Should I Buy a Fixer Upper House?

You Ask, We Answer: Should I Buy a Fixer Upper House?

You’re ready to buy a home in Connecticut, and your online home browsing has reached a fevered pitch. You may be wondering if buying a “fixer upper” house is right for you, and for good reason: fixer uppers can be a great solution to finding a home within your budget! There are lots of things to consider when buying a fixer upper, however, and the more information you have as you search for your Connecticut home, the better. Read on for the pros and cons of buying a fixer upper house, and don’t forget to talk to your Calcagni Real Estate agent about whether or not this home buying option is right for you.

What constitutes a “fixer upper” house?

Thanks to a proliferation of home renovation shows and social media feeds peppered with “before” and “after” videos, fixer upper houses often conjure up images of walls being torn down to the studs or rooms being reconfigured completely. But that’s not always the case, and that can impact how you view a fixer upper. It can also affect your budget.

Cosmetic fixes

For some homebuyers, a dated home signifies a fixer upper house. While the home is structurally sound and it won’t need a new roof or hot water heater anytime soon, the interior may appear dated and in need of a refresh. In this case, the fixes are considered “cosmetic” and while making changes can add up, they’re certainly far less expensive than a home that needs a full overhaul.

Cosmetic fixes can range from removing wallpaper and painting to replacing countertops and finishes, or re-tiling the bathroom and replacing lighting. The good news? Cosmetic fixes can be done over time, and that makes them much easier on your wallet. Plus, depending on how handy you are, you may be able to take on many of these updates on your own.

Structural fixes

For other homebuyers, a home that needs structural changes constitutes a fixer upper house. Structural changes are more in line with what those home renovation shows or social media accounts promote: Walls torn down, rooms reconfigured, and big ticket items like HVAC systems being upgraded, electrical and plumbing fixes, and more.

Structural changes can add up quickly, as they require professionals to complete them. In addition, you may need to file permits to undertake structural changes, and may also need to work with an architect to ensure your home will be structurally sound during the work, and for as long as your house is occupied! However, if you love the neighborhood and the location of the house and feel that making such structural changes will truly make it your own, it may be well worth it to undertake fixing it up.

Gut renovation

The most dramatic of all fixer upper situations, the full gut renovation is the most time intensive–and the most expensive. A gut renovation may include all of the changes of a structural renovation, plus large undertakings like installing new kitchens and bathrooms. For some homeowners, a gut renovation will leave only the foundation and exterior walls standing, and they’ll start from scratch on building the interior to suit their needs.

As with structural renovations, a gut renovation will require hiring professionals to achieve a safe and functioning home, and that should be accounted for in your fixer upper budget.

The pros of buying a fixer upper house

There are many pros to buying a fixer upper house, the first being that doing so can be less expensive than buying new construction. Existing homes, especially older homes, may also offer details and character not found in new homes; if you are someone who loves intricate woodwork or trim, for instance, an existing home can be a great option that combines old charm with the new updates you provide.

Another pro of a fixer upper? You may be able to buy in an area that would be out of reach if you bought brand new, so you’d reap the same benefits of living in your desired community with the option to update the home as you or your family need.

Lastly, a fixer upper offers you the ability to make the home truly yours–in your style, with the layout and flow that makes the most sense for your lifestyle. Whether you choose cosmetic upgrades or more extensive renovations, your Connecticut home will truly be a reflection of you and the way you live!

The cons of buying a fixer upper house

Of course, with every pro there is a con, and the same holds true for buying a fixer upper. While your pre-closing home inspection may have alerted you to odds and ends that needed to be repaired, there may still be surprises along the way, especially if you begin making structural changes or start a gut renovation. Suddenly, all the modern amenities you want in your “new” home may require more amperage, for example. Or you may discover that the electricity is wonky due to the way it was wired. In short, one of the cons of buying a fixer upper house are the surprises that crop up along the way. Keeping a “rainy day” emergency fund is always a good idea when it comes to fixer upper houses!

Too often, budgets balloon when taking on extensive work in fixer upper houses. Between fluctuating costs of materials and unexpected issues cropping up, it’s important to leave yourself wiggle room in your budget to cover these costs.

Lastly, stress can be a major con of taking on a fixer upper home. Living under construction can be a major strain on your daily life and your relationships–and if the project runs long, that can compound the issues. If you have to inhabit the space that’s being fixed up, try to get out of the house as much as possible. This can be as simple as walking around the neighborhood several times a day, or getting out and away from the mess on the weekends.

Do you have more questions about buying a fixer upper for your Connecticut home? Talk to your Calcagni Real Estate agent! Our agents understand the local market better than anyone, and we work with respected vendors across the state–so we can help answer your questions about whether or not a fixer upper is right for you and your lifestyle.

Happy house hunting!


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