Cosmetic Updates Versus Major Repairs

Do you recognize the differences between cosmetic updates and true repairs? If not, find a contractor or homebuilder whose opinion you trust to help you learn. Can you accurately estimate the expense of necessary repairs and updates? The person who will do the repairs should inspect the structure before you make an offer on the property, and multiple estimates will help you come closer to the true cost.

Potential buyers may ask you to disclose proof of building permits and inspections, especially when they see repairs and updates that are obviously fresh. Not having proof that work was done correctly can kill a deal or drive the price down.

Become savvy about components used to build properties in different eras. If you pull down wallpaper, what do you expect to find behind it — drywall or paneling or plaster? How will that find affect your remodeling plans?

If you plan to tackle repairs and updates yourself, make sure they are within your level of expertise. Cosmetic updates can be a breeze, even for novices, but problems that involve plumbing, electrical systems, and structural issues will require help from an expert. Many of those repairs should not be attempted without building permits issued by your local city or county government, followed by inspections when the repairs are complete. Doing it correctly the first time will ultimately save you money.

It's a fact of life — repairs are nearly always more expensive than estimated. Unless you can buy it for an absolute rock-bottom price, don't take on a project that involves massive structural repairs until you're confident you can handle them and sell the property for a nice profit. Sometimes it's better to forget about a problem property and move on to the next one.

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