Stumbling upon a diamond in the rough and transforming it into a show house is a common fantasy, especially among DIY enthusiasts and people who love older character homes, but there can be a stark contrast between the dream and the reality if you don’t have a clear understanding of what lies ahead – and what can go wrong.
“There is no doubt that successfully completing a renovation project is an incredibly rewarding experience,” says Sandy Geffen, Executive Director of Lew Geffen Sotheby’s International Realty in South Africa. “But the success of the project depends on several crucial factors, most of which begin and end with you – the investor and property owner.”
Top tip: If you are considering buying your first fixer-upper begin your research with some candid self-analysis to determine whether it’s the right thing for you, and if it’s right for you right now.
The test If you can honestly answer yes to at least five of the following questions, there is every chance you will be able to tackle the project head-on and circumvent most of the nerve-wracking and potentially costly pitfalls.
Geffen says once you have made the decision to take the plunge, the next step is to find the right property. Searching online is a good place to start; it will give you a good idea of what is out there. However, it is then a good idea to make contact with an agent since the agent will come with knowledge and understanding of what such a purchase involves and requires.
Top tip: The ideal fixer-uppers are usually those that require mostly cosmetic improvements as the renovation costs will generally be much less than what they return in market value. Major structural repairs and upgrades can be very expensive and time consuming to complete with aggravations like delays more likely.
Three factors to consider when looking:
Whatever renovation is required, it’s usually most cost-effective and rewarding when you, as the homeowner, pitch in and get involved in the project, and not only in a supervisory capacity, so be prepared to roll up your sleeves and get stuck in. The pleasure and satisfaction you will experience upon completion, if all goes well, are a wonderful reward and the reason many people want to take on such a project. But remember that success is dependent on careful planning, including labour and materials and, very importantly, the skill, knowledge and professionalism of the team members that you choose to work alongside you.