How to Make Renovations Less Stressful After Buying a Fixer Upper

With the demand higher than ever in the San Diego real estate market, fixer-upper houses are quickly gaining in popularity. While it may look easy on television, home renovations don’t come without stress. To help make your fixer-upper project less stressful, we’ve rounded up some of our favorite tips.

From setting a realistic budget to knowing when to hire a contractor, this guide has everything you need to know to help make your renovation as stress-free as possible. Let’s help you start channeling your inner Joanna Gaines.

Start with a Plan

Whether you plan to live in the home yourself or flip it to sell, you’ll always want to start your project with a plan. Before you bought the home, you likely had an inspection done to determine the condition. It’s helpful to reference this as you go through and decide where to start.

It’s also easier to work on a plan for larger projects first. Let’s say you want to open up the kitchen and add a bedroom and bathroom upstairs. This could mean an addition, knocking down walls, and creating a new floor plan. Start with a budget and rough outline for these projects.

From there, you can work on your plan for the new kitchen layout, finishes, and details. The bigger work will require permits and possibly architects. It’s helpful to put your vision down on paper for these projects first.

While starting to make your plans come to life, it’s important to remember that fixer-uppers can always come with unforeseen expenses and delays. Build in a little extra cushion into your plan to allow for this.

Consult the Professionals

When you’re taking on a fixer-upper, you’ll almost always run into a project that requires a professional, no matter how handy you are. From electricians to plumbers and architects, some jobs are best left to the pros.

Before you get your project underway, start to meet with some professional contractors or architects. Depending on how extensive your flip is, you’ll have more peace of mind knowing your home will be done correctly.

In some cases, your home may only require small updates or updates you can do yourself. This will save you a ton of money. Just be sure to call a professional if you get stuck. 

Using a team of professionals will also help you feel more relaxed about the process. You’ll know which projects are being taken care of and what to expect. This includes using your realtor as a resource for referrals or questions you may have about resale value.

Set a Realistic Budget

Setting a budget is one of the trickiest components of any fixer-upper. While many updates will give you a great return on your investment, you also want to make sure you’re not over-investing. 

If this is your forever dream home, you may spend more to get everything you want. If this is a flip, you’ll likely try to go with updates that give you the best bang for your buck. It’s important to keep your budget realistic. This will do wonders for your stress levels.

If you set your budget too low, you may be constantly going over your budget. This will cause unnecessary stress. A more realistic budget with some wiggle room helps give you more assurance that everything is covered.

When you’re renovating a house, the last thing you want to do is run out of funds in the middle of a project. Running out of cash adds a lot of unnecessary stress to your plate. Instead of trying to complete everything at once on a limited budget, start small and stagger your projects.

Shop Around

When you buy a fixer-upper, it’s important to make sure your dollar is stretching as far as possible. This is where shopping around can save you a lot of money and stress. From new kitchen cabinets to contractors, shop around to make sure you’re getting the best price.

Stretching your budget will help make the process less stressful all around. If you don’t feel comfortable with a contractor’s price, get a second opinion. If you can buy cabinets wholesale or from a big-box store do so.

Do a little homework before you settle to make sure you’re getting the best price possible. When it comes to fixing a home, money is going to cause most of your stress. The less you spend on everything, the more room you have when something unexpected comes up.

Expect the Unexpected

When it comes to renovations, the only thing you can know for sure is that something unexpected will come up. The more you prepare for this mentally, the better. Give yourself extra time and money to allow for unexpected repairs and replacements.

Almost any construction project will have delays or hiccups along the way. Give yourself some room for this and save yourself some headaches. If you set your expectations too high, you may end up disappointed with how long things take.

When you have a contractor you can trust, this is also a huge relief. A good contractor is one that’s realistic with their timeframe and budget. They may even cushion a project to allow for extra supplies or materials. Give yourself a few extra weeks or even months depending on the scope of your fixer-upper.

This also helps you budget for carrying costs if you’re selling the home or living elsewhere during the renovations. If you’re living off-site, you can budget for an extra month in an apartment, for example.

Focus on the Layout

The layout of your home is important. From the flow of the main living areas to how many bedrooms you have, it’s helpful to decide on your layout before construction begins. Trying to add or remove walls later will get a lot more complicated.

Now is also a great time to think about what’s most important to you. If you have a large family with six children, bedrooms upstairs are likely key. For two people working at home, office space may be important. Your layout is where you can create a large kitchen, a big playroom for the kids, or a room in the garage for all your hobbies.

If you’re renovating a home to sell, picture, who might buy your home. A working couple, a young family, or retirees, may use the home differently. You’ll want your layout to be as neutral as possible. Improving the function and layout of your home will take a huge weight off your shoulders.

Research the Neighborhood

In San Diego, each neighborhood has its own unique appeal. While some homeowners need to live close to work, others need to live near certain schools. It’s important to do a little research on your local neighborhood before you start your renovation.

Whether you’re keeping the home or fixing it to sell it, it’s nice to know how your home compares to others around it. Do a little homework on what homes have recently sold for. Look for how much new construction is around and how many rentals are in the area. This will help you plan for how much money to spend.

It’s easy to get carried away while fixing up a home. If you’re going to sell your fixer-upper, you want to make sure your updates help the home sell quickly and for the most money. This is where doing a little neighborhood research can really pay off. If all the homes on your street, have four or five bedrooms, a two-bedroom home might be a tough sale.

If you’re surrounded by luxury homes, spending a little more on renovations can help you compete with other properties. Just make sure you’re getting the most for your money. Whichever projects you decide to do should boost your property value as well as your quality of life.

Tackling D.I.Y. Projects

If you’re handy, there may be some projects you can tackle yourself. From painting to changing light fixtures, any projects you can do on your own will save you money. If you’re not handy, the last thing you want to do is try and take on a project that’s over your head.

Taking on a do-it-yourself project should be something that doesn’t cause you stress. The last thing you want to do is start a project only to have to pay a contractor to finish it. Save yourself time and money by hiring a professional when you need to.

Anything you can do yourself is more money saved. Interior painting, changing cabinet hardware, and even replacing fixtures are updates that can be done yourself. The less you’re spending out of pocket, the more money you’ll have for other projects and materials.

Don’t Forget Outdoor Spaces

Your outdoor space in California is just as important as your indoor space. Whether you have a large yard or a patio, don’t overlook these areas. Now more than ever, it’s important to have space to get outside with friends and family.

When you’re renovating a property, make sure to carve out a budget for your outdoor space. You may be surprised by how much a new deck or new patio will help the resale value of your home. 

Outdoor improvements could be re-paving a driveway, fixing a pool, getting a new garage door, adding a deck, or creating an entirely new outdoor living area. Don't let your outdoor space become an afterthought. If you’re selling the home, this is even more important.

A potential buyer may love the inside of your home and then become overwhelmed by all the projects outside. Give these areas some attention and it will save you a lot of stress down the road. Whether it’s for your own family or for resale, outdoor improvements are always a great investment.

Curb Appeal Sells

When it comes to fixing up a home, curb appeal can go a long way. Not only does it help your house feel like a home, but it also adds serious value. Whether you’re fixing up a home to sell or for yourself, it’s important to make your home more welcoming.

Set aside a little budget for curb appeal. This is often an area you can save money doing a little work yourself. Start by removing old landscaping and dead plants. Add fresh flowers and newly potted plants to breathe new life into the home. If you’re selling the home, curb appeal is necessary to grab a buyer's attention.

For a less expensive update, add new seasonal décor such as a wreath and a welcome mat. These little touches will help your house feel more like home. 

When you get to the curb appeal portion of your renovation, you likely have the big stuff behind you. You can rest easier knowing the big work is done and now it’s time to put on the final touches. Keep a small budget set aside for this fun ending to your home renovation project.

Finding Fixer-Upper Houses for Sale

If you’re ready to tackle a fixer-upper, we’re here to help. We can help you find a great home in an amazing area that you can turn into your dream home. If you’re looking for an investment property, we can also help you find a great property to flip.

With so few homes on the market, it’s time to get creative and let us help you find a home that you can make your own. Fill out the contact form here to get in touch with our team of professional realtors.

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