Property prices are through the roof in some areas, so getting on the property ladder is not always easy. For young people, it’s even harder. Most of us have college debt to deal with. We may not have an established career yet, so our earnings are relatively low. The only thing in our favour is that we are not yet tied down with kids and a family to support, so buying a house is not an impossible dream.
Buying Vs. Renting
Buying is always better than renting. When you rent a home, you are at the mercy of someone else’s whims. You could be asked to move out at a moment’s notice and your landlord could decide to put up your rent without warning. When you buy a home, you have greater security and if you are lucky, plenty of capital gain after a few years. The hard part is finding an affordable property in a desirable area, which is why many young people look to buy a fixer-upper, with the intention of doing the work themselves. So, is this a good idea?
The Advantages of a Fixer-Upper
Fixer-upper homes are cheaper than regular homes. They might still be in a good neighbourhood, but because they need work, they cost less to buy. On the face of it, a fixer-upper is a great buy. You are often getting more house for your money. This could translate into extra bedrooms, a larger plot, more spacious rooms, and even a larger house in a better neighbourhood than your budget allows. But, and this is a big but, fixer-uppers are not an easy option.
Some fixer-uppers require modernisation and a few cosmetic repairs. Others are barely standing and would benefit from being demolished and rebuilt. How much work you are willing to take on will depend on your skill set, enthusiasm for hard work, and budget. Think very carefully about what it means to take on a fixer-upper before you commit to buying one. These projects are not for the faint-hearted and it is very easy to get sucked into a renovation that is more than you can deal with.
Learning New Skills
Unless you have the skills or are willing to learn new skills, the only way to bring a fixer-upper back into a habitable state within budget is by doing some of the work yourself. You are likely operating on a tight budget, which is why a cheaper house that needs work is more attractive. However, unless you can do some of the work yourself, it won’t be cost effective to buy a house of this nature. Paying tradesmen to do the work is costly, so bear this in mind.
There are certain skills that are too technical to learn from a few YouTube videos. Electrical work is one example. But, there is much you can learn by watching online tutorials and having a go. Anyone can pick up simple plumbing skills or learn how to work with wood. You will need tools, but these can be acquired as you go along.
Have a Budget
Unless you have bottomless pockets, you will be working on a tight budget. Sit down and plan out how much you can afford to spend on your renovation project. Work out what all aspects of the job are going to cost, starting with the most important work, such as fixing the roof or rewiring the place. It’s pointless buying a luxury kitchen if the roof has gaping holes in it or the basement floods every time it rains.
Enlist Help for Important Tasks
Decide what jobs you can tackle and start looking for qualified tradespeople who can work on the aspects of the job you can’t do alone. Look for people you can trust and don’t be swayed by a cheap quote. Ideally, read reviews and go with people who come recommended by people you know.
If possible, ask family and friends to see if anyone can give you a helping hand. You might be surprised to learn that your Uncle Tom is a dab hand at plumbing and is happy to help out. Always do as much of the dirty work as you can manage. Ripping out drywall, fixtures and fittings is no much fun, but it requires very little skill, so it is something you do yourself.
Start with the Essentials
First and foremost, make sure the fabric of the building is sound. The roof needs to be secure with no holes, the electrics safe, and the plumbing functional. Fix damp issues and get the house in a safe and sound condition before you move on to the next stage.
Work on Key Rooms First
With large projects, it is sensible to finish one or two rooms before you start on the rest of the house. This will give you somewhere to live and store your stuff while you work. Use plastic sheeting and other materials to keep this part of the house clean and dust-free. It’s not 100% effective, but you should be able to keep the worst of the mess at the door.
Once you have one or two rooms finished, start work on key rooms such as the kitchen and bathrooms. You can build a nice kitchen without spending a fortune if you do a lot of the work yourself. Look at ready to assemble cabinets from RTA Depot. Plan out the room on paper and work out what you want and how much it is going to cost. Look for online deals and make savings where you can.
Nice and Slow Wins the Race
It will take longer to achieve a lovely home if you buy a fixer-upper, but you’ll get there in the end. By the time you have finished your project, you will have a home that perfectly meets your needs and is worth more than you paid for it. And, if you are able to buy a larger property, it should last you once kids come along.