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Repairs v. Renovations

Work done on fixer-uppers falls into two broad categories -- structural repairs and renovations.

  • Structural repairs are changes you make to a property to bring it up to local health and safety standards. Such work can include foundation repairs, roof replacements, new electrical and plumbing system installations, and so on -- things that cost big bucks but add relatively little value to property. Ideally, you can get a credit from the seller to do some, if not all, of the necessary structural repairs. The less you have to take out of your pocket for corrective work, the more you have to spend on renovations.
  • Renovations increase a fixer-upper's value by modernizing the home. Remodeling an old kitchen, installing a second bathroom, and adding a garage are a few examples of major structural renovations that make your home more functional, more pleasant to live in, and more valuable when you sell it.
  • Cosmetic renovations (painting, carpeting, landscaping, and the like) also add value with far less expense and aggravation. The ideal fixer-uppers to buy are ones that look awful but simply need cosmetic fixes to look their best.