The notion of buying a fixer upper can actually be compared to Marmite in a way, people either love them or hate them! The prospect of having to work on a house that you’ve just bought can fill some with dread, you wouldn’t buy a car that needs a new interior… well… most people wouldn’t! But there are just as many people out there that look at an old house as a challenge.

Say you purchased a nice property in a good location, but you can see that there’s work to be done. Would purchasing a fixer-upper mean having to renovate the entire house?

No, a house that is described as a fixer-upper doesn’t necessarily mean that it needs completely gutting top to bottom, it may just be a few rooms that could use some work to make them more your taste – it doesn’t even really need to be structural work a lick of paint here and there can totally transform a space. 

With that in mind, let’s take a look at some of the things you need to consider when buying a fixer-upper.

Run the Numbers

It comes as no surprise that when you’re considering buying a fixer-upper, you need to make sure you’re not taking on more than what the home is worth meaning you need to figure out how much work actually needs doing to the property. You don’t want to be overpaying knowing that you’ll be spending extra money on the renovation. So first, add up the costs to renovate the property based on a thorough assessment of the condition of the house – make sure to include materials and labour within this too. Then, subtract that from the home’s likely market value after renovation.

The number you come to is loosely what you should be looking to pay for your fixer-upper. If you’re pay substantially more than this you should ask yourself if the risk is worth the reward.

Pick the Projects That Pay

A lot of focus is put on the pay-out you’ll receive at the end of your renovation. By improving the house and increasing the value, you’re future proofing your investment. 

Ideally, if you can find a property that mainly needs cosmetic improvements such as painting, drywall repairs maybe even a floor restoration, this is going to be a fantastic find. Most of these fixes will cost less than what they would return at market value which is a double bonus!

A home in need of an update in the kitchen and bathroom can also be quite lucrative too. The foundations of a good home are all there, it just needs bringing into the 21st century is all.

There are certain situations where structural changes are needed to make the home work better for you and your family, this is where you need to weigh up whether you’re doing this for the value of the home or for it to suit your lifestyle. There are a few structural repairs or improvements that present the opportunity to add cosmetic improvements at the same time, which help with the value of the work. For example, if the home needs the roof replacing anyway, why not add a skylight at the same time? A skylight can add value to a property instantly.

Make sure you’re not ‘over improving’. Think about the marketability of the home if you’re planning to sell shortly after completing a renovation, keeping it simple yet effective is absolutely the key here.

Take the Advantage to Learn

A fixer-upper gives you a fantastic opportunity to learn a new skill if you decide to take on a bit of DIY. Not only is it incredibly cost-effective but will provide benefit throughout your homeowning life! It’s incredibly useful to know how to tile a bathroom or hang cabinets. If you’re not up for the challenge though, there are plenty of contractors who will chomp at the bit to help with a renovation project, just make sure to do your research to find the right one for you.

How Realistic is it For You Right Now?

Do you have the funds to renovate the property once you’ve bought it? If not, depending on the level of renovation you feel is needed, are you comfortable to live in the property whilst you sort out the finances to begin creating your dream home? Instagram has you thinking that a fixer-upper can be transformed in a few short images, but the reality is it can be a huge and very disruptive job. Make sure you’re ready for it before taking the plunge!

So we’ve taken a look at a couple of things you should be bearing in mind when thinking about buying a home to fix up, if you’re up for the challenge it is incredibly fulfilling at the end of the project to see what you’ve achieved. There are so many more resources online that we wholeheartedly encourage you to check out and get researching the best option for you.

Design & Build

At Olive & Umber our flagship offering is our Design & Build service. Aimed mainly at anyone at the start of their journey and without architect plans, Design & Build is a great option for anyone about to begin their project. Working with an in-house design team, we’ll create home that you both love and is within your budget. By keeping everything under one roof too, it makes the process that much simpler without having to compromise on quality or service.

If you’d like to find out more about how O&U can help, send us an email to and one of our expert team will be in touch to discuss your plans.

Olive and Umber Office

Where We Operate: Olive and Umber are building contractors based in Peterborough providing design and build service for home renovation, house extensions, loft conversions, plumbing services and new builds across the UK including LondonOakhamHuntingdonNorthamptonCorbyKetteringCambridgeWisbechEly and more.