and not the mortgage holder.
Then, I would build on the list you have and decide what you will be able to live with and what has to be fixed before you resent your purchase and wonder how you could have thought you could have lived in the place. With that list triage things into obvious necessary and cosmetic fixes and decide what you can and cannot do---with existing knowledge and that you are willing to learn but with a learning curve factored in.
Do not underestimate what it is to live in a home undergoing major renovations. You will one day be in a hurry, reach for a pair of dress shoes, and find them covered in drywall dust. It takes a commitment.
Finally, as I have mentioned before, make sure the contractors you are going to need are available to match the timelines you establish. People that are good and that work on old houses tend to be busy and may have to wait list you.
Yeah, that is a big list, but if the location and layout is what you want, and it is the only way you can afford it, I certainly wouldn't rule it out. It really depends on how determined (and how much of a hurry) you are in.
The kitchen is the big thing. If you are planning on blowing out walls, and moving major appliances, you don't want to be living there and may want to get a contractor to do it. If you are just replacing the existing cabinets and countertops, and doing it yourself, it will still take at least three times as long as you expect.
Bathroom is next. Also a big expensive project that requires a lot of know how.
I consider myself an intermediate DIY'er. I know how to handle power tools, but before I start a new project I spend a lot of time here reading and asking. I re-tiled our shower. Jaz or Bud could have done it in a weekend, but it took me a month of reading and research, and another month stopping to figure things out and to take my time to get it done right. BUT I DID IT! There is a lot to be said for that feeling!
No house, especially an older house is gonna be a perfect fit. If you have a strict budget, I suspect any home you find will have a similar list.
I would suggest you take a good hard look at that list again and separate the wanna's from the deal breakers. For instance, are the kitchen counter tops falling apart, or are they just not a color you like? Can you paint the cabinets rather than replace them? Can you live with them for a while until they move up your to-do list? And those ceiling tiles in the basement? If they are a drop ceiling, I wouldn't be in a hurry to replace them with drywall since it allows you access up there.
Like Creeper said, you don't have to do it all at once.
And like Bondo said, the list will never get shorter.
Three last pieces of advice:
1) Get an expert for plumbing and electrical.
2) If you think a project will take a week, it will take at least three.
3) If the floors are on your short list, do them before you move in. It's a lot easier without furniture in the way.
If you are looking for a fixer upper-to me it sounds pretty good-assuming the asking price is matching the amount of work required.
I say it is good because sounds like the work is largely cosmetic-get it inspected, but if the foundation, structure, roof, wiring, HVAC, and plumbing are in good shape, then doesn't get much more ideal than that.
Plan your projects to do them efficiently as possible, even if it means spending more money at once.
That said, don't expect to be able to just jump in and complete a kitchen or bath renovation smoothly with no experience. Like anything else in life, it takes practice and experience (as well as time spend reading and learning about it) to do it properly and efficiently. If you aren't used to the process, expect to be pretty stressed out at times.
Im not saying you shouldn't buy it or attempt some projects on your own-but just learn what you are getting into, and what is required. You may be better off hiring pros for certain aspects of the work, to ensure the work meets code (building a deck for example) and that the quality is good (drywalling a ceiling, for example)
Sounds like it could be a good deal for the price though. What you DON'T want is a place where you will need to replace all the wiring and foundation. Find a good home inspector as well.
Be aware as well of the cost of the work you are thinking of-compare it to the price of a more updated home. Go look at tile, flooring, paint, vanities, cabinets, etc, just to get an idea of what you are getting into.
Stay in your apartment until the work is finished. Trying to rehab & occupy at the same time would create your biggest obstacle.
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