“Rehabbing” an Old Home on a Budget

Posted by Krista Fracke on Friday, March 4th, 2016 at 9:39am.

The concept of purchasing a “fixer-upper” is an idea that’s quite alluring for many entrants into Northeast Florida’s real estate marketplace; especially for the prospective home owners out there who are working on a particularly tight budget and willing to undertake home renovations and restorations on their own.          

However, the dream scenario surrounding this ideal can come crashing down in a hurry if you’re not prepared for the hidden costs and sometimes substantial amount of elbow grease that goes into this process. To ensure that you’re never facing down an unnecessarily bloated renovation budget or a halfway finished fixer-upper, let’s spend a few minutes going over some of the most powerful and effective tactics for keeping this kind of project on track and financially feasible.

Focus on Restoration and Not Replacement

With houses dating back to the turn of the 20th century in neighborhoods like Arlington and Avondale, it’s no big surprise that replacing plumbing fixtures, kitchen cabinetry, and other original inclusions within the home seems like an automatic portion of the fixer-upper process. Unfortunately, subscribing to this mentality is a great way to waste a hefty amount of your budget on unnecessary upgrades and also damage the lasting value of your home.

As Nicole Curtis – host of HGTV’s “Rehab Addict” – explains in an interview with The Times-Picayune of New Orleans, older homes that fall into the “fixer-upper” designation often come with solid wood cabinets, porcelain tubs, and other highly valuable original fixtures. Investing in the restoration of these home assets via refinishing and recoating is not only a significantly more budget-friendly option when compared to paying for next fixtures, demos, and installations in most cases, it also helps enhance the resale value of the house later on down the road.

“Easy Does It” Is a Winning Mantra

Over the years, an old home accumulates quite a backlog of dust, grit, and gunk – to put things politely. During your cleaning and restoration sessions, it’s important to understand that scrubbing harder isn’t always the best way to eradicate this buildup. In fact, the editorial staff from Old House Journal points out that getting rough with floorboards, walls, and other surfaces can lead to some disastrous home renovation results.

A better course of action is to pair up patience with cleaning supplies that favor natural ingredients over toxic or harsh chemicals. Slowly and gently working away years of paint or grime isn’t a fun or particularly exciting endeavor; there’s no point in arguing this fact. However, by subscribing to this approach you ensure that unnecessary damage or destruction – and excess costs – don’t have to become part of your home renovation plans.

Being a Creative Decorator Goes a Long Way 

Another simple and effective tip that goes a long way toward keeping your budget in check and the renovation of a home on the right path is by being creative with your decorating scheme. As Country Living’s Joshua Lyon notes in his piece on rehabilitating old homes, sticking to a theme and scooping up artwork that remains under a certain price threshold at flea markets and other non-traditional outlets creates an eye-catching experience throughout the home that’s easy on your budget. Pricey artwork and other accessories are definitely a nice inclusion to any home, but often not mandatory if you’re willing to enact a creative take on the decorating process like the one highlighted by Lyon.

Don’t Be Afraid to Bring in the Professionals

Finally, if you find yourself in over your head with a restoration project, don’t hesitate to call in the professionals and ensure that this home renovation is done the right way. Yes, the upfront cost of enlisting a plumber, carpenter, or other specialist can be a hard pill to swallow at times. Even so, when you compare the cost of these services to the amount of money you could end up spending to take multiple stabs at this project on your own, it becomes fairly easy to see that biting the bullet sooner rather than later is often the right way to approach these tough scenarios. 

By now the message here should be coming into focus fairly clearly: If you’re willing to think outside of the box and embrace the above techniques and tactics, then saving money and staying on budget during the rehabilitation of an old home doesn’t have to be a case of wishful thinking. All that’s left to do now is decide whether or not you’re ready to put these concepts in motion and start working toward the restoration of your dream home today. 

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