A fixer-up property might be the perfect place to build your homestead! Learn about the advantages, what to consider before purchasing, and our experiences renovating our fixer-up homestead property!
A fixer-up homestead is a property that has existing infrastructure but requires a good degree of work to make it livable and productive. These properties are often run-down or have been sitting vacant for a length of time. While it may seem daunting to take on a fixer-upper, there are many benefits and reasons to consider creating your homestead on a fixer-up property!
Advantages of buying a fixer-up homestead property:
- Fixer-ups are an affordable option:
You can often find fixer-up properties listed below market value because of the property condition. A low purchase price will reduce the amount of money you need for your down payment. If you finance the property using a loan, you will also save money on the interest since the initial loan amount is lower. If the purchase price is right, you may also be able to afford a larger property!
- Keep debt low by renovating according to your budget:
Once you have purchased the property, you can fund many of the renovations and repairs as your budget allows. This will help you avoid loans and interest payments. As you renovate the property, you will be able to increase the property equity without having to increase your initial purchase or loan amount.
- Renovate & salvage existing infrastructure to save money:
Most fixer-up properties have existing infrastructure and property features which can be used to your advantage. These structures can often be refurbished for cheaper than building or installing new. Existing features like power, sewer, wells, irrigation, living structures, outbuildings, and fences are huge benefits, even if they need some repairs. When shopping for a fixer-up property, be aware of what features are present and salvageable.
- Customize the property to fit your needs:
A fixer-up property will allow you to customize the property to fit your needs and wants. Since renovations are already necessary, you can customize the property as you renovate it. This will require time and resources, but it may be easier than starting with bare land.
- Opportunities to build new skills:
Tackling a fixer-up property will give you plenty of opportunities to build new skills! A fixer-upper allows you to take on projects – from plumbing to barn building – that you may not otherwise get to experience. These skills will be priceless as you continue your homestead dreams!
Things to consider before buying a fixer-up property:
- Renovating a property can be stressful:
Living and working on a homestead that is being renovated can be stressful and chaotic! Renovations may also take longer than you initially expect! It’s easy to become discouraged and frustrated amid seemingly endless projects. Work steadily and consistently and you will soon see progress! The satisfaction of reviving a run-down property is priceless!
- Existing property features and layout may not be ideal:
While existing features can be a benefit, there will be some that are not ideal. These structures and features can create obstacles if they don’t fit your needs or are unsalvageable. You may also be tempted to leave the property layout as-is, even if it doesn’t fit your needs. I would encourage you to take property features and layout into consideration before you buy the property. And don’t be afraid to change things in order to make the homestead efficient for you!
- Unexpected repairs and expenses are common:
Unforeseen repairs, some of which may be quite extensive and expensive, will pop up during the renovation process. One way to reduce surprises is to have a thorough property inspection performed by a licensed inspector. Even with an inspection, it’s wise to prepare yourself for surprises, because property renovations never go quite as planned! Before purchasing the property, decide what level renovations you are comfortable with and only look at properties that closely match your confidence level!
Our fixer-up homestead experience:
We bought our fixer-up homestead property just over 2 years ago. Overall, it’s been a frustrating, chaotic, and rewarding experience! I wouldn’t trade our fixer-up homestead, even for the most perfect property!
We have done most of the work ourselves. We did hire professionals to replace the sewer & water lines, do some electrical work and to install the kitchen counters. Because our property was inexpensive to purchase, we have been able to fund all of our renovations out of pocket. While progress is much slower, it has kept us from incurring any additional debt. It has also considerably increased our property’s value without increasing our low monthly mortgage fee.
The primary advantage of buying our fixer-up property was that it already had two small barns, two chicken coops, a rabbit hutch, raised garden beds, fences, fruit trees, a lawn and even automatic sprinklers. While most of these needed substantial work to be functional, we still saved money by renovating the existing structures rather than having to start from scratch. We were also able to get different parts of our property into production quickly since the garden beds, fruit trees, and pasture area were already established.
If you are interested in a fixer-up homestead, find a property with good existing features and a good layout. Set a budget and stick to it as you fund your projects. Doing as much of the work by yourself as possible will further cut down your expenses.
Our fixer-up property has allowed us to live our homestead dreams! If the price is right and you feel comfortable putting in some hard work, a fixer-up homestead might be perfect for you, too!