Are you ready for a fixer upper?

Installing laminate flooring

If you’re a fan of HGTV, you’re probably familiar with the reality shows that depict old, run down houses being transformed into spectacular, renovated dream homes. During an hour-long program you watch as demolition, redesigning, framing, drywalling, kitchen and bathroom installation, landscaping and much more are completed in a whirlwind of activity. Looks easy, right?

It might be! If everything goes smoothly and you’re prepared for some hard work, remodeling a fixer-upper can be a fun, exciting and rewarding process. But here are a few things to consider before taking the leap:

It pays to get dirty – One of the best ways to save money is to roll up your sleeves and complete some of the work yourself. Demolition (tearing out old cupboards or ripping up carpet), refinishing hardwood, painting walls, assembling new cabinets, etc. are all tasks that you can complete yourself, saving on labour costs. Is this something you’re willing to do?

Dealing with undesirable living conditions – This is if you plan on living in your fixer upper during the renovation process. Washing dishes in the bathtub and preparing meals in a microwave might get old quickly, especially if you have young children.

Unforeseen expenses – Any time you’re dealing with an older home, there is the possibility of a few surprises behind those walls. Even with a home inspection, between plumbing and electrical, foundation and flooring, you never know what you’re going to find! Having a back-up budget just in case renovations do not go as smoothly as planned or unexpected costs arise is always prudent.

Be wary of getting in over your head, financially. Sometimes the cost of renovations, combined with your mortgage and time ends up costing more than the home could ever be worth, based on size, neighbourhood, etc. Even if you plan on staying in the home for years, it’s wise to always be thinking of resale value.

Jennifer Birch

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