Written by 6:00 am Real Estate

8 Things to Look for When Buying Your Next Fixer-Upper

HDR photo of plants near window

Buying a fixer-upper can be an exciting venture, offering the promise of transforming a neglected property into your dream home or a lucrative investment. However, it’s essential to look beyond the potential and assess the realities before making a purchase. Here are eight critical things to consider when buying your next fixer-upper.

1. Structural Integrity

The first and foremost aspect to evaluate is the structural integrity of the property. Look for signs of foundational issues such as cracks in the walls, uneven floors, or doors and windows that don’t close properly. These could indicate significant structural problems that require expensive repairs. 

A professional home inspector can provide a detailed assessment and help you understand the scope of any necessary structural work. Neglecting structural issues can lead to catastrophic failures, making this an absolute priority during your initial evaluation.

2. Roof Condition

The roof is one of the most crucial elements of a house. Check for missing shingles, leaks, or signs of water damage in the attic. A damaged roof can lead to severe water damage and mould issues, costing thousands of dollars to repair or replace. Ensure you factor in the cost of roof repairs when budgeting for your fixer-upper

Additionally, consider the age of the roof and the type of materials used. Some roofing materials have longer lifespans and may be more cost-effective in the long run.

3. Electrical System

Older homes often have outdated electrical systems that may not meet current safety standards. Inspect the electrical panel, wiring, and outlets to determine if they need to be upgraded. Faulty or inadequate electrical systems can pose a fire hazard and may require a complete rewiring of the house, which can be both costly and time-consuming. Ensuring that the electrical system is up to code is not only a matter of safety but also a requirement for many insurance policies.

4. Plumbing

Inspect the plumbing system for leaks, water pressure issues, and signs of corrosion. Pay particular attention to the condition of the pipes and fixtures. Replacing old or damaged plumbing can be a significant expense, so it’s essential to know the state of the system before committing to the purchase. 

In some cases, older homes may still have lead pipes, which need to be replaced to ensure safe drinking water. Plumbing upgrades can also improve water efficiency and reduce long-term utility costs.

5. Asbestos and Lead Paint

Older homes, especially those built before the 1980s, may contain hazardous materials such as asbestos and lead paint. These substances pose severe health risks if disturbed during renovations. Hiring professionals like Advance Asbestos Removal or lead paint remediation is crucial to ensure your home is safe for occupancy. 

Make sure to budget for these potential costs when planning your renovation. Testing for these materials should be part of your pre-purchase inspection, as proper remediation is both a legal requirement and a health necessity.

6. HVAC System

Heating, ventilation, and air conditioning (HVAC) systems are vital to maintaining a comfortable living environment. Check the age and condition of the furnace, air conditioner, and ductwork. Replacing an old or malfunctioning HVAC system can be a significant expense, so ensure the system is in good working order or budget for its replacement. 

An efficient HVAC system can significantly enhance your home’s energy efficiency and reduce heating and cooling costs. Additionally, modern HVAC systems often come with advanced features that improve indoor air quality and overall comfort.

7. Water Damage and Mold

Water damage and mould can be costly and challenging to remediate. Inspect the property for signs of past water damage, such as stains on ceilings and walls, musty odours, or visible mould growth. Addressing these issues promptly is crucial to prevent further damage and potential health risks. Consider hiring a professional to assess the extent of the damage and provide an estimate for remediation costs. 

Mold can also indicate ongoing moisture issues that need to be resolved to prevent recurrence. Ignoring mould problems can lead to extensive structural damage and significant health concerns over time.

8. Neighborhood and Location

Finally, consider the location and neighbourhood of the fixer-upper. Research the area’s property values, school districts, crime rates, and future development plans. Even the most beautifully renovated home can be a poor investment if it’s in a declining or undesirable area. Ensure the neighbourhood meets your lifestyle needs and investment goals. 


Purchasing a fixer-upper can be a rewarding experience, but it’s essential to go in with your eyes wide open. By thoroughly evaluating these eight key areas, you can make an informed decision and avoid costly surprises down the road.

(Visited 4 times, 1 visits today)