Don’t buy a fixer-upper until you ask yourself these questions Image

Don’t buy a fixer-upper until you ask yourself these questions

By Sumiko Wilson on Nov 24, 2016

Fixer-uppers are not for the faint of heart. As Toronto’s housing market continues to evolve, some ambitious buyers are attempting to transform undesirable dwellings into dream homes. But unfortunately, renovating a fixer-upper can be a long and laborious plight that can make even the handiest homeowners grow frustrated with their new house before they even move in.

When you’re on the hunt for a new home, there are many boxes you’re trying to tick off; you want the best neighbourhood, your dream layout, and it has to be within your budget. And each one of these requirements can be broken down into a hundred other must-haves.

There are pros and cons to the preconstruction market and the world of fixer-uppers, you just need to decide which direction is best for you.

Purchasing a preconstruction home requires less grunt work on your side of things and you get a brand new home that no one else has ever lived in. If you get a fixer-upper, you’re more in control of the final outcome and potentially have more of a say in timelines, but you can encounter all sorts of issues renovating an older home, which can also affect your budget. With preconstruction, you can have a pretty good grasp on costs and be prepared.


When planning your fixer-upper project, you can set strict deadlines and budget down to the cent, but small, unexpected details can really throw you off. It’s important to expect the unexpected and try your best to account for unanticipated costs and developments throughout the remodel, whether it be mold, mildew, termite damage, a broken pipe or something even more serious.

Furthermore, depending on the grandeur of the remodel, your new home may not even be livable during renovations, meaning you may need to foot the bill for two properties and only live in one. While this is a major inconvenience, the alternative involves your family living in a construction zone, which is just as annoying as it is dangerous.

Some people believe that buying preconstruction also entails living in a construction zone, but at least the work is going on around you and not directly in your home.

With these pros and cons in mind, ask yourself these questions before buying a fixer-upper:


1) Is it worth the money?

Make sure to thoroughly crunch numbers and take important details into account, such as the age and condition of the home that you will be renovating. Make sure you have some money set aside in case of emergencies; this should be part of your total budget. Is the cost of buying and updating this home going to exceed the cost of buying a brand new home?

Also, make sure that your renovation isn’t too ambitious for your street and location. Having the nicest house on the block isn’t always a positive.

2) Is it worth the time?

Renovations are very stressful so be sure to consider everything that you have going on and honestly assess whether or not you can handle a major remodel on top of all of that. If you are particularly busy, buying a fixer-upper may not be the best option. It is an all-encompassing operation and if you have other obligations that require all of your time and energy, something will have to give. Are you willing to make sacrifices to take on this project?

As a compromise, if the project isn’t as big and the home is livable, you can tackle the remodel one room at a time. Though this will take longer, it will be much less overwhelming, but potentially very trying in the long run.


3) Is it worth the energy?

Whether you are an expert or not, the project is likely going to require some hands-on work on your part. Are you willing to chip in and get your hands dirty in some way? Though it is avoidable, you can save a lot if you roll up your sleeves and get involved.

If you answer yes to all of these questions, good luck on your renovations! We hope that your remodel goes off without a hitch. If you answered no to any of them, preconstruction might be the way to go for you!

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