A Guide to Buying Fixer Uppers - Trinidad and Tobago Mortgage Finance Company Ltd.

Fri 25th May, 2018

Clyde Holmes, with his experience in the construction industry, has a wealth of knowledge to share when it comes to buying fixer uppers. For those of you who are thinking of purchasing a fixer upper, with a plan of repairing and remodeling to suit your needs, there are many things you should know before taking the big step. To help you understand the numerous factors involved, Clyde has identified some key factors you should consider.

Consult Professionals

For major projects it may be wise to hire an expert who would accurately  assess the property in its current state and advise  of the possibilities for renovation and the limitations of the home. For example, an architect can advise on the design prospects and identify the walls and structures that are load-bearing, which indicates whether they can be moved or not. Similarly, to facilitate a thorough assessment of the physical integrity of the home, a structural engineer would be best equipped to investigate whether the building needs major structural work. It’s ideal to uncover any issues and obtain estimates for the expense involved in rectifying these issues before purchasing. This can also help you decide if you’re better off finding a different fixer upper that requires less investment.

Other areas which require an expert include plumbing and electrics. Assessing these services properly from the start helps ensure you have no unpleasant surprises down the road. Knowing the general age of the components of the property can also help determine if things are near the end of their useful life and will need replacing soon.

Assess ‘Easy’ Versus ‘Challenging’ Fixes

Different categories of changes typically cost more than others. For example, the more manageable and affordable projects include painting; replacing doors or window;, installing new cupboards or cabinets; changing or installing new light fixtures; stripping or adding wallpaper and laying tile or carpet. More challenging and expensive fixes can include projects like foundation work, reroofing, replacing plumbing, putting in new sewer lines or electrical, building an addition (such as an extra room) or remodeling a kitchen or bathroom. It’s important to evaluate all the fixes that you foresee and understand the cost involved in implementing them.

Pest Inspection

Ensure you don’t have any unexpected surprises when it comes to bugs or pests. Ask the seller about any existing bug problems and consider bringing in an expert if you want a professional opinion. Issues like a termite infestation can be costly and tedious to rectify so it’s best to be aware from the outset so you can factor that into your buying decision and plan for it accordingly.

Communicate and Anticipate

Purchasing a property, especially a fixer upper which likely requires substantial investment, is not a decision that should be taken lightly. Don’t hesitate to ask questions and carefully assess the foreseen expenditure before making a commitment. Unanticipated expenses are quite common, so build a buffer into your budget to account for this. Finally, don’t forget to enjoy the process – it’s an exciting life step!


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