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Buying a House to Renovate: What You Need to Know

Most people renovate a house for one of two reasons: to turn the property into a place where they can live comfortably, or to increase the value of the home, and then sell it for a profit. In either situation, there are certain things about home renovation that you need to know beforehand to ensure that you invest wisely and the project goes smoothly. Here are seven important things that you should know before buying a house to renovate:

1. Renovations that are Required by Law

Before they can be inhabited again, some homes need renovations that are required by law. For example, if a home has been judged to be structurally unsound, or if it was used in a way that created a chemically toxic interior, you’ll almost certainly need to factor renovations for these things into your plans. Before investing in fixer uppers, it’s important to know of any renovations the law would require you to make, as they would become inevitable cost factors.     

2. The Legality of Planned Renovations

In addition to knowing about renovations that the law would require you to make, it’s essential to learn of any renovations that federal, state, or municipal law would prohibit. If you’re buying a house to renovate in a community that’s governed by a homeowners association (HOA), you would also need to know whether the planned fixes are permissible under community bylaws. Knowing these things upfront helps you decide whether a property is ideal for your plans. 

3. Realistic Time and Cost for Renovations

Whether you’re buying a house to renovate for your next residence, or you hope to profit by selling the residence when the work is done, your plans depend on how long the renovations will take, and how much they will cost. 

Before you finalize plans for moving from your current home into one that you’re renovating, or before you make financial plans based on the sale of a soon to be renovated home, contact A-List Builders. We’ll present you with a realistic timeline and cost analysis for the renovations you need.   

4. Home Value Vs. Cost of Renovations

When you’re buying a house to renovate, you naturally want to make a sound financial investment. To do so, you need to know three things: how much the house is worth now, how much it would be worth after renovations were made, and the cost of renovations. If the home will become your place of residence, spending more than the numbers say you should is more sensible than it would be if you planned to quickly “flip” the property for a profit.   

5. Which Tasks are Suitable for DIY Work

When they invest in fixer uppers to renovate the homes, and then “flip” them to earn a profit, many investors perform do-it-yourself (DIY) renovations to cut costs and maximize profit. While this is a good financial strategy, it’s important to stick to DIY projects that you have the skills to master. 

This is especially true for the renovating of essential systems in a home, such as plumbing and electrical. If you lack the requisite expertise, performing DIY renovations to these systems could be dangerous. It could also result in costly rework that lowers your profit margin.   

6. How Many Contractors will be Required

Prior to buying a house to renovate, some home buyers assume that a single contractor can perform all of the wanted and needed changes to the residence. In many cases, it’s true that only one contractor is required. However, it’s also common to need more than one contractor. 

For example, if the grounds of the property you buy need to be relandscaped, you’ll likely end up hiring a landscaping contractor, in addition to retaining a contractor to renovate the house itself. Knowing how many contractors are required helps you estimate renovation cost based on the cost of contractor services. It also helps you envision what managing the project will be like, as you dialogue with contractors.   

7. Qualifications of Prospective Contractors

The quality of your renovations depends partly on the contractors you hire. You should only consider contractors that have at least three essential qualifications: they hold a general building contractor license in the state of California, offer a guarantee of quality workmanship, and carry insurance that would pay for damage to your property that occurred during renovation work.

In addition, focus on hiring contractors that have demonstrated experience in renovating the type of residence you are fixing up. For example, if you’re buying a century home, with plans to restore its original condition, choose a contractor that has experience with this type of project.   

Contact A-List Builders for Renovations

Serving the greater Los Angeles area, A-List Builders is a leading home remodeling company that completes residential remodeling projects of all scopes and sizes, from installing new window treatments to fully redesigning interiors and exteriors. If you’re thinking about investing in fixer uppers and buying a house to renovate, contact us before you make a move. We’ll help you assess how much you would pay for renovations and how long the project would take.

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