Buying a Fixer-Upper: 4 Things You Need to Know

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Buying a Fixer-Upper: 4 Things You Need to Know

A fixer-upper often seems like the ideal first home. It has amazing potential; it just needs a little time and some minor repairs, right? However, the problem is that once you start the work, issues can literally come out of the woodwork. Every professional knows to prepare for the unexpected, but not every home buyer knows this. Fortunately, there are some things that you can avoid when you are looking to buy a fixer-upper.

A Fixer-Upper Is Not Built to Modern Specifications

Any older house that needs a bit of fixing has been built to different codes than what you are used to. You will find a lot of materials that would never be considered today, such as asbestos.

Asbestos is a flame-resistant material that is in a lot of older buildings, particularly in the ceiling. If the house construction was before 1981, then assume that it is present in anything that is not glass, metal, or wood. Trained specialists are necessary if you want to safely remove and dispose of asbestos, so factor that into your budget.

Another thing to be aware of is lead paint. While a realtor should disclose its presence, it only applies if the house has been tested for lead paint, which is not mandatory. Ask questions, and request a test as a condition of purchase.

Asbestos and lead paint are only dangerous if they are flaking, chipping, or dusty. Unfortunately, that will be the exact condition of the house, if you renovate. So, it is best to prepare yourself and know if your fixer-upper has asbestos or lead paint.

Check for Old Bones

Look at the roof to see if it is sagging; this is an indication of damaged roof beams. Examine the floor to make sure that it is level. If it is not, then there might be foundation issues.

Additionally, have a look in the electrical box. If it is a mess, then you might need an electrician to sort it out and fix the wiring.

Also, have a look at the ventilation system. If you are planning to do a lot of work on the house, then you will definitely need a good system.

Examine the House for Mold

Take note of the house’s smell when you are walking through it. If it smells musty, then see if you can find the source. Look for watermarks, swollen boards, and the signs of a cover-up. Look for things like trim and baseboards that do not match the rest of the house, as well as patches on the walls.

If you cannot find the smell’s source, then it is probably just old carpeting and furniture. Those things can hold old scents, and after you remove them, the house just needs a bit of airing.

Talk to the Planning Department

Finally, talk to your local planning department, especially if you would like to add anything to the house like another bathroom. It can save you a lot of time.

A fixer-upper can require a lot of work. Paying close attention while you are looking for one can save you a lot of money and trouble.