Thinking About Renovating a Character Home?
When you make the decision to renovate an older character home, know that you are signing up for something much larger than just an aesthetic upgrade. Despite how fast and flawless they make it seem on HGTV, in most cases buying a fixer upper is a financial, timely and emotional investment.
Although it is hard to resist the temptation of granite counters and gleaming hardwood flooring, one item that homeowners must come to grips with is this: if you purchased an old fixer upper for the sake of making it your dream home and you intend to stay, understand that much of your budget is going to go where you can’t see it - inside the ceiling and under the drywall. Spending money in the right places to make sure your home is safe, dry and solid will add longevity to your dream abode.
So, you want an open concept main floor and an updated kitchen? Awesome, we agree. But here is what you should REALLY fix if you want your older home to last:
1. Safety first. Start from the bottom up – look for any issues that may pose a risk to you, or anyone else who comes through your home. Look closely at the state of stairs, handrails, and electrical. Get a professional opinion and make the electrical upgrades necessary to ensure your home is safe for the long term – quick fixes and shortcuts will not cut it.
2. Support system - If you see any issues with your foundation shifting or sinking, do not ignore them. The longer you wait to address these issues, the harder (and more expensive) they become to fix. Like anything, if your support system falters, there is a whole other whack of issues that can, and will arise – so do it right the first time and save yourself and your home from another “renovation phase.”
3. Work from the outside in - Once again, these updates aren’t typically glamorous, but they will ensure greater comfort and less potential issues in the long run. Ensure all exterior components (think roof, eavestrough, exterior sheathing and foundation) are in proper working order and doing their intended job. Keeping moisture, cold and critters out is crucial to preventing other interior issues.
4. Think about the future - Yes, it may seem like a lot of money up front, but why waste money year after year by procrastinating the replacement of inefficient items? Make an investment that will give you immediate results and the payoff will come. Invest your money in windows, mechanical systems and GOOD insulation.
5. Don’t settle - While cosmetic upgrades are generally quick and painless, they will not give you the most bang for your buck. If you decide that it is time to fix up a kitchen or a bathroom, there is usually more than meets the eye – you guessed it: time to open up the walls and upgrade plumbing and electrical too. It is more mess and money than a facelift, but also comes with a greater pay off.
6. The pretty things - Once you have ensured your home is dry, safe, and efficient you can focus your money and attention on the fun things like fixtures and finishes. While it is nice and recommended to invest in quality products, aesthetic upgrades do not have to break the bank! Check out Update Your Home on a Budget for tips and tricks to keep your styling under budget.
While the lure of having an updated character home that you put your own sweat (and tears) into is hard to pass on, remember that a fixer up will ALWAYS be more work than you expect, and spending money where you can’t see it is some of the best money you will ever invest in your home if you plan to stay long term.