What are the pros and cons of buying a fixer-upper?

DSC03460I live in an old house in UpTown Waterloo. I’ve spent the last year and a half fixing it up, moving the kitchen, adding a bathroom, putting on a 375 square foot addition, replacing the facia where the squirrels got into the attic, replacing a floor, upgrading the electrical system, removing a dying tree that was planted in the middle of the backyard. (Who plants a tree in the very middle of a yard?) There is more to come. There is always more. The front porch is starting to rot. The driveway needs to be done. I need a garage…

But it’s a terrific neighborhood, and it’s only going to get better as time goes on, the LRT arrives, and the building boom continues in UpTown Waterloo.

I read an interesting article in the Financial Post the other day called “The pros and cons of buying a fixer-upper”. It resonated with me as I am about half way through my fixing up experience. I’ve learned a lot over the past year and a half: like it’s a good idea to have a schedule and pace yourself, it’s best to do one task at a time and work on it until it’s complete, it’s good to budget, it’s best to look to the future, get two or more quotes and keep contractors on budget…

But I think the most important thing is that the “bones” of the house have to be sound. If it was a good house to start with and if nothing major has gone wrong over the past 80 to 100 years then it is likely worth the effort.

But what are the pros and cons of buying a fixer-upper according to the article?

Pro: More room for upside. You are buying equity in your home as you fix it up.

Con: You might go over budget.

Pro: You can have it your way. It’s a blank canvas and you’re the artist.

Con: You might go overboard. You might over-improve or you might do something that only appeals to you and your lifestyle and thus have a hard time eventually selling.

Pro: It’s a cheap way into your dream neighborhood.

Con: It could wreck your relationship.


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