Buying a “fixer-upper” -- that is, a home that needs anything from cosmetic touches to a major gutting and rehab effort – is a time-honored way to purchase a home that would otherwise be beyond your financial reach. It’s also the stuff of books and movies, however, given the unexpected complications that can arise.
Ask any homeowner who has bought a fixer-upper. You’ll probably hear that delays and problems are bound to occur. What was expected to take three months drags out to six, because the contractor’s schedule is full, the work required is more involved than originally thought, or some other unknown factor emerges.
Expecting delays is a necessary part of taking on a fixer-upper. Dealing with constant dust and debris, managing workers (or yourself, if you plan on doing all or some of the work), continually tracking and adjusting your finances, and schlepping back and forth between your existing abode and new home are all certain to exercise your mental as well as physical muscles. And, if you plan on doing most of the work yourself, you’ll need to be sure that you actually possess the requisite skills.
Of course, you may not be the only one signing up for this megaproject. Your spouse, significant other, or other cobuyer also needs to be on board with this project. If both of you are equally willing and eager, it doesn’t mean that problems won’t occur, but it will make dealing with them much easier.
If you’re not sure whether your head’s in the right place for all this, take the quiz below.
Rate yourself against the statements below. Total your ratings and see the scorecard at the bottom.
How did you score?
Overall score of 20 or higher: Your head is in the right place.
Overall score of between 15 and 19: You have more or less the right state of mind, but should be aware of areas where you scored low, and plan around them.
Overall score of 14 or less: Think twice about what you’re getting yourself into!
Whatever you decide, you might also want to check out Nolo’s other articles on “Affording a House.”