Falling for a fixer-upper can be a wonderful thing. If you have the DIY skills or the money to invest, it can be the perfect solution. The saying “Buy the worst house in the best neighborhood can be the best deal.” is absolutely true, if you’re willing to put some time and effort into the home.

Here are some common concerns the Kemp Group hears quite often from buyers who are searching for the right home to customize to their needs, and the answers we offer. Don’t see your fixer-upper FAQs here? Contact us today and we’ll be happy to answer all your questions and help you search for the perfect upgradeable home!

How do I know whether it’s just a cosmetic issue?

The avocado green shag carpet is definitely cosmetic, but what about the cracks in the basement walls? We recommend a thorough and professional home inspection. The inspector will spend several hours on the house, from top to bottom, and give you a detailed report on exactly what they find. From the age of the appliances and HVAC systems, to the condition of the roof, foundation, and electrical system, you’ll get the scoop on every part of your potential dream home. 

Could we build up? Or out?

This is the time to check the zoning. Set-backs, story limits, usage limits, and historic districts can all put hard limits on your construction plans. Once you know and are comfortable with those limits, it’s easy to see if this fixer-upper still has loads of potential for your family. 

Can we open up the living spaces?

Consult an architect to ensure that your plans for an open-concept kitchen aren’t ignoring load-bearing walls or the utility vent stack. 

Can we rent out a floor/room/half?

Again, check the zoning and local ordinances, and find out if there’s an HOA. Make sure your plans to offset the costs of the fixer-upper by renting out part of it (or offering a guest room on Air BnB) is legal and allowed. You may also want to check with your insurance agent about the cost to insure a building that is part homeowner dwelling and part rental property. 

Are there other ways to offset the costs?

Some communities offer tax incentives for improving property value, and some improvements come with tax incentives, too, such as adding solar panels. Ask your REALTOR about those tax incentives in the community you’re considering, to see if there are ways to offset costs.