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Old 10-21-2009, 09:27 AM   #1
ericdwong
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Default Anyone buy a fixer upper to live in?

Another house thread Searched but didn't find too much so here goes. Wondering who bought a fixer upper to live in (as in- NOT a rental or a flipper house).

In my quest for my first house, I'm looking at possibly getting a fixer upper. There's one for sale that I'm considering, it's in a great location (most the houses nearby of the similar age/size go for almost double the current asking price), it has a stone exterior, good size and 2 car garage all hardwood floors, 3/4 acre lot, 1950s. Current owner bought it in 08 and started gutting it, but then either ran out of $ or time/energy and put it back on the market for $50k less than his purchase price. It needs a kitchen, bathroom and walls. It's only about 1400 sq feet, so it isn't huge- but I'll be living alone.

I've seen other foreclosure houses/auctions and some of them were complete disasters- mold growth everywhere, structure was leaning etc. This one seems solid- and is not a foreclosure or REO.

Choice A says: Forget about it, it's too much work, construction projects always run over budget and time and the current owner bought it for the same intentions, what makes you think you're going to do better? Just find a house you can move right in.

Choice B says: Go for it, as long as the roof, foundation are sound and there's no water problems-it's a good opportunity for some sweat equity with the current owner already taking a hit on the price and a good experience even if things don't go as planned. I can move in with my parents (who don't live that far away) for the time being until it's somewhat habitable- work on it little by little. Since its already stripped, I'll be able to see exactly what is going on and there will (hopefully) be no surprises. I can also design it the way that I want since there's nothing in there. Buying an already rehabbed house- you don't know what the quality of the work was or what was rigged or just patched over.

Other factors:
I've helped various home improvement projects at my parents house, but I've never done something on this scale. I'm handy (One of my projects I've removed and torn open the trans on my C5 to replace the synchros inside- on jackstands by myself), have the tools. The Home Depot and Harbor freight and 84 lumber are about a mile away. I know contractors, either friends or ones my relatives have used in the past locally for their investment properties for the non DIY stuff.

So, if you've bought a fixer upper, I'd love to hear the story behind it- and hopefully pics, before and after!

(oh yeah, IB4 NNIL8R )
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:44 AM   #2
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Well, as you can see, the foundation has a little rust and I am currently experiencing some water leaks but I have my temporary roof up until I can get it fixed. I figure I will get started on it soon.
Click the image to open in full size.

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Old 10-21-2009, 09:46 AM   #3
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there's a fixer-upper for sale three lots down from me:
http://www.realtor.com/realestateand...8960?source=hp

one of the remaining original homes in the area. Nice one acre lot, surrounded by much better homes. My suggestion to the new owner is to live in this house as you add huge new edition. You could double your money.
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:48 AM   #4
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have a knowledgeable 3rd party inspect this house before you buy. I'm suspicious, not too many folks can afford to take a $50k loss. how do you know it's now $50k less than he paid in 08???
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:56 AM   #5
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Gary79 View Post
have a knowledgeable 3rd party inspect this house before you buy. I'm suspicious, not too many folks can afford to take a $50k loss. how do you know it's now $50k less than he paid in 08???
Yeah definitely- I had one done a few months ago on a house I walked away from. There goes $300 (but it probably saved alot of headache...)

I know because that's what the public tax records state the purchase price is and what my realtor said the owner was willing to take... I agree, seems kinda wierd, but who knows what happened. Maybe he lost his job, maybe he's really that rich and just ran out of time...
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:58 AM   #6
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Quote:
Originally Posted by Mike Mercury View Post
there's a fixer-upper for sale three lots down from me:
http://www.realtor.com/realestateand...8960?source=hp

one of the remaining original homes in the area. Nice one acre lot, surrounded by much better homes. My suggestion to the new owner is to live in this house as you add huge new edition. You could double your money.
Wish house prices were that cheap around here Anything that has 1 acre or so is usually at least $120k+ even if the house is a complete dump and needs to be demolished.
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Old 10-21-2009, 10:01 AM   #7
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Default I did this one

Click the image to open in full size.

I found this one that had had a chimney fire in the attic and some damage to the 2nd floor, and water damage to the 1st floor ceilings and carpet. On the photo the roof on the end where the new chimney is was replaced, but the dormers were not damaged.

I had the roof, framing, electrical and sheetrock done by a builder friend. My son and I did a lot of cleanup, smoke odor control, new ductwork, and TV telephone and sound wiring in the damaged areas.

I wasn't living there but it was only a mile by water from my house, so I could go there every day and work after work and weekends. I have less than 1/2 the value of the house now invested in the house. It is the best investment I ever made, I expect I can double my money if we decide to sell, water front property around here has not lost any value.

Problem, we like the house so much we don't want to sell it. We have turned it into a family lake house for us and my two sons to use. It has a pool and and is on a quite backwater of the Arkansas River. Last weekend there were 400 plus Pelicans out in the water behind the house on their migration to the gulf.

LJ
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Old 10-21-2009, 10:02 AM   #8
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Agreed, get an inspection and assuming that the house is OK and worth the money, figure on putting around $20k materials and sub-labor up front. That should make the place livable and you can do most of the stuff yourself. You're going to want to buy a few tools that you don't likely have like a good mitre saw, table saw, air-powered trim nailer, etc.
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Old 10-21-2009, 10:05 AM   #9
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From what you said a fixer upper could be a good idea.

Do you have someone to help you occasionally, installing cabinets or other 2man jobs?

I'd recommend a home inspection. The inspector can't see through walls but he will make a thorough inspection of everything he can see and test. It's usually worth it so you do not get any nasty surprises.

Have you got the financial resources to fix some unexpected things?

Home Depot has a "bid room" for bigger projects. Look into that right at the beginning. It can save you some money.

HGTV and DIY network have plenty of diy shows.

Make sure the price is right. In AZ prices collapsed so $50K off isn't much. Spend some time looking at other fixeruppers and recently rehabbed homes.

You make an excellent point of quality of rehabs. A neighbor is doing repair work specializing in redoing what others did poorly.
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Old 10-21-2009, 10:55 AM   #10
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If your single it is ok.

If your married and WANT TO STAY married to the same women, DONT DO IT.


been doing this as investments for 20 some years now.

Budget twice as much time as you think. and twice as much money.

If you can pay to have someone do part of the project that is great.

Dust will cause you to get sick. get an air cleaner

Many times getting a loan on a fixer upper is just not possible. Talk with your banker.

make a TIME BUDGET of Six months or less. and STICK TO IT. Get it done, or it will never get there.

Good Luck
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Old 10-21-2009, 10:59 AM   #11
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I did. I've been slowly refurbing the house. Renovated one of the bedrooms last year, put in a new floor over the summer and am getting a new roof next spring. Need to paint the house too but that can wait until Spring as well.

As long as you can deal with the house being in constant construction mode, you'll be fine. My girl likes doing all that stuff, so she's renovated both bathrooms as well. We probably won't make all our money back from fixing it up, but when it comes time to sell we'll be able to sell it faster I'd imagine.
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Old 10-21-2009, 11:29 AM   #12
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Sure did, we live in it right now and four years later still a project but we LOVE our house!

It's a 200 year old stone and log farm house, 2600 sqft on 10 acres.

Here are a few of our projects (all of which are 90% done after four years lol):
This is our fireplace room (the last useable one out of 5). We had to rip down layers of paneling and lathe on the walls, rip down the ceiling, which was full of mouse poop, and cover up that horrid white brick!
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

After new drywall, paint, trim, electric for our tv, cultured stone, engineered hardwood:
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

Downstairs Bathroom, somewhat before (pedestal sink already ripped out and new vanity cut down and fitted):
Click the image to open in full size.
During:
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.
Granite top and copper vessel, waiting for me to find a copper faucet that I like:
Click the image to open in full size.
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Old 10-21-2009, 11:39 AM   #13
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Our living room had the original cedar plan flooring, and the house has settled, so the room dipped about 5" over 14 feet. Good thing was when you dropped something, you always knew where to find it!

Beginnings of a subfloor:
Click the image to open in full size.
Plywood and insulation down, prepping old floors for self leveling mud:
Click the image to open in full size.

Carpet
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

And then for giggles, our master bedroom. Still very much a work in progress, and no before pictures but we had to take a wall down and make our bedroom out of two 13x16 rooms.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.
Don't mind the mess lol.

Our next project of a 40x80 pole barn for our vehicles and a new roof is going to be starting in two weeks. That's something we will have the pro's do
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Old 10-21-2009, 12:09 PM   #14
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryMJones View Post
Click the image to open in full size.

snip

LJ
That's an awesome looking/sounding house!

Quote:
Originally Posted by Cybercowboy View Post
Agreed, get an inspection and assuming that the house is OK and worth the money, figure on putting around $20k materials and sub-labor up front. That should make the place livable and you can do most of the stuff yourself. You're going to want to buy a few tools that you don't likely have like a good mitre saw, table saw, air-powered trim nailer, etc.
Yeah there were some other "fixer upper" houses I saw- the roofs were leaky and had alot of water damage on the inside. Definitely a no no. My parents house, one of the tiles in the bathroom shower/tub started leaking- and the water seeped through, tiles started coming off, created a 10'x10' area of damage on the wall and floor, had to remove the siding, replace most the wall, studs, part of the sub floor and joists- it was a mess. This is where my motorcycle jack came in handy to raise the cast iron bathtub though. After that experience, I won't mess with water damage.

I actually have all those already- accumulated over the years of odd projects. Mitre saw, table saw, air trim nailer & stapler, sander, angle grinder, sawzall (very useful!!), trailer for hauling lumber/plywood

Quote:
Originally Posted by zonie77 View Post
From what you said a fixer upper could be a good idea.

Do you have someone to help you occasionally, installing cabinets or other 2man jobs?

I'd recommend a home inspection. The inspector can't see through walls but he will make a thorough inspection of everything he can see and test. It's usually worth it so you do not get any nasty surprises.

Have you got the financial resources to fix some unexpected things?

Home Depot has a "bid room" for bigger projects. Look into that right at the beginning. It can save you some money.

HGTV and DIY network have plenty of diy shows.

Make sure the price is right. In AZ prices collapsed so $50K off isn't much. Spend some time looking at other fixeruppers and recently rehabbed homes.

You make an excellent point of quality of rehabs. A neighbor is doing repair work specializing in redoing what others did poorly.
Yes, I have friends and family for 2 man stuff.
Finances I'm still have crunching some numbers, and yes always allow for more than the budget allows... currently I have enough for a healthy sized down payment, but instead what I may do is do a 203k rehab, put a small down payment and have the reserve cash left.

He bought it in early 08 so that's when the housing market had not totally bottomed yet.

Quote:
Originally Posted by AU N EGL View Post
If your single it is ok.

If your married and WANT TO STAY married to the same women, DONT DO IT.


been doing this as investments for 20 some years now.

Budget twice as much time as you think. and twice as much money.

If you can pay to have someone do part of the project that is great.

Dust will cause you to get sick. get an air cleaner

Many times getting a loan on a fixer upper is just not possible. Talk with your banker.

make a TIME BUDGET of Six months or less. and STICK TO IT. Get it done, or it will never get there.

Good Luck
Great advice! I'm not married, nor do I even have a serious GF, so the spouse thing is not an issue.

Quote:
Originally Posted by dangerz View Post
I did. I've been slowly refurbing the house. Renovated one of the bedrooms last year, put in a new floor over the summer and am getting a new roof next spring. Need to paint the house too but that can wait until Spring as well.

As long as you can deal with the house being in constant construction mode, you'll be fine. My girl likes doing all that stuff, so she's renovated both bathrooms as well. We probably won't make all our money back from fixing it up, but when it comes time to sell we'll be able to sell it faster I'd imagine.
That's certainly a consideration too, I'm doing this for a place to live, not to make money (though that certainly would help) as the primary goal. That's really cool your girl likes doing that too- I need one who's competant at demolition and home improvement
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Old 10-21-2009, 12:19 PM   #15
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if you're up for the work or have someone to work on it for a good rice go for it. As said above, have an inspector check it out. have money saved up and be sure and try to collect on the obama stimulus money if it's still available and it's your first house. I advise to move into your parents and work on it till it's done or very very close to being done.

i bought a smaller 2bed 1 bath here for a good price. 50+ yr. old brick home. i was going to do a quick "fix-up" but like said above it turned into more than I expected and more time working on it on weekends and after work.

No regrets though, everything came out well and I learned a lot! (electrical work, sheetrock, flooring (no peel & stick) tiling around tub, working with cooper pipe, plumbing, made some cabinet doors putting up crown/baseboards (not like that's hard though))
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Old 10-21-2009, 12:27 PM   #16
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NOt on purpose but after we moved in we replaced all the flooring , carpet , tile and wood, repainted the whole inside, had desk and book shelves built in my cave , and added a covered patio in the back. O also repalced the counter tops and all the appliances in the Kitchen .
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Old 10-21-2009, 12:46 PM   #17
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Daughter and son inlaw just bought one over a 100 years old. Has the side porch where the horse and buggy would pull under to go in the house. It has the horse hair plaster walls, no Insulation. 3 fire places. Nothing I would want to tackle at my age. More power to them
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Old 10-21-2009, 01:36 PM   #18
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[QUOTE=ericdwong;1571891924]That's an awesome looking/sounding house!

Thanks for the compliment. Here's a better photo. Sorry I don't have a lake side one in photobucket.



Click the image to open in full size.

Concerning comments about water damage in several post's. This one had a major fire in the attic and lots of water as a result. But the owners insurance company immediately had crews in ripping out carpet and drying out the house.

We had to replace carpet throughout the house, but because of the quick action in getting it dried out no water issues. We were even able to save the hardwood laminate floors on the first floor. They came unglued in a couple of places but we were able to inject glue and fix that. If we were to put it on the market I likely would replace a couple rooms of flooring.

My point is water damage that is immediately taken care of is not a problem. It's the roof leak, or hidden plumbing leaks that have been ocurring for months causing other problems to watch out for.

LJ
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Old 10-21-2009, 01:46 PM   #19
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Quote:
Originally Posted by WS6 TransAm Girl View Post
Our living room had the original cedar plan flooring, and the house has settled, so the room dipped about 5" over 14 feet. Good thing was when you dropped something, you always knew where to find it!

Beginnings of a subfloor:
Click the image to open in full size.
Plywood and insulation down, prepping old floors for self leveling mud:
Click the image to open in full size.

Carpet
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.

And then for giggles, our master bedroom. Still very much a work in progress, and no before pictures but we had to take a wall down and make our bedroom out of two 13x16 rooms.
Click the image to open in full size.
Click the image to open in full size.
Don't mind the mess lol.

Our next project of a 40x80 pole barn for our vehicles and a new roof is going to be starting in two weeks. That's something we will have the pro's do
That dog is freakin me out man!

Last edited by slewfoot1956; 10-21-2009 at 01:48 PM.
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Old 10-21-2009, 09:13 PM   #20
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Quote:
Originally Posted by LarryMJones View Post
Concerning comments about water damage in several post's. This one had a major fire in the attic and lots of water as a result. But the owners insurance company immediately had crews in ripping out carpet and drying out the house.

We had to replace carpet throughout the house, but because of the quick action in getting it dried out no water issues. We were even able to save the hardwood laminate floors on the first floor. They came unglued in a couple of places but we were able to inject glue and fix that. If we were to put it on the market I likely would replace a couple rooms of flooring.

My point is water damage that is immediately taken care of is not a problem. It's the roof leak, or hidden plumbing leaks that have been ocurring for months causing other problems to watch out for.

LJ
I agree, if it's immediately taken care of, that's fine. Some of the foreclosure houses are really sad- the electricity is turned off, and the sump pump does not operate meanwhile the house is flooded 'cause of heavy rain. So then you have mold growing out of every surface. Yikes!

I go back on Friday to see the house, this time I'll bring the camera, and snap some shots. The walls are already stripped so that may be a plus as the demolition was already done

Sometimes not sure if having a large yard (compared to what i'm usally looking at) is an advantage- it's more to mow. I remember as a kid I hated mowing the 2 acres my parents had. I was looking closer to 1/10 to 1/4 acre to keep down the yard work If you're wondering, why think about this project if I'm worried about yard work- well I don't mind projects where I can see progress. Yard work just seems like it's never ending! The lawn grows back in a week in the summer, leaves everywhere in the fall, etc etc.
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