Palmer Harned, Realtor®
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What to Look for in a “Fixer-Upper” {Guest Post}


Today’s guest post is courtesy of Andrew Blate, owner of Beautiful Home Services, LLC. BHS is a highly rated and award winning remodeling company specializing in painting, drywall, carpentry, tile, bathroom and basement remodeling, flooring, and kitchen remodeling. BHS is licensed in MD, VA, DC and has been a leader in the industry for over 10 years.

In tight housing markets with limited inventory, sometimes the only properties available at a reasonable price point are older homes that need updating. These are often referred to as ‘fixer uppers.’ These homes can often be a very good deal, but they can also turn into money pits and nightmares. Here are four major areas to take a very close look at (in no particular order).

  1. HVAC system: You’ll want to check the age of the system. On the interior unit look for signs of rust, especially if it has/had a dehumidifier. Check the outside AC unit also for signs of rust. Depending on the system, useful life of most systems is 15-20 years give or take. A full replacement system can run $10,000 or much more depending on the home. Having a HVAC company check the system is also a great idea.
  1. Kitchen: Just because cabinets and counter tops are old and outdated, doesn’t mean you have to gut the kitchen and start from scratch. Often you can update a kitchen simply by painting or restaining the cabinets, adding new hardware, and replacing the counter top. This can usually be done for well under $10,000. Check the base cabinets, especially under the sink for water damage, open the cabinets drawers to inspect whether they operate properly. Check the flooring also for signs of water damage (especially around sink, dishwasher, and refrigerator if there is an icemaker). A full kitchen remodel can run $20,000-50,000 or more.
  1. Bathrooms: Updates to bathrooms such as replacing tile or vanities can be inexpensive. However, what you want to look out for is water damage. If the floor looks like it is sloping towards the tub or shower in a corner, that is a sign the sub floor might be damage. Check for loose/cracked tiles (especially in showers/tubs around the bottom), red or black molding/mildew, corrosion around pipes and valves, etc. Check ceilings below bathrooms for signs of drywall patch or water damage; a sure sign the bathroom has or is leaking. A standard hall bathroom can run $8000-15000 to remodel. A master bathroom can exceed $20,000.
  1. Roof: Roofs aren’t always expensive to replaced, however a damaged roof can cause problems inside the home that are sometimes covered up before sale and can cost you dearly. You’ll want look for curled up shingles, signs of obvious patching, broken or sagging gutters. Also, go into the attic and look for water damage on insulation and/or plywood sheeting. If there are signs of damage, you may need to have the home assessed for mold/mildew, may need drywall/plaster repair, insulation replacement, etc. Roof replacement, depending on the type of roof, usually runs $3-6 per sq ft of room.

Other areas of concern are windows/doors, siding, and flooring. It is always best to work with a qualified real estate agent and home inspector; however, you shouldn’t solely rely on them. Also, good to have a licensed, insured contractor look at this type of home before you consider buying it!

To find out more about Beautiful Home Services, call (888) 724-6810 or visit their website at


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