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Old 12-27-2015, 10:16 PM
Location: Too Far from Florida!
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For those that have experience buying a house, how did you determine the priorities
Of what to fix first on a house? Any ideas, tips welcome !
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Old 12-27-2015, 10:23 PM
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Building envelope:
Roof, Siding, Foundation, Windows, Doors, Insulation (as determined for climate), check for proper grading / drainage on the topography - though I would not buy anything without these things being assessed as best and closely as possible. To limit excesss 'fixing up', unless the location was simply worth more and it was a tear down situation.
Plumbing / Electrical / HVAC

Most everything else is cosmetic
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Old 12-27-2015, 10:31 PM
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Here's the order I did, which occurred over several years, most of which I knew about in advance:

1 year after purchasing: new roof

3 years after purchasing: Replaced 4 windows, replaced old Masonite siding with James Hardy fiber cement siding. New paint outside, new gutters & downspouts, new shutters, updated the back deck. Also had my family room repainted.

7 years after purchasing: Back deck painted. Rot suddenly found & had all that replaced. New door frame & patio door needed as well.

8 years after purchasing: Original HVAC broke. It had lasted 25 years total. Fully replaced upstairs & downstairs.
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Old 12-28-2015, 04:22 PM
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It really depends on the home and the sort of person you are. What I mean is... some people need things to look pretty, while others are OK with things not looking pretty so long as they are functional. That also determines how you map out the work that you will do to fix up the house.

When you bought your home you should have had a home inspection done. When we had ours done, it gave us a really good idea of things that were in good shape versus things that needed a little (or a lot) of TLC. That has helped us to priorities some of the work we've done.

We've had our home less than five years, and this is what we have done so far:
1. replaced roof
2. replaced gutters/downspouts
3. removed popcorn/acoustic ceiling and replaced and repainted ceilings.
4. removed all medium-size and large trees that were too close to the house, also removed stumps (this was very $$$, some of it we did ourselves, some of it we paid a professional to do)
5. replaced old 11 year-old water heater with hybrid energy efficient water heater
6. replaced fence
7. completely removed all lawn/grass and non-native plants/shrubs and vegetation; installed landscaping which is water-wise/drought-tolerant and very low maintenance. (Best thing we've done so far, IMO! We donated the lawn mower, we'll never need it again.)

Next up: replacing windows, finishing/insulating garage, updating insulation (attic), installing ductless air conditioning and heating (we currently have no air conditioning (common for Pacific Northwest), and wall unit electric heat).

We originally wanted to replace the windows before the removal of the trees and replacing the 11-year old water heater... But the water heater was causing plumbing problems (it was eroding away inside and little bits were causing clogs) and the tree roots were causing draining issues as well as dropping limbs onto the house (they had not been planted in the right places and also had not been maintained properly)... Also one of the trees was infested with insects and their sticky poop was dripping all over our driveway and cars, creating a slippery gross mess... so we put off the windows and took care of those issues first. You have to be flexible and make adjustments to your list sometimes. Life happens.

You just have to really sit down and consider your home, make a list of everything that needs doing... and then begin to prioritize based on urgency, or also things like... "How long can I live with it this way?" You might also consider... will doing this save you money, time, or trouble in the long-run?

Our neighbors on both sides recently updated their windows and it has made a huge improvement to how their homes look and feel, and lowered their utility bills. I cannot wait to get our windows done!
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Old 12-28-2015, 05:52 PM
Location: southwestern PA
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Originally Posted by 4Florida2 View Post
For those that have experience buying a house, how did you determine the priorities
Of what to fix first on a house? Any ideas, tips welcome !
That depends upon what exactly needs to be fixed... and how much money and time you have.
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Old 12-29-2015, 05:05 PM
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I would say that there are four major priorities that are above ALL others:

1) Does the roof need repair? A bad roof will cost you $$$ in damages and expose you to mold.
2) Does the HVAC work? If the house does not heat properly, you are exposed to ruptured pipe and major discomfort.
3) Is the plumbing correct? Again, if not, you are exposed to leaks and a lot of potential damage.
4) Is the electrical system OK and adequate? This is the major cause of house fires in older homes.

Most people focus on the cosmetics - upgrading the kitchen, painting the house, and the like. However, those should play second fiddle to the four above.
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Old 12-29-2015, 05:56 PM
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Water kills houses!

If their is leak INSIDE OR OUT it will eat your investment quicker than you can say "money pit".

I would estimate that probably 75% of all homes have a some kind of leak right now. If that leak is under a kitchen sink or a shower stall odds are it won't be discovered for many years, at which point there will be extensive damage that will be VERY costly to repair.

Only about 10% of leaks are from the roof -- once it starts it is SUPER EASY to be annoyed by it and 95% of home owners will make an insurance claim to get it fixed fast.

Lots of idiot home owners also put up with things like poorly graded lots that leave water pooled up near the foundation. That rots out the sill plate and can literally cause entire homes to collapse.

Windows are rather infrequently the source of leaks, unless some DIY clod tries to install a sliding door in such a way that water comes into the home. That ruins floors fast.

WATER KILLS HOMES! Priority #1 is eliminate leaks!
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Old 12-30-2015, 08:26 AM
Location: North Idaho
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For any fixer-upper I've ever bought, first thing we did was to haul out all the trash and scrub off the dirt and grease and tobacco stains that were running down the walls.

I always cut down the weeds and remove dead plants to try to make the place look less like nobody cares about it. Abandoned buildings can bring you vandals and squatters.

Making the building weather tight is first, whatever needs to be done to keep water out, and that includes drainage issues. As soon as the building is weather tight, the HVAC guy comes in to check the heat system. If the heat works, then the water is turned on.

Then you work on plumbing and electric.

At the same time, you remove any walls that you want to have removed.

Personally, I try not to buy a house that needs extensive structural work. I can get enough of a discount on a house that needs cosmetic work and trash clean-up. I don't mind replacing an older roof that is past its sell-by date, but I don't want to buy a place where the roof is actually leaking and where it has been leaking long enough to do damage or cause mold.
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Old 12-30-2015, 09:21 PM
Location: Too Far from Florida!
149 posts, read 307,504 times
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Loving all these replies. That's what I wanted to know how you did it
According to each different circumstances ! Thanks all
I hope I get more answers!
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Old 12-31-2015, 06:53 AM
Location: Ohio
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We purchased a fixer-upper in 2015 and spent the first month clearing out horrible kitchen cabinets and appliances that were beyond cleaning/repainting. Then cleaned all the walls and floors and repainted walls and ceiling. I'm in Florida and this is a concrete block/stucco home.

Before buying we had inspections done, NOT by a home inspector because we've used them before and they are not good at spotting problems. We called individual tradespeople (plumber, roofer, HVAC etc) to get a quote on repair/replacement. Some didn't charge anything and some charge a minimum visit fee.

Roof was old but didn't need replacement (they said) and heavy rains after settlement showed no leaks, yay!

To answer your question: What to fix first: fix items that will cause damage if left undone: roof, windows, doors. Next fix insulation or leaks around foundation that critters can get in. Next fix heat/AC. Paint is the last thing to do, inside and out. Flooring is last too unless it is damaged and needs repair.

It sounds like you are buying a house. If this is the first time for you then this is the biggest frugal tip I can give you: Profit is made at the time you purchase the house, not when you sell. That means don't buy something and think it will appreciate in value, buy the worst house in the neighborhood at the lowest price and do not over-improve it.

I waited 3 years until I found the just-right fixer-upper to buy. Timing is important, fewer buyers to compete with means getting a lower purchase price accepted (for my area summer is slow RE season, for many areas between Thanksgiving and Christmas is slow season). I watched the online MLS like a hawk and looked at 20 properties over 3 years and also kept track of how much they sold for. This information can be gotten from a real estate agent but it is also available on the MLS if you know where to look.

Exterior: you don't need to fix it up until you want to sell or unless you are violating county/city codes. My neighbors next door to our home (not the fixer upper) I swear keep their house looking dumpy because they don't want their taxes to go up haha. Taxes here are based on s.footage so their plan is not a good one.

Other fixer-upper tips: Kitchen and bathrooms sell houses but the sales price is based on $ per square foot on what the comparable home sold for recently so do not over-improve. Getting a low price on renovations also keeps your cost down. Again getting these done in slow season is best and always get 2 to 3 quotes. We saved 30% on electrical repairs this way.

Our lucky day was getting a handyman who started tearing out kitchen the day after settlement. He had multiple skills and we paid him at the end of each day (his terms). Getting the right tradespeople can save you big money. If you have these skills it's money in your pocket but if you make more money in your job then hire people.

Good luck.
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