The Top 4 Things to Fix First in Your Fixer-Upper - As the famous saying goes, “You get what you pay for!” This holds true not only in life itself, but also in real estate. Many buyers are drawn to the low price of a fixer-upper. But once inside, these homes can be intimidating. Often times, a fixer-upper has a laundry list of repairs that need to be made, and deciding where to start can be frustrating, especially on a limited budget. That's why we've made this list, in hopes of helping you prioritize which renovations need to be made first:
1. The electrical system
Aside from any emergencies (which should always be taken care of first!), your primary concern should be that your fixer-upper has a fully-functioning electrical system. After all, an improperly-wired or damaged electrical system can lead to electrocution or fire! Sometimes it's obvious that there is a problem with the electrical wiring. For example, the circuit breakers may trip often, or the lights may dim when too many electrical outlets are being used at once. But other times, the homeowner may have no idea that a problem lies inside their walls until it's too late. That's why we suggest you hire a licensed electrician for an inspection. It will cost you a few hundred dollars, and depending on what he finds, the repairs and replacements could cost you a few thousand dollars. That may seem like a lot of money, but it’s a small price to pay for a safe place to live!
2. The basement/foundation
You need to make sure the base of your home is safe. Structural problems in the basement (or in the foundation if your home doesn't have a basement) can lead to shifting and cracks upstairs, as well as rotting and bowed beams or termites down below. Most of these problems are caused by water, so be sure to keep the basement or foundation dry. If you suspect that you have structural problems, contact a licensed contractor to inspect the home.
They'll usually do this for free, and only charge you if repairs are needed. Knowing that the base of your home is safe will make you sleep easier at night upstairs!
3. The roof and gutters
Ceiling rot, insects, electrical shorts, mold, pooled water near the home's foundation, and leaky downspouts. These are all problems you don't want to deal with when it comes to your new home. But if your roof and/or gutters need to be repaired or replaced, all of these situations can become a reality. There are some warning signs that your roof or gutters may be damaged – like dampness or stains on your ceilings, saggy ceilings, broken or missing shingles, green algae on your roof's exterior, dented or discounted gutters, and pooling water near the downspouts. If you see any of these signs, we suggest you contact a professional roofer to come out and access the damage, and give you an estimate on the cost of the repairs. Depending what they find, you could end up paying anywhere from $1,500 to $15,000.
4. Exterior Walls
The base of the home, the roof, and the wiring inside the interior walls have all already made an appearance on our list, so the next most important part of your home are the exterior walls. If you see any paint or siding that is pealing, cracking, or blistering, these issues need to be addressed sooner rather than later. Moisture can enter the home much quicker from the basement or roof, so that's why those portions of the home are higher on our list, but water can still make its way through the siding if it doesn't have a weather-tight seal. This can cause wood rot or attract insects like termites, so don't overlook the exterior walls during your initial assessment of the home.
After you've covered these four main areas of concern, then you can start to focus on the “pretty stuff” – like replacing old appliances, repainting interior walls, or remodeling the bathrooms, but make sure you take care of the items on this list first!
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