With spring coming, this is the time of year ambitious house flippers and home buyers search for fixer-uppers to buy to refurbish this summer. Often looking for "the worst house on the block," the trick to finding a good candidate for a fix up is to avoid properties with problems that outweigh their cost of repairs. Here are ten tell-tale flaws that may move a potential property from your "Hot" list to your "Not" list.
Water Water Everywhere.
We're talking about un-managed water OUTDOORS here. If a house sits on badly graded land, water will always collect into puddles and pools, and find a way to get INDOORS and wreak its inevitable damage. Amateur home-fixers should avoid this problem, as fixing it incorrectly can compound the problem, as well as open the house to termites or other pests.
The Tell-tale Roof.
No amateur should attempt to fix a funky roof. A roof in poor condition can be the cause of major leaks that could affect the home's structure, interior ceilings and other areas. Moisture intrusion causes mold, which can cost thousands to remediate.
If These Walls Could Talk.
And they can talk if you know what they're saying. Wider cracks tell of more serious problems than smaller ones. Cracks in concrete often mean a structural deficiency that can cost time and money to fix. Long cracks along the margins between interior walls and upstairs ceilings tell of roof truss problems which are also costly and a serious indicator that the house should be on the "Not" list. Look for water stains on walls and floors, which may be signs of moisture incursions or storm flooding.
The Lonely House.
If a fixer-upper house has been un-occupied, either as a Zombie house, a bank owned property or one tied up in a probated estate for example, it is likely that it has had a minimal amount of maintenance. A house is like a living creature, and needs the kind of regular upkeep that its live-in owners normally provide to keep it healthy.
Having a Bad Air Day.
A home with central air is far more attractive to potential buyers than one with just window units, or no AC at all. But converting a house to central air costs far more that the HVAC unit. The time and expense of installing duct-work, registers and other elements of an AC system may make it a non-starter for the handy man.
Listen to Your Nose.
Water is a clever invader, able to get to unexpected places in a home undetected. Our one defense against this invasion it smell. If you can detect a moldy or mildew smell, it is an indicator that there is hidden water seeping in from the outside, or leaking from somewhere in the current plumbing system.
Room Layout: What Were They Thinking?
As they say, "Beauty may be skin deep, but ugly goes to the bone." An illogical home layout is something that most weekend warriors can't fix with a coat of paint. A good candidate for fix and flip needs good bones.
Outdated Essential Services
Bringing up to code an outdated plumbing or electrical system is a big job requiring the skill and training of an experienced plumber or electrician. Contractors years ago didn't have many of the materials and systems we currently enjoy when constructing a house. Worn out fixtures - faucets and drains, etc. - are just the tip of the iceberg. Depending on what needs replacing can be a game changer in a project.
The Bad-News Kitchen or Bath
Kitchens and baths are the costliest two projects any house-fixer can take on, and not just in money. Time is also a factor, and these kinds of repairs can add weeks or months to a project, perhaps putting it out of reach for a handyman counting on moving while repairs are being made.
The "As -Is" House
A house that's being sold "As-Is" isn't necessarily doomed. It just means that someone has already done your homework for you and come to their own conclusion. The seller is aware of some necessary repairs or updates and is unwilling or unable to fix them. Some bank-owned properties are listed "As-Is" because the lender is not able to speak to a house's condition. At any rate, it isn't a deal-breaker, but it does mean an interested potential buyer needs to conduct a thorough investigation for flaws like the ones we've discussed here.
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