The Many Perils Of A Fixer Upper

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perils of a fixer upper

You may be tempted to purchase the dilapidated old house on the corner of your street only to be told that it will turn into a money pit, you’ll never be able to sell it on and that there are better ways to spend your cash. However, there is something about that property that you are drawn to.

It can’t be the leaky roof, the shaky foundations or the sloping floors. You have a vision and can imagine the amazing family home that you could turn it into. While others may be looking at this ramshackle building as a waste of money and a financial disaster waiting to happen, you see it through more rose-tinted spectacles. This could be your dream home.

While you could be right, you shouldn’t enter into any purchase without knowing the facts first. You need to investigate if there are any covenants on the house, you need to ensure that you are legally allowed to carry out the work you wish to do, and you must ensure that the numbers stack up.

While you aren’t purchasing this piece of real estate as a direct investment, you don’t want to be left wallowing in the depths of negative equity once your scheme of works has been completed. You need to make a list of jobs that you expect to carry out and price them up accordingly.

Kitchens and bathrooms are more expensive than you think so if you aren’t sure how much they are, don’t simply guess. Head out to some showrooms and price up the kitchen cabinets and bathroom suite that you want.

Don’t forget a 10% contingency should any unforeseen surprises crop up and ensure that you stick to the budget you have in place. If you are still keen to plow ahead with your fixer-upper plans, take a look at the perils that may await you should you choose to purchase this type of property.

Structural Safety

If the property you are planning to buy is old and hasn’t been lived in for a few decades, the chances are that the structure has seen better days. The foundations and external framework of a property need to be sound before you can even begin to think about venturing inside. While it may look alright from the roadside, you need a surveyor or engineer to take a more detailed look. If the property has suffered from subsidence, you need to ensure that the costly work of underpinning is carried out. If the roof is leaking and causing damp to permeate throughout the property, you’ll need a new roof and a damp course.  Sometimes you might need a specialty roof and a great place to look into this is at .  This is expensive work and will eat into your renovation budget. However, it is also necessary to ensure your renovations can be signed off by building control once complete.


If you’ve ever been into the cellar of an old house and you have a touch of arachnophobia, you know just how terrifying this dark and damp room can be. In a home that is over hundred years old, these critters can be more numerous, more widespread across the property and bigger. You will need to call in a company like Natura Pest Control to get rid of the wasps nest in the attic, the rats under the floorboards or the termites in the timbers. Vermin can damage the integral fabric of the home and need to be removed as soon as you pick up the keys.


It’s not unusual for homes that are old to have been disconnected from the electricity, gas or water supplies. It would be even more of a headache if the humble abode was never connected to them in the first place. You’ll need to contact the gas works, the electricity board and the water company to come out and lay new pipework to your pad. This can take time and be costly. It will also prevent the tradespeople that you employ from carrying out renovations inside the property. A surveyor should flag this up prior to your property purchase, so it’s vital that you get in touch with the utilities companies well in advance of your transaction completing.


The older style properties that often end up being the sorts of fixer-uppers that are available on the open market tend to have the oddest room configurations. You may have a bedroom off another bedroom or a shoebox-sized kitchen for a four bedroomed property. This configuration of rooms was once apt for a certain lifestyle. However, in the twenty-first century, this is not conducive to comfort or convenience.

You may need to knock down walls, extend upwards or outwards or build partitions. If you are contemplating creating a dream family home, you should be aiming for a large open plan living space and a big kitchen dining area where culinary creations can be cooked up, and social gatherings can occur. The kitchen is very much the heart of the home, and you should make it the hub of yours.


Older properties tend to be blessed with larger plots. Even though the rear yard currently looks like a scene out of ‘The Day of the Triffids’, you should cut back the foliage, uproot the weeds and clear the space. You’ll be surprised just how much external square footage you have. By spending some time on the garden area, you could create the perfect space for al fresco dining, enjoy exploring the world of horticulture and even grow your own vegetables. Gardens can be used all year round if you design them appropriately. You might want an orangery or conservatory to enjoy the views your property affords. Whatever it is you can do with your external space, exploit it and don’t let the area go to waste.

Your fixer-upper can be your dream home. While pitfalls and perils do lie in wait, if you remain alert you can overcome these barriers to create the ideal home for you and your family.