Fixer Upper Deal Breakers

3 Deal Breakers When Considering a Fixer-Upper


Buying a house that isn’t move-in-ready to renovate can have various advantages. You can get an affordable property requiring little work before flipping or renting it. You may use your construction skills to fix this building, which can be more helpful than finding a complete one or building from scratch. However, some signs show buying an old house needing repair isn’t worth it. These deal-breakers can save your resources and prevent the stress of getting a home needing too much work.

1. Mechanical Problems

You can spend substantial sums when upgrading the electrical setup or replacing the furnace or air conditioner. If electricians didn’t build the property’s electrical box to support the volts or amps needed or used ancient knob and tube wiring, the issues could cause fires. Fixing them with all the outlets, boxes, and wires can cost over $10,000. Aluminum wiring can also expand and contract, loosening connections and causing fires. Buried oil tanks that funnel propane into the property may also leak or cost over $10,000 to remove.

2. Environmental Problems

Look for problems inside the house like mold, asbestos, wood rot, lead pipes, lead paint, or mushrooms growing on the floor and ceiling. You may also consider whether the property sits in a flood plain, is at the bottom of a hill, or is close to huge trees. Trees near the house can fall onto the roof, and creeping roots can clog the sewer line. You may also consider if high radon levels can seep inside the basement via crevices and cracks. According to the EPA, mitigation may be necessary if radon levels exceed four picocuries per liter (pRi/L). This process can cost $800–$2,000. You may also avoid a fixer-upper if it has pests like termites and carpenter ants. Critters living in the crawl space, attic, or inside walls can damage the property’s HVAC system, electrical wiring, and ductwork.

3. Structural Problems

If the foundation cracks, falls apart, or crumbles, the house may not be far behind. Depending on the property’s size and damage extent, you can spend $30,000 or more to fix foundational issues. Major additions, repairs, and remodeling without the relevant permits can also pose several difficult issues. Insurers can avoid covering such properties, exposing you to considerable losses.