25 Blogs, Resources, & Tips For Remodeling A Fixer Upper

For most home buyers, a new house should be just about perfect. Wood finishes pristine, paint unblemished, wallpaper sleek with no curled edges. Others actually look at imperfections with delight, viewing them as opportunities to work on the house themselves.

DIYers see fixer-upper homes and those that need just a bit of TLC to really shine, as challenges, perhaps even ways of making money. Whether you’ve just bought a fixer-upper or you’re considering it, you may need some help along the way.

Check out these 25 blogs, resources and tips from experts and hobbyists who turned their wreck of a house into a thing of beauty.

Tips and Resources

It Takes Lots of Money and Time

Renovations cost both money and time. Those who purchase a fixer-upper house may get a good deal on the purchase price, but in the end, may spend the same amount or even more than a homeowner who got a house in better shape, says Rosie Amodio at Realtor.com.

So Go for a Cosmetic Fixer-Upper

Whether you plan on reselling the house or living there, you want your fixer-upper to look good. That’s why Michael Corbett at Trulia recommends a cosmetic fixer-upper, or “a house that just needs some DIY work and TLC. The sellers may not have wanted to invest any more time or money in the house prior to listing, and the listing price probably reflects that.”

Make Sure You’re Happy with the Neighborhood

As Boulder, Colorado real estate agent Jim Thomas says: “You can make repairs, improve the look of the house and change anything you don’t want in it, but the location isn’t something that can be changed.” Make sure you’re pleased with the area before you move in, especially if you’re in it for the long haul.

Be Selective about Home Inspectors

Don’t choose a home inspector because he happens to be local and convenient, when buying a fixer-upper, says Realty Today. They recommend selecting one who has experience with old homes, as they will know the costs associated with a DIY project.

Be Crafty Yet Cheap When Possible

Angela Elias at PopSugar chatted with Jonathan and Drew Scott of HGTV. The brothers are masters of fixing up decrepit homes on the cheap.

Want to emulate their style? They recommend new lighting, since “a well-lit room feels bigger and more inviting.” The siblings add: “If you can’t afford custom kitchen cabinets, then buy prefab and spend a few extra dollars on the countertop, crown, and lighting to make it look more custom.”

Look Into Getting Tax Rebates

Who doesn’t like to get money back when they can? Jill Krasny at Zillow says homeowners can get tax credits or rebates in some states when refurbishing, such as Ohio and Pennsylvania. Other states may have similar programs.

Work on the Exterior First

While you’re the one who has to live in the house, the exterior makes a first impression to visitors and upgrades increase resale value. Karen Ziga at This Old House chatted with Liberty Mutual Insurance consultant Chip Wade, who recommends starting with the front entryway and then tackling the garage door.

Know That Sometimes Permits Are Necessary

Where’s your permit? You may need one to if you’re refurbishing, warns Jim Kyungmin Kim, a realtor on LinkedIn.

He says “inspectors may require you as the new owner to do additional work or dramatically alter your original plans before a permit is pulled.” Obtaining permits can be costly and time consuming, but may be required when it comes time to refinance or sell your house, so don’t let this task get past you.

Know the Zoning Rules Before You Start

As Mike Huffman at the Michael Alan Realty Group writes, zoning regulations can really curtail the changes a homeowner can make on their fixer-upper. If you own a historic home, it’s best to check with your community about zoning rules before you so much as pick up a hammer.

Be Aware That Things Sometimes Get Hectic

If you’re the type who enjoys a good DIY project, renovating a fixer-upper can be fun. Be realist though, warns Brandon Turner at real estate resource BiggerPockets. “Expect to come home each day with cuts, bruises, and a lot of frustration.” He does note the project becomes more manageable as time goes by, though, and hopefully the finished product is worth it.

Storage Is Key

Most time, when you’re working on your home, you’re living in it too. How do you unwind amongst the mayhem? Stacey Freed at HouseLogic suggests storage containers. “Install an organization system in the basement or garage to store your boxes and large items while they’re transient during renovations,” she writes.

Price out Jobs Ahead of Time

Not sure how much each room will cost to redo? While the totals will differ depending on the size of the room, how much work it needs and what your budget is, property management company AbodeStory has a list of projected prices room by room. Use this as a starting point for your own remodeling project.

If You Plan to Resell, Focus on the New Improvements

If you are selling your fixer-upper once it’s complete, take a look at Redfin’s guide. They recommend keeping track of all the work you did so when the time comes, you can use these to justify the home’s value. That said, the real estate company also says to fully disclose any issues the home has, including those that will require significant repairs, such as structural problems.

Blogs

At Home: A Blog by Joanna Gaines

Joanna Gaines is an HGTV personality who has bought two fixer-upper homes. While you can always watch her on TV, if you can’t get enough of her home renovation and decorating tips, check out her blog, where she often links to her favorite products and shows the progress of her fixer-uppers in real time.

Old House Web

Offering “ideas and advice for old house enthusiasts,” Old House Web is a useful resource for fixer-uppers to bookmark. Some recent blog post topics have covered reasons to consider a wooden driveway and how to make an older home more energy-efficient.

The Balance

The Balance covers careers and finance, but it also has a section dedicated to buying homes. Whether this is your first fixer-upper or your fifth, you can probably learn something reading this blog. Do check out Elizabeth Weintraub’s guide on fixer-uppers in particular, which explains how to choose a neighborhood and more.

The Ugly Duckling House

Sarah Fogle at The Ugly Duckling House is often covered in paint. That’s because she bought a house from the 1980s and has spent considerable time renovating it to her liking. She’s learned a lot along the way, and she shares her tips with her readers, including pictures and posts of her progress.

Old Town Home

Wendy and Alex, a married couple in Virginia, have two homes they personally worked on. The two share tutorials, floor plans and plenty of before-and-after pictures on their blog Old Town Home. As they say, “over the years we’ve learned two important things: 1. Home renovation is a journey, not a destination. 2. We’ll never be ‘done.’” If those points resonate with you, you’ll like their blog.

This Little House of Mine

Whitney Keever relocated to her husband’s family’s house once she got married. The home has been around for more than a century, Keever says, so it needs some TLC every now and then. Read about what Keever and her husband have done at This Little House of Mine, which includes detailed posts with pictures and instructions.

Hooked on Houses

Julia Sweeten loves houses of all kinds, be they fixer-uppers, small homes or celebrity homes. She writes about all these and more on Hooked on Houses. One post in particular will appeal to fixer-uppers in which Sweeten fixes up a 1940s cottage. There are lots of progress pictures so you can follow along.

Young House Love

Sherry and John are another Virginia couple that got into refurbishing homes and decided to blog about it. They have finished three fixer-uppers. They also podcast, publish books and run the blog Young House Love on top of being parents. It’s a lot to balance, but they manage it. If you’re feeling overwhelmed with your own fixer-upper, this blog can help.

Old House Guy

The founder of Old House Guy is a fan of well, old houses. He says it’s heartbreaking to him when these homes are updated with contemporary additions when they could instead be carefully renovated. His blog is full of ways to improve a home’s curb appeal through remodels and other work.

Remodelaholic

Cassity of Remodelaholic has made all sorts of changes to her home, and she’s glad to share them with her blog readers. If you’re not sure where to start with your own fixer-upper, she wrote one post with 15 activities for fixer-upper homeowners, including making your own barn door, window trim, bed headboard and floating shelves.

The Craftsman Blog

Scott Sidler says he is “addicted to old houses.” He and his wife purchased their own fixer-upper, and as Sidler ignited his passion, he eventually created The Craftsman Blog, which is chock full of how-tos and advice on flooring, painting, plastering and more.

From Hovel to Home

Purchasing a 1960s-era home led a husband-and-wife team to start their blog From Hovel to Home. They write about the remodeling they’re doing room by room, so those who need some ideas can check out those posts and before-and-after images.

Images by:
LoboStudio Hamburg, Eduard Militaru, Jason Bass, Christopher Windus, David Cohen, Jorgen Haland