A Guide to Buying the Right Fixer-Upper House: Bargain Vs. Bank-Breaker


Getting ready to move? Consider buying a bargain “fixer-uppper” house: this guide will help you choose the right home for your budget without purchasing a property that ends up becoming a nightmare and bank-breaker.

when buying a bargain house, make sure there are no foundation issues - cosmetic problems are easy to fixWhile the economy is showing signs of a comeback and housing markets across the country are showing strong signs of recovery, more and more people – who may have lost money when the housing bubble burst – are again viewing their houses as big investments, as well as their homes. If you’re on a budget, but you’re looking to move, then you’re probably interested in saving money every way you can. One of the most cost-effective ways to purchase a home is to choose a house that is in need of repairs or renovations: buying a fixer-upper. In many cases you can save money when you buy a fixer-upper house that is in need of some repair work and then hire a home improvement contractor, like CraftPro Contracting of Morristown New Jersey, to get the house in good shape, as opposed to simply buying your dream home ready-made.

If you’re looking to purchase a fixer-upper home then there are several things to be wary of. When it comes to cost-cutting and home buying there are many potential mistakes that can be made. Let’s avoid those mistakes. The list below can serve as a guide to picking the right fixer-upper house for your budget.

Consider The Following When Purchasing a Fixer-Upper

    a beautiful home is possible if you find the right bargain on a fixer-upper house

  • Location is important when it comes to buying a house. A considerable amount of the cost of your home could be due to the area in which it’s located. You can save money by choosing a less in-demand area, though be aware of what makes your location less desirable! It could be that the your fixer-upper house isn’t near any form of public transportation, or is in a neighborhood that suffers from high-crime rates. Don’t take your real-estate agent at their word – do your own research when it comes to location and prices!
  • One thing not to scrimp on is your surveyor or home inspector. When it comes to fixer-upper houses that need structural or cosmetic repairs, there are a lot of problems that can arise. Be aware that older houses may need new plumbing or electricity systems, but these are things that can possibly be fixed relatively easily. What you want to be looking out for are things like foundation such as subsidence, and recurring issues like moisture problems that cause mold and rot. These are problems that can be expensive to repair, so make sure the house you’re looking at is free from these issues.
  • No matter what your prospective fixer-upper may look like on the outside, it’s important to check that the foundation of the house itself is structurally sound. Choose a reliable surveyor and speak to the neighbors if possible – it’s likely that their homes were built around the same time as yours – maybe even by the same builder, and their homes could have similar problems. Remember that cosmetic renovations can almost always be executed by a specialty trades contractor in a cost-effective way, but purchasing and moving into a new home that is suffering from foundation problems like subsidence is going to cost you thousands in the long-run. This will be a bank-breaking nightmare.
  • Repairing and renovating your new fixer-upper home might mean you won’t be able to live there for some time. If this is the case for you, then you need to consider where you are going to stay in the meantime. This interim period can be costly and stressful, so think about where you can go and estimate how much this will cost you.
  • Be realistic when it comes to thinking about the cost of repairs and renovations for your fixer-upper. Make a list of exactly what home improvements you want done, and then receive at least three quotes for each project from builders, decorators and home renovators. This will help you prepare for the worst, and keep your costs to a minimum. Make sure you receive as many different quotes as you can so you can find the best contractor for you. Don’t settle for the lowest price, because not all contractors are created equal and you get what you pay for. Don’t be sucked in solely on price either – you want to find efficient and fast-working home renovation professionals so you can get busy settling in to your new home!

If you follow the advice in this guide you will be well on your way to purchasing a fixer-up home that is cost-effective, within your budget and – once the home is all fixed up – you’ll be living in a home you love and purchased at a bargain price. If your fixer-up home is in Morris County, NJ then contact CraftPro so we can help you identify the cosmetic issues and how much they would cost. We can also set you up with a home inspector who can identify any structural issues, and if the repairs that are needed are not within CraftPro’s specialty home improvements we can refer you to trusted contractors that can handle the renovation. Good luck with your fixer-upper home!

For Even More Advice: Check out the Comment Below by Eric Deeter of MorningStar Faux and Decorative Finishes. Check out their website and quality work!


This article was co-authored by Ella Andrews and Richard D’Angelo, CraftPro‘s founding owner and the publisher/manager of this blog. Ella Andrews is a dedicated blogger and writer who has a great passion for home decoration and home remodeling projects. She is continuously searching for sources of motivation and inspiration. She presently contributes articles primarily about home improvement and house maintenance themes, as this what inspires her the most.


Check out the Google Plus profile of me, Richard J. D’Angelo, President of CraftPro Home Improvements, and this article’s co-author, editor and publisher. You can also visit CraftPro on Google+ and join our community of home improvement, maintenance and renovation professionals.


Comment: Let Us & Our Readers Know What You Think...

3 thoughts on “A Guide to Buying the Right Fixer-Upper House: Bargain Vs. Bank-Breaker

  • ericdeeter

    My wife and I have purchased 3 fixer-uppers to live in over the years. The points you make are good. Here are a few comments to add from my perspective.

    1. Pay attention to location. You’ll want to be sure your all-in cost (after repairs) is in line with the value of the neighborhood.

    2. Hire a good inspector. Most fixer-uppers are sold as-is. Budget busting surprises are fun to watch on HGTV, but not good in real life. Find an inspector who will take time to be thorough.

    3. Do a gut check to see if you can stand to live in a construction site. Every time we lived in the places we renovated & my wife says, “Never again.”

    4. Set a realistic budget and find quality contractors. You can count on going over your budget. You’ll find upgrades you want to make and things you didn’t plan on. Also, before you sign a contract, check the references of the contractor. Talk to people he or she’s worked for. Ask how their project went.

    And be careful about DIY. I did all the renovation in our homes. And I learned a lot along the way. But DIY puts a lot of stress on your life as well as your family. I speak from experience. Count that cost before you decide to try to save money with DIY. In my case, I decided to start a business doing handyman work. We shifted to being a faux finish company. Now we specialize in cabinet refinishing. http://www.morningstarfaux.com.

  • Energywise

    Thank you for the information. There are houses in san diego which are sold as fixer upper but there are just minute fixes needed.
    I had made a deal in fixer upper last year and the person just spent 2000$ for the changes.
    You just need to be aware and search for houses.