Fixer-upper houses are a big business today. The seller buys a property, probably on auction at a lower price, spruces it up and resells it at a profit. The demand for such houses is on the rise since they come across as easy to buy, cheap and less time-consuming. However, you need to be alert to ensure that you are getting what you bargained for. Despite the cosmetic beauty, fixer upper houses may start to show problems after only six months, therefore, it is important to take your time to thoroughly investigate your flip house before forking out thousands of dollars.
To avoid being a flippers quick cash cow, consider the following warning signs
When everything looks new, then it’s a cause to worry. Unless it is a new house, you would expect a mixture of both old and new things. Don’t be fooled by the bling on the surface. Don’t forget to check if all repairs are properly done and the house well-maintained. The renovations should be documented with the city in applicable permits.
- Gaps between countertops
- Poorly installed doors
- Appliances not correctly installed
- Kitchen with an improper connection of water lines, sink drains, and dishwasher connections
- Old looking electrical and plumbing
Electrical wiring should be checked and replaced when outdated. If the wiring is looking old and unmaintained, then there is a cause to worry. Inspect every working outlet and test every light switch to ensure that they are working properly. Even if it means hiring an electrician, it is crucial to ensure that all the wiring is properly done and it’s not in a mess. Cause of concern would be outdated electric panels. Lots of mangled wiring. Excessive use of extension cords, etc.
Plumbing wears with time and it can develop leaks. So, ensure that the worn-out lines are replaced and that the septic system is in good condition. Check all visible pipes for insulation or paper wrapping. Most asbestos is commonly found as insulation/paper wrap around plumbing pipes in the basement.
When you are making major repairs or remodeling a house, a permit is required. The fixer upper house may have been done by a shortcut contractor who chose not to get the proper permits. When your new flip house lacks the proper permits, you may be required to legalize all the work done. This also means that the possibility of getting major problems with your house is high. To protect yourself, ask for copies of all permits and check if they tally with the work done. Therefore, check for discrepancies and if some permits are lacking, it is an indication that the remodeling was not handled by a professional
When the contractor has left paint cans that include removing the odor or removing stains, then be cautious. This means that the fixer upper property may have sustained water damage or mold. It is a common practice for contractors to cover up mold with mold and stain reducing paint called Kilz or heavy-duty primer. Because painting over mold will only cause the problem to become worse.
First of all, the attic is one of the easy places to get ignored. Ensure that it is properly maintained, no signs of mold growth and has a sufficient amount of insulation. A leaking roof can cause the attic to accumulate moisture which can be a source of bad order and insects.
Also, inspect all the crawl spaces to ensure that there is no mold and has sufficient insulation and ventilation. Look for any roof damage or old wiring in the attic and ensure that they are properly fixed.
Flooring is a major factor which determines the overall quality of a fixer upper house. Uneven floors and surfaces are a major indication of a looming disaster. Poor flooring indicates serious flaws in plumbing and electrical work. Any signs of moisture or mustiness in the basement. Because flippers can easily ignore the basement making it produce a musty smell. Look for foundation cracks, poor wall supports and improper utility installations. Inspect the basement thoroughly to ensure that there are no cracks or signs of moisture. Also, ensure that all exterior points of entry are sealed off to keep off rodents and insects that would love to eat leftover food crumbs.
Buying a flip house can be a solution to your homeownership quest. However, before taking the plunge, ensure that you have done a thorough home inspection to avoid incurring major costs in repairs.