Living in a Fixer Upper

Working on a fixer-upper while living in it requires some unique skills and personality traits. Here's what we learned after living in and rehabbing 8 houses - while maintaining our sanity and marriage.

By Gene And Katie Hamilton

Living in a Fixer Upper

You’re tempted by the chance to take an ugly duckling of a house and transform it into Cinderella, but before you do, here’s what we learned after buying 14 "handyman special" houses with exactly that in mind. We lived in and worked on eight of them, the other six we turned over more quickly.

Here are six takeaways we suggest to anyone interested in living in a fixer upper.

Know your money. Before you go house hunting know how much you can afford to pay for a house that includes estimates for the improvements you want to make.

Buy right. Invest in the smallest house needing mostly cosmetic upgrades in the best neighborhood that you can afford. Have money for unforeseen expenses that you can’t anticipate.

DIY or Do It For Me. Make a detailed plan of improvements and decide if it’s a job for a contractor or a DIY job you can do.

Make two lists. Make the decision between investing in immediate improvements or long range upgrades and create lists for both.

Be realistic. Make a projected timeline and adjust it as your work and family life evolve.

Be prepared for the unpleasant and unexpected. Drywall dust in your cereal, bad weather, and "life happens" delays are part of living in a fixer-upper.

Related Articles:

Coping Strategies for Living in a Fixer Upper

Prioritizing Improvements With a Plan

Seeing the Positive Side of Renovation