If HGTV and online DIY blogs have inspired you to invest in your own fixer-upper home, you need to find the ideal "diamond in the rough." Sometimes, fixer-upper homes are not worth the money they take to restore, or they are completely beyond your expertise, requiring the need to hire contractors and engineers to assist in the renovations. Here are some key things to look for.
1. Preserved wood floors.
Many fixer-uppers are historic homes that have gone through decades of style changes and interior remodeling. One of the benefits of style changes, however, is that they can lead to preservation of beautiful wood floors. Many owners laid carpeting or stick-on tiles over old floors. When these are pulled up, floors are often in great shape one they are refinished. When touring the house, however, how can you know without damaging the carpet? There are some ways to check if wood floors are really there, waiting to shine:
Look from the basement. Many older homes have a subfloor supporting the wooden floor, but the subfloor shrinks and has gaps from age. Shine a powerful light up and you might be able to see flooring through the older supports. You can also look at the basement ceiling (and floor) for evidence of water damage that may have poured down from the floors above -- water damage wood floors are tougher to refinish.
Lift up the floor vents. Carpet edges are tacked down around floor openings like vents, but since the floor is cut away, you can see what lies beneath, or even peel back the carpet or tile to see evidence without ruining anything.
You can refinish hardwood floors yourself, but it is best to have them looked at by a wood flooring professional to make sure that the old flooring doesn't contain asbestos and that the new flooring is still thick enough and durable enough to handle a full sanding. Sometimes, wood floors are too worn or have been refinished too many times. This is more rare when the floor has been covered up -- so nasty carpet and peeling stick tiles suddenly become your best friend.
2. More original features.
Many homeowners think that if a home has been at least partially updated, it's a better sign, because the work is halfway done. However, the problem with partial updates is that you just don't know who did the work or what the work entailed. You're more likely to end up with patched electrical systems or structurally unsound walls. The only exception is plumbing -- updated plumbing that is visible and done well is a plus, as older systems have clay or lead pipes which are both hazardous to health. Look for exposed woodwork, plaster that has not been covered up with layers of wallpaper, original kitchen cabinets, and even original sinks and lights.
3. Space to add usable features.
Many times, older historic homes have more nooks and crannies, and they also have walled off kitchens or single bathrooms, which is unappealing to buyers and the modern lifestyle. When buying a home, look at the layout to see where expansion can be possible without actually needing to build an addition. Adding a new bathroom or expanding a closet in the master bedroom adds value to a house. If you choose to add a bathroom, your home will be much more appealing to a buyer if you decide to sell. Also, if you use quality, but budget friendly finishes, you can even recoup most -- if not all -- of your investment.
For more information on refinishing hardwood floors, contact a professional from a company like Cooper Floors in your area.