Why You Should Avoid A Fixer-Upper House

Estimated reading time: 9 minutes

Buying the fixer-upper home is great as long as you are prepared to pay money for renovations that may be hidden and very costly.

Our dreams can get crushed when we don’t have the cash to do what we thought we would, especially when buying a fixer-upper house.

Pros and Cons when buying a fixer-upper house.
Why you should avoid buying the fixer-upper house.

Hidden Home Expenses Behind Fixer-Upper Walls

Of all the people I’ve ever met, they said they didn’t feel that renting was helping them to build a financial future for their retirement years.

Although this is a wide-open topic that will bring in all sorts of controversy, it’s certainly a personal decision we must make on our own.

Acquaintances of ours in their early thirties are looking to buy an older home that is their dream home, but the catch is they want a fixer-upper.

They do plan to have kids as well shortly.

He asked me my thoughts about older fixer-upper homes since many homes in the UK are very old.

I was honest with him, but ultimately it was my opinion, and they must make their own.

I don’t want to be responsible for one of the most significant purchases of their lives.

They are currently renting and have never owned a home before, so it is like the golden ticket for them or anyone.

He’s not the handiest of guys and admits it, but he says he will find a way to finish it and take his time.

He loves watching HGTV and all of those fixer-upper home shows.

You know, the shows that make it seem like renovating a house is a piece of cake.

Yeah, right.

I’m not sure that I was that confident when I bought my flat, so I made sure both homes were in livable conditions, and when repairs were needed, they were just aesthetic.

That doesn’t mean that I was on the safe side either… read on.

Should You Rent Or Buy A Fixer Upper?

Renting has pros and cons, as does owning a home, but the most significant difference is that you MUST maintain your home.

When you rent or rent to own, you may pay condo fees which keep your yard and even your roof in tip-top shape.

This is not true when you own a home unless your home does come with a condo fee which some do, but the costs mainly take care of landscaping services only.

Prepare For Unexpected Home Maintenance Expenses

I’ve discussed home maintenance on the blog before and how you must be prepared for the added expenses as a homeowner.

What happens when you’d do anything to get out of renting and into your own home?

Even if you buy a fixer-upper house with dreams of renovations, the house seriously needs TLC.


Just because you think you are the DIY man or woman doesn’t mean you are.

I’m no pro, and there are things I won’t go near when renovating because, frankly if I can’t do it, why bother wasting my money and time?

Some people disagree and will give it a go only to patch up or hide shady work that they messed up because they no longer can afford to fix the mess they’ve created.

The Fixer-Upper House

When we bought our current home and my home in the UK, both were what I would consider in decent shape but could use some updates.

It didn’t mean we HAD to do it, but our dream was to fix our house so it suited our style.

Buying our Canadian house at the low price that we did helped our financial cause because it left us with money in the bank to start building our fixer-upper future.

This also meant we could renovate to bring the house up to date without over-pricing the house for resale, a huge mistake some homeowners make.

Don’t get upset when your over-priced, over-renovated house doesn’t sell or sells for less than what you put into it.

That didn’t mean that everything would go as planned for us.

Although things got in the way over the years, we still completed some renovations here and there. I’m still renovating over five years into owning our home, which is now mortgage free.

Sure, having no mortgage helps us to save money to revitalize our home but that’s easier said than done for some people.

It’s hard to sit around and watch your home crumble before your eyes when you have no funds to fix it up.

Avoid Rushing To Buy A Home

Rushing to buy a home due to personal circumstances is not always the best route to go, especially if the house needs lots of work and your wallet is empty.

Sure, it’s great to dream big, but when those dreams don’t come to fruition because something happens, such as job loss, health issues, or even childbirth can halt your plans.

We’d all like to buy a new custom-built or newly renovated older home.

It may be possible, but not everyone wants the cookie-cutter home, the flipped older house, or the home designed by a builder you have no custom control over.

The benefit of the fixer-upper is that you control what you want in the house.

So, if you bought your house for a great deal, it doesn’t seem so bad as long as you have the cash to back up what you want to do, especially if the house is in dire need.

Some people fail to do their homework regarding a fixer-upper and only later find out that what they had in mind to repair would cost them a fortune.

Since this was my first Canadian home purchase, if we sell and buy again, you can bet I’ll be doing more digging when it comes time to put an offer on another home.

I’ve learned plenty of new homeowner lessons over the years.

Renovations Cost Money

It’s not cheap to complete renovations, especially if you have to hire help, so it is worth your time to do your homework.

Friends of ours are only getting to do their roof after 15 years of living in a home that requires a roof.

They managed to have two kids in those years, and the costs set them back more than they thought.

Sure, they both have decent jobs, but I wasn’t going to ask them whether they budget or how much debt they have.

YES, it would be best if you also considered these factors before you jump into the fixer-upper market.

You don’t want to buy the cheapest materials known to man to fix up your house unless you are prepared to get what it’s worth.

When it comes time to sell, you might find those renovations are falling apart again, or potential buyers will spot work that was not done correctly or with the correct materials.

I’ve been to many open houses as a nosey neighbor because I can.

Looking around, I’m shocked to see how many people install the wrong parts or materials in their homes.

This only means the new owners must rip it out and start over, costing them money.

If you want the best bang for your buck, do the job right and pay the money to get the best materials you can or at least comparable to builder grade and above.

I’m not a massive fan of builder grade myself, and in renovating our bathroom, I can already tell you that I’m finding mistakes behind the walls and an uneven ceiling I must repair now.

Hidden Renovation Money Guzzlers

It’s hard to see what’s behind walls unless you tear them down.

This can lead to many problems and plenty more money to be spent.

This is another reason to consider all the potential problems when buying a fixer-upper.

Most people don’t care how much time and money you spend on what they can’t see because only what they see will sell your home.

Never forget this important tip.

You might have to spend $20,000 to rip out a basement reno gone bad to fix leaks or structural issues, but when it comes time to put your house on the market…no one cares!

If you buy a new home, you might get lucky with a new home warranty, but even so, mistakes will happen because homes are put up so fast these days.

Get ready to dig into your pocket because your new home just became a fixer-upper or part lemon.

Owning a new home or a home that is a complete fixer-upper is excellent to call your own.

However, you must ask yourself whether you are prepared for the financial storm if disaster strikes.

If you can’t repair your home, it could lead to your house falling apart around you, forcing you to sell for less than what you paid.

If you are lucky, breaking even depends on the state of the home, years of owning the house, and the housing market.

Discussion: Have you ever bought a fixer-upper home only to find there were significant problems when you went to renovate? What tips can you offer people who want to buy a fixer-upper house?

Top Recipe

Spiced Crumble Peach Pie

If you don’t already know, I have a second Facebook page called The Free Recipe Depot, where I share recipes from other Foodie Bloggers worldwide.

Once a week, I pick one recipe that has been submitted as my Top Recipe of the week.

Trust me when I say this is no easy task, as some foodies can cook up a storm.

This week I picked this lovely Spiced Peach Pie with Crumble made by Michaela from Affair from the Heart since peaches are in season and we are all looking for new fruit recipes.

If you love to preserve, going the extra step and canning peaches is a fun way to enjoy beauties all year long.

The work is worth it when you enjoy out-of-season fruit that you took the time to preserve. Enjoy.

Weekly CBB Posts

If you missed any CBB posts from the week, here is the list of posts you can catch up on reading!

You will notice I’m only posting 5-6 days a week.

You may notice this post will also be combined with my Saturday Weekend Review. More explanation to come soon!! – Mr.CBB

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  1. We bought a major fixer upper. It was a great deal and I’ve learned a bunch about fixing/installing/repairing things around the house. I’ve also learned that I’ll never buy a fixer upper again. It’s a great idea, and if I had more time, it would absolutely be worth it, but it’s just too much work for us to do on our own again. But, the low mortgage payments and small debt kind of make it worth it…

  2. I bought a fixer upper 2 years ago and I can confirm money goes quickly. We had a healthy budget for our renovations but blew right through it and went over budget. Both materials and labor are expensive. As you mentioned once you open a wall and find something wrong you have to repair it. It’s not a walk in the park like they show on HGTV. On the bright side our mortgage is low and major renovations are behind us now.

  3. Our old house was a fixer-upper and it definitely cost more money than we planned. We sold last year and only broke even after spending tens of thousands of dollars on the place. Never again =/

    1. Good point… some people can flip a house and make a fortune and others… well not so much. We are trying very hard to make sure we don’t spend more than we have to in order to get a proper return.

  4. Loved this post! Housing renovations are so expensive and never go “Best Laid Plans” that being said one of our houses did enable for me to be a stay at home Mom very cheap mortgage and it was a dump and a lot of work. I still don’t recommend that route to everyone I loved the fact that you talked it out…now about that tempting peach pie recipe….LOL!

  5. I like the idea of fixing up a house because you can mold it into your specific likings. You could do that with a house from scratch but it seems to be harder that way, but I could be wrong. Also, from what I’ve seen on HGTV and the comment above, I’d be scared of things happening from messing with the walls and even possibly hitting a pipe.

  6. Many of the people I have talked to regarding home buying prefer a brand new home or a newly renovated home. I think this may largely have to do with the fact that neither them nor their partner is handy. I really lucked out with mine because not only is he handy, but his brothers are quite handy as well. What’s even better is that they enjoy doing the renos and have quite the assortment of tools between them. So really all you’re paying for is the materials, and the beer. 😉

    We purchased a fixer upper because my partner is handy and also to save money. And another thing,tearing down drywall and putting up new drywall is HARD WORK.

    1. We aren’t grooming as many men and women these days to be “handy” because it’s more about technology. You are right most people want to buy the house and it’s move-in ready. Pity really because being handy is something that I’m very happy I’ve learned to be since being a young boy and having a mum and dad who were able to help me in this direction. Not all parents can.

  7. Yea…those fix it shows don’t show the hours of prep work and the worst of the mess. I gave up watching them as I have lived through a few renovations and know what it’s like. I don’t need to have it sugar coated for me.When we bought this house we knew it needed a lot of work. Our original thought was to do the kitchen first. That lasted until we actually moved in and got a good look behind the walls at the wiring. That was fast tracked to the Need list and everything else was pushed back to a want. It was seriously a fire hazard, the wiring was so bad!!! Even the Ontario Hydro inspector said he was very glad we were re-wiring the place. Hubby can do wiring and we had a permit from Ontario Hydro for the job so it was inspected and it did pass. It never fails to amaze me that so many people don’t do that. If your wiring isn’t done right it can (and does) cause fires that can destroy your house, not to mention the possible loss of life a fire can cause. The truly scary part is that a fire can smolder inside the walls for a long time before it explodes into a major fire engulfing the entire place……..
    If you are getting a fix it upper then I hope you do know what you are doing. not knowing can be costly in so many ways. Beyond the money issues if you don’t know what you are doing it is very easy to get hurt..badly

    1. That’s exactly my point. Many people think the fixer-upper is the way to go but once you start opening walls you might just find the money depletes real fast. I bet you won’t be doing that again.

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