Top Warning Signs When Buying a Fixer-Upper Home

With the sheer number of television shows dedicated to home renovation and flipping houses, it’s no wonder that more and more people are interested in purchasing a fixer-upper themselves. In many cases, buying a house that needs a lot of work and a big investment can pay off in a short time—but all buyers, no matter how experienced they are, take a big risk when they sign on the dotted line.

If you’re thinking about purchasing a fixer-upper either to live in or to renovate it and put it on the market, read these warning signs and make sure the house you’re eyeing is free from any major defects before you take the plunge.

 

Hazardous materials and building supplies

Hazardous materials and building supplies

Many older homes contain both asbestos and lead paint, which are known to have the potential to cause serious health problems in people who are exposed to those substances. Removing these substances—particularly asbestos—can be very expensive and time-consuming and requires the services of qualified professionals. Before you purchase a fixer-upper, make sure that these renovations are within your budget if the home is known to have hazardous materials in its structure.

Water damage

Water damage

Water damage in homes can range in severity for minor pipe leaks to full-blown flooded basements or bathrooms. Use your best judgment when purchasing a home with water damage, but note that flooded basements can require expensive renovations and may be susceptible to more flood damage in the future. In addition, you should also consider having wood frames and floorboards throughout the home inspected if the flood damage occurred on the main floor or second floor, as the water damage can cause the wood to rot and become a potentially dangerous hazard.

Structural problems

Structural problems

A house with structural problems is a house you should probably avoid—unless you’re willing to shell out major money to fix it. Structural issues mean a house is literally on its way toward completely collapsing or falling over, making it both extremely dangerous and a candidate for condemnation. In addition, unless you get an absolute steal on the asking price, you’ll be unlikely to recoup the money you put into fixing a home’s foundation and structure. Common signs of structural problems including cracks in the brick exterior and parts of the home that aren’t level, especially in the corners.

Roof damage

Roof damage

Repairing and replacing a roof is pretty standard for most fixer-upper homes, but before you dive in, it’s important to check just how damaged the roof actually is. If the damage is limited to the shingles or tiles, it shouldn’t be an issue to replace them all with newer materials that are better designed to withstand the elements. However, if the damage goes beyond the roof itself and has entered the attic, insulation, and walls, the problem cost of fixing it may increase significantly.

Electrical issues

Electrical issues

Neither you nor your potential buyers will be interested in living in a home without reliable electricity and power in every room and every outlet. Unfortunately, older homes and homes in dire need of repair often have outdated and even broken electrical systems and wiring. Before you purchase a fixer-upper with wiring issues, make sure you know what type of work needs to be done. If the wiring is several decades old, it may need to be completely replaced, but homes with newer installations may only need repairs in certain rooms or on certain outlets.

Heating and central air

Heating and central air

Unless the home you’re looking at is located in a perfect climate where the weather is never hot or cold, you need reliable air conditioning. Like wiring issues, older homes often have significant issues with their HVAC, furnace, or central air units—and replacing those isn’t cheap. Before singing on the dotted line, do your best to find out the exact age of the unit and whether it’s feasible to apply a quick fix to any issues or whether you need to install a brand new system.

Unattractive lawn and landscaping

Unattractive lawn and landscaping

Whipping a lawn into shape can range from a simple weekend project to something that takes weeks or longer—especially if you want to add an outdoor entertaining area. One major factor to consider when landscaping a barren and ugly lawn is whether it has a tendency to flood or if there any harmful/toxic chemicals that get into the soil due to runoff. A beaten-down lawn with otherwise healthy soil and no major issues lurking underneath the bare patches shouldn’t dissuade you from making an investment, but a lawn that needs to be completely dug up just to get to the root of the issues should be a big red flag.

Outdated or drafty doors and windows

Outdated or drafty doors and windows

No matter how many coats of paint you put on a home’s exterior, it still won’t live up to its curbside potential if the doors and windows are cracked, fogged, warped, or just plain unappealing. Replacing all outside doors and windows is a major budgetary concern for fixer-upper homes, as you may be able to hold off on replacing certain smaller or less prominent windows, such as those in bathrooms or those on the back side of the home. However, the upfront cost of replacing aging doors and windows with more energy-efficient models can be a big selling point for your home and save you or your prospective buyer big money down the road.

Major renovation costs

Major renovation costs

Some homes are built using floor-plans that simply aren’t in demand in 2015. Long, narrow hallways, confined spaces, sectioned-off kitchens, and cramped bathrooms are all relics of a home design era from decades ago, but they’re common in many fixer-upper homes. In many cases, it can be difficult to sell a fixer-upper no matter how much work you put into it if the floorplan is simply unappealing to buyers. Always factor in the cost of completely renovating the interior of the home. Knocking down walls, expanding bedrooms and bathrooms, renovating the kitchen, and converting an unused bedroom into an office or man cave can quickly add a major bullet point to the home’s appeal, but you should always make sure you’ll be in good shape to recoup the cost once the work is finished.

Must-Have Plants for Your Garden

One of the biggest perks of the spring and summer seasons is enjoying the fruits of your labor if you plant and maintain a garden. Having a garden requires a fair amount of upkeep, but those hours are well-spent, as it not only adds beauty to your home’s outdoor areas, but it can also provide you and your family with delicious fruits and vegetables throughout most of the year.

If you already have a garden or are thinking about planting one on your property, consider adding some of these plants to your plot to get fresh produce on a regular basis without making a trip to the grocery store.

 

Tomatoes

Tomatoes

Tomato plants are one of the most popular and common additions to home gardens for good reason—they’re easy to grow and produce a delicious fruit that is extremely versatile as an ingredient, a snack, and a topping for sandwiches and burgers. Some of the best varieties to grow include “Better Boy,” Celebrity,” and “Brandywine,” as all three produce disease-resistant, juicy, and sweet fruits that taste great in the spring and summer.

You also may want to add small fruit-sized tomatoes for even easier snacking and to easily toss into salads without any required cutting or chopping. Bite-size tomatoes come in several different varieties and colors, with some of the most popular seed types including “Yellow Pear,” “Super Sweet 100,” and “Juliet.”

Cucumbers

Cucumbers

Adding just a few cucumber plants to your garden will provide your family with a huge harvest of a tasty vegetable that can be eaten as a snack, as part of an appetizer plate, or in salads. Cucumbers are easy to grow and thrive well in a variety of conditions, including dry heat in the summertime. In fact, they tend to grow so easily that they can quickly overtake your garden. Wrangle their vines by using a post or trellis to keep the plant growth under control.

Some of the most popular seed types for cucumber plants include “Marketmore 76” and “Salad Bush.” Late spring is the best time to plant cucumbers, so take advantage of this window of opportunity to enjoy their delicious fruits in just a few months’ time.

 

Basil

Basil

An extremely versatile and common herb, basil is an ingredient found in a huge variety of popular recipes and meals. It’s commonly added to sauces and soups to create a spicy and tangy flavor and can change an ordinary recipe into something truly memorable. Basil also happens to be one of the easiest plants to grow in a garden and is perfect for amateur or beginner gardeners.

Because basil plants are relatively small and won’t take up much room in your garden, experiment with several different varieties to find a flavor you like. Popular seed types include “Genovese,” “Sweet Thai,” a seed that produces an authentic Thai flavor, and “Mrs. Burn’ Lemon,” a seed that produces a sweet and tangy lemon basil flavor.

Beans

Beans

Beans are another easy-to-grow plant that thrive in just about any garden with minimal interference. Some of the best beans to add to your garden include navy beans, great northern beans, and kidney beans due to their flavor and nutritional value.

When growing beans, place them in containers and space them at least four inches apart. Harvesting beans at the right time requires practice and experience, and is best done when the pods have completely dried on the vine. Make sure that the pods are light brown—then, let the beans sit out for a few days to completely dry before storing them in a cool and dry place.

 

Carrots

Carrots

Carrots are among the healthiest plants you can include in your garden. They’re packed with fiber, manganese, niacin, potassium, and a whole host of vitamins that might be missing from your diet. In addition, they tend to taste the best when freshly pulled from the ground—and that means you’ll likely never have carrots better than ones that you grow yourself.

Like beans, grow carrots in containers and keep the seeds at least two to three inches apart. Shorter varieties of carrots tend to do better in gardens—especially if you haven’t yet developed your green thumb—so look for seed types like “Thumbelina” and “Danver’s Half Long.” Avoid letting your carrots grow for too long, as they taste best when harvested at a smaller size.

 

Broccoli

Broccoli

Not to be outdone by the nutritional value of carrots, broccoli is one of the world’s most popular superfoods and is a staple of many home gardens for good reason. It’s high in essential nutrients like calcium, iron, and magnesium, and a single serving of raw broccoli provides well over a day’s requirement of vitamin C.

Growing broccoli is best accomplished with one plant per pot planted 12 to 16 inches deep. However, beware of pests that can damage your broccoli plants, including the cabbage worm. To avoid having your broccoli stolen by these pesky critters, keep a close eye on your plants and check for butterflies that hover near them. If you see them, you may have uninvited guests on your broccoli. Use a lightweight cloth to protect them and remove any pests with your hand before its time to harvest.

 

Peas

Peas

Many people develop a dislike for peas as children, but there’s a world of difference between peas that come from a can and peas that come from your own garden. Fresh peas straight from the vine are sweet and tender and highly nutritious to boot. Like broccoli and carrots, peas pack a punch when it comes to providing minerals and vitamins, and they make the perfect additions to meals for growing families.

When growing peas, separate the plants by at least two inches in a pot that’s 10 inches deep. It’s best to grow peas in the early spring after the last frost and during the late summer as the temperatures begin to drop, as the plant struggles to thrive in hot weather.

 

Spinach

Spinach

Whether it’s eaten as the primary ingredient in a salad or used to complement a meal, spinach has a huge variety of uses in your kitchen. Like every other plant on this list, it also tastes best when eaten fresh from a garden. Plant it as a hedge to encompass your garden in the late summer and harvest it in the fall for maximum freshness and taste. Some of the most popular varieties of spinach include “Olympia” and “Verdil.”