How to Get Started on Your Fixer-Upper

Source: iStock

Now that you have bought your fixer-upper, it might still be difficult to know exactly where to start. Depending on the size of the home, and if you are already living there, there are many places to consider starting, so choose carefully.

Non-Occupied Fixer-Upper

If you still have somewhere to live or are just fixing this home as an investment, you have more money-saving options because you can buy in bulk rather than room by room.

Walls: The first thing you should do is rip out the drywall or the lathe and plaster if the home is pretty old. If you know for certain that the wiring is solid and the walls are fine, don’t worry with this. Tearing out the walls is called “gutting,” and once your home is gutted, you can start your remodeling from the ground up.

Wiring and InsulationUpgrade or replace the wiring in the entire house for around $1,300. This is a good place to add more load so that you can have more appliances than the house was originally wired for. Next, insulate as heavily as you can and don’t forget to insulate around the windows.

Floors: If the floors are in poor shape or you just want to go with a different material, now is the best and easiest time for this.

Windows: Since you have the walls out, windows are a good money saver if the current windows are old or in bad shape. Plus, there are many different grades of windows that can fit any budget.

The remainder of the home, since no one is in it, can be done in whatever order you choose since it won’t upset anyone’s life.

Source: iStock

Occupied Fixer-Upper

There are a few schools of thought about remodeling when you are living in your fixer-upper.

The broad plan is to begin tearing up everything: ripping up floors, pulling out bad trim, choosing paint colors. People who like this method usually work quickly and like to spend every waking minute working on their home. If it doesn’t bother you to have materials strewn about, and portions of every room in some degree of disrepair, then start working. However, if you like to go slowly and maintain some degree of order, then there is another plan.

If the bedrooms need work, choose the one you want to be yours, most likely the master, and remodel it to where there is nothing more to be done to it. Reason being, after you are finished with your bedroom you can retire every night in comfort no matter how torn up the kitchen or bathroom or living room is.

From here, continue to remodel only one room at a time. No matter how tempting it is to start ripping down wallpaper or stripping paint, you have to resist. It is much easier to close off one room than to apologize to guests for multiple rooms being in disarray.

At some point, no matter how handy you and your spouse are, you will need some professional help. Don’t think that you are losing value by doing this. Matter of fact, don’t think that you are losing value by contracting all of it. This is nothing to be ashamed about. Having a fixer-upper means you are getting valuable property at a lower price because it is not in optimal condition. No matter who physically does the work, the home will be exactly how you want it to be, not to mention that it will be in better shape. If you happen to be to a point in remodeling your fixer-upper where you need some help, find a local remodeling professional to help you.

The kitchen and bathrooms are difficult, because when you begin to tear them up, you limit your capacity to live normally. However, these are the areas in a home that have the greatest return on investment, and the first place people look when buying your home.

Some people like to paint first, which is a fine strategy, since this is the same process as many home builders. However, during the process of remodeling, walls get bumped and gouged and scraped so it also makes since to save this until the end.

With kitchens, plan ahead for the day your sink will be out of commission. Don’t tear it out on Friday when the installer isn’t coming until Monday. Always be thinking about minimizing the time that any part of your kitchen will be non-working.

If there is only one bathroom, you better have a strong marriage. Bathrooms are tricky, so just like kitchen sinks, be ready to finish the job once you start.

Fixer-Upper Finish

The two camps basically come down to how many visitors you will have. If you will have many and don’t want them to see your home torn up in nearly every room, definitely doing one room at a time makes sense for both the entertaining house and the busy house. However, if you are good at finishing things quickly and you’d rather have the whole house painted than one room at a time, then this is probably the better choice.

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