A DIY Dream: Buying a Diamond in the Rough

While it may be tempting to buy a house that’s move-in ready, all polished and cosmetically perfect, there is another option that could potentially lead to greater satisfaction and more equity. This is to purchase a property that requires some work. It may sound daunting, but the rewards could be huge.

If you have experience with renovations, and have tackled some projects yourself, you may feel comfortable purchasing a home that has some bigger issues that need attending to. This could include finishing an unfinished basement (framing, drywall etc.), kitchen Reno etc. But if you are interested in improving an otherwise unappealing house and have limited renovation experience, there are some things to look for in your property search.

Try and find a house that needs cosmetic work, but the big ticket issues have already been taken care of. You want to see that the furnace is relatively new and still under warranty. While you’re thinking about the furnace, check to see the age and condition of the central air unit if there is one, and if there isn’t, consider the cost of having one put in. If the roof has been done (re-shingled) in the past few years that is a big plus. A major money pit would be the foundation needing repair, so this is a definite must to look into. Make sure you hire a reputable home inspector to assist you in finding out if these big ticket items are in good shape.

Look for a house that has old paint or outdated wallpaper on the walls. This can turn buyers off a property at first glance and therefore lower the house price for you! Although it can be time consuming, removing wall paper is really quite simple. Some warm water, a sponge and a putty knife is often all that is needed. Sometimes wallpaper adhesive remover is necessary to get the most stubborn wallpaper glue off of the wall. When scraping the wallpaper adhesive, be careful to keep from gouging into the drywall. Although patching drywall is also an easy chore, it’s time consuming and best to avoid it if possible.

Flooring that needs replacing is another turn off for many buyers, but an easy enough fix. Replace stained, old carpet with new carpet, or choose to put a laminate or wood down instead. There are so many beautiful, affordable, versatile flooring options available now that it’s easy to update a sad looking floor.

Dated light fixtures are an incredibly quick and easy thing to switch, and can make all the difference in a room’s ambience. To start, take note if the light fixture is putting out enough light. Surprisingly, dimly lit rooms are another reason houses have trouble selling as they tend to give off a depressing vibe. Determine what wattage you want your fixture to safely deliver, and head out to find an updated fixture to suit your taste and budget. Because you will be working with electricity, a certified electrician is best to perform installing the new light and removing the old.

By purchasing a diamond in the rough, not only can you increase the equity quickly by updating your new house, but you can also put your personal touch on it. Moving into a house that is already “done” might not suit your style, and it would be a waste to redo a perfectly finished house. But a house that needs work is a perfect canvas to have fun making it yours and yours alone!