Fixer-Upper: Dream Home or Money Pit?

There are so many charming homes filled with character spread through different neighborhoods all over the Portland area. Let’s say you found a beautiful old home in your dream neighborhood but it needs some work done. How do you know if what needs to be done will end up being a money pit or your dream home? Check out the list below of 5 things to look out for PLUS Before & After photos of actual Fixer Upper properties from our team!

Foundation Issues

A fixer-upper should be structurally sound, only requiring general maintenance and cosmetic repairs. However, if there are major flaws and expensive issues, it may be best to move on. The foundation is the most important aspect to examine as it supports the entire house and without a solid foundation, the house is not structurally sound. Serious issues with the structure can be costly and time-consuming to fix. Check for cracks, uneven floors, bowing walls, and moisture in the basement or crawl space. If there are any concerns about the structural integrity of the house, it may be best to move on.

Water Damage

Water damage can also be a red flag for potential buyers. Uncontained water within a building can cause extensive damage and create the ideal environment for mold to grow, leading to health implications and high remediation costs. Keep an eye out for damp smells, signs of leaks, and moisture in the basement or crawl space.

Outdated Mechanical Systems

It is really important to remember if the home’s mechanical systems, such as plumbing, electrical, and heating, require a full overhaul, this could be your sign to find a new property. Updating these systems can be costly and have limited lifespans. In addition, outdated electrical systems pose serious risks such as electrocution or fire hazards. The cost of fixing these issues may exceed any potential benefits, potentially causing financial loss.

Damaged Roof

When looking at older homes, especially most fixer-uppers, you will probably find some level or roof repairs needed to be done like replacing cracked or missing shingles. But if you find evidence of more extensive damage such as signs of sagging, multiple layers of shingles, leaks, and dry, brittle shingles, you might be looking at a complete replacement. A damaged roof can be very expensive to repair or replace, especially if there is extensive damage.

Pest Infestations

Check for signs of rodents or termite damage, such as crumbling wood, buckling floors, and mud tubes climbing foundation walls. If there is an active infestation, make sure to get help from a professional to understand the full scope of the damage.


Don’t get discouraged

While the opportunity to refresh a property and add your personal touch is exciting and can be a less expensive purchase initially, it is important to make sure that the home is not a money pit in disguise. Remember to always look beyond the surface and consider the hidden costs and issues when purchasing a fixer-upper.

Having an experienced Lovejoy Real Estate professional by your side during your home buying process is essential, especially when issues come up and you need real life advice or references for trusted professionals. Check out some before and after photos below of fixer-upper homes Jenny & Charles Turner have purchased and updated.



Leave a Reply