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15 Questions to Ask before You Buy a Fixer-Upper

When you buy a fixer-upper, you may be in for more than you bargained for. However, if you are well prepared, the time, cost and effort will often yield results that many people merely dream of.

Never trust a home inspector who works for the real estate agent. The findings from a home inspector can often work against a real estate agent, so it is often imperative that you hire your own. Here 15 questions you ask a home inspector before you buy a fixer-upper.

1) What Is Your Budget?

Most whole house remodels that are considered fixer-uppers will require a substantial budget to fix completely. How much money will the house require to make it livable? Once it is livable, you can stretch out your budget over several years as you work on the house.

2) Is the House Classified As Historical?

Houses that are classified as historical houses often have a much different process when it comes to restoring them. Materials are often much more costly and you are limited to what you can do to the house to preserve its historical significance.

3) What Is the Weather like in the Area?

Consider the weather in the area. Furthermore, consider how you intend on living in the house. If the property is in a colder, northern climate and you have four young children with you, a fixer-upper may not be for you. However, if it’s just you and your fiancé, you may be able to make it work.

4) Does the House Have Good Bones?

Many parts of older houses are just irreplaceable. This may include trim work, doors, or even the very bones of the house – the two by fours that hold the walls up. Often, houses that have good bones are well worth the remodel as they can withstand long remodeling projects.

5) Do You Have To Deal with Lead-based Paint?

Lead-based paint can make even a small remodel very expensive as you have to follow safety procedures set forth by the state. You may have to hire a special crew that is certified by the state to remove the lead paint before you can continue your remodeling project.

6) Do You Have To Deal with Asbestos?

The same thing is true with asbestos. Asbestos was used historically for insulation, siding, flooring and more. Now that we’re aware of the dangers of asbestos, you will have to follow predetermined safety procedures set forth by the state – just like lead-based paint.

7) What Is the State of the Electrical System?

Take a good, hard look at the home’s electrical system. Older homes may not have current safety features such as grounding wires or GFCI capabilities. Although it is certainly true that a homeowner can probably do his own wiring, you’ll always want to hire an electrician to oversee your work and deal with electrical boxes. Always get a certified electrician to your house before you begin any electrical work. The fire hazard is too high to ignore it.

8) What Do the Current Fixtures Look like?

Take a look at the replaceable fixtures such as plumbing fixtures and electrical fixtures such as light bulbs, faucets and other salvageable pieces that may add value to the house by keeping them.

9) What Is the State of the Plumbing?

Every 50 years or so, a home’s plumbing must be replaced – especially if you have cast iron or galvanized plumbing. Connecting new plumbing to an older plumbing system may be more costly than just scrapping the old plumbing system and starting from scratch.

10) Does the Property Have Irreplaceable Landscaping?

If it’s possible, always plan your construction around irreplaceable landscaping features such as older trees. These things are irreplaceable and will add value to the home, property and community.

11) Is the House on a Good Foundation?

Foundation repairs can cost upward of $10,000 and require the entire house to be empty to fix. Always check on the condition of the foundation before you move in. Furthermore, check out the soil that the house is sitting in. Some houses were built with slab foundations that require $10,000 every 10 years. If it’s a fixer-upper, you can bet that the foundation will need work.

12) Are the Windows Rotting?

Check out the state of the windows. Are the windows rotting? Are the frames the shot? Sometimes, you may be able to save antique window frames by fixing the shop rather than replacing them with cheaper, alternative or aluminum versions.

13) Is the Roof in Good Condition?

Asphalt shingles are the most common roofing you’ll find on houses. These need to be replaced every 20 to 30 years. If it’s a fixer-upper, you can bet that the roof may not be in prime condition. Get a certified roofer to take a look at the roof and see if he can give you an excellent idea of what to expect on the road.

14) What Do You Have in the Mechanical Room?

Check out the conditions of the air conditioner, the water heater in the furnace. These are costly to replace and if they’re not in a livable condition, you may be biting off more the can to just to live in the house while you fix it.

15) Can You Use Modest Materials in Your Remodeling Projects?

Instead of fighting against the space that the house was designed for to get the look that you want, try working with the space instead. If this means you get less counter space, there may be a historical significance behind it. Purchase a house that speaks to you so that you can use the space the way was originally designed. It can be very costly to move around plumbing outlets, electrical outlets and more.

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