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Old 02-09-2012, 12:13 PM   #16
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Fixer-Upper house


For those of us without a lot of money, doing what you're proposing is the only way to get started in owning your own home. As long as you have no problem understanding what you can learn to do and what it would be wise to hire done, you should be fine. And like Creeper said, it's gonna take time!!

Can you live with the bathrooms as they are for a while after they've been thoroughly cleaned? Is the kitchen functional in the interim? Is the place livable once it's all cleaned (even if it's not what you'd like it to be) and soundly constructed to begin with? If so, you can work your way through projects as you have the money.

We took a 7 bedroom house and over three years, repainted inside and out, rewired, converted a small bedroom into a nice sized bathroom, turned two bedrooms into one large master bedroom, cleaned, cleaned, cleaned, replaced or refinished all the flooring, tiled areas, etc. In other words, if you're not afraid of work, if you enjoy doing these kinds of things and are humble enough to know when you need an expert, you should be fine and will hopefully enjoy what you're learning to do and what you and your husband are building your home into.

Make sure you have a home inspection done before you buy it so you know what you're getting into and then good luck!

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Old 02-09-2012, 01:39 PM   #17
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Fixer-Upper house


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Originally Posted by locomote View Post
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?
Over the last 25 years, my wife & I have renovated every house we've lived in - as we've lived in them. Has it been a ton of work and expense, and a huge pain in the butt? Yes! But it was the only way we could afford to do it, and it has been worth it.


Regarding your questions...

Can you even get financing for this house you're looking at? If not, it's all a moot point anyway. Also, I can pretty much assure you that the pin-heads at FHA won't work with you with a low down-payment mortgage loan. So that might be your first obstacle.

Some of what you mention is easily in the realm of DIY work, provided you're willing to learn, and bust your butts to do it. In fact, painting rooms is almost a given when people buy a house. Other work you mention will probably need to be done professionally, unless you're really courageous!

Experience has taught me that you CAN live in the house as you're working on it. In fact, in my case, it has been advantageous because I've often had an hour or two at a time to work. I can walk upstairs and work for an hour, but I can't drive across town & work during that same hour.


Ask yourself several questions:
- Can you live in this house (basically) the way it is? Can you clean it up & move in, or do you need to do major renovation work first? If you can move in and temporarily live with it, that's a huge step in the right direction.
- Is this house where you want to live for at least 5-10 years? You won't be able to resell it during that time, because you'll always been in the middle of a project.
- Are you ready and willing to spend more money than you can imagine, and spend every spare hour, working on your house? The end result can be MORE than worth it, but it's going to be tough getting there.


It's a tough call, and all any of us can do is offer our thoughts. Good luck!

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