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We want you to be an informed homebuyer, and each blog post is a question that we have answered for our friends and customers over the years. Hope they help you make a good choice for your next home.

2) Does it have a workable floor plan? It might seem illogical to worry about the floor plan in a house that you are planning on shredding. But it’s important, because only so much relocating-of-walls can be done before a remodel goes over budget. Also, be sure to have your home inspector show you which walls are load-bearing, because they are much more expensive to change. Remodeling bathrooms and kitchens can be expensive, but moving a bathroom or kitchen to a new location is very expensive.

3) Can you afford it? Make a generous estimate of all the remodeling costs. Then add 25%. It always costs more than you expect, plus almost every homeowner adds a couple of extra touches along the way, so you should expect your budget to inch upward as you proceed.

4) Does the combination of sweat-equity and cash investment that is required match what you are able to give the project? The best deals look genuinely creepy and need the most work. They can be a good choice if you have the time and money to invest and, also, can wait awhile before moving in.
Time equals money, both in your personal time required to do the work yourself and the monthly overhead costs (taxes, insurance, utilities) of keeping a house that you can not yet occupy. The less time you have available to work on the house--weekends, nights, vacation-time--the more money you need to allocate to hire tradesmen or contractors to do a larger portion of the work.

5) How much camping-out can you tolerate? Washing dishes in the bathtub is only amusing for the first week. Also, major remodeling creates an amazing amount of dust. It may not be healthy to be in the house during the most brutal part of the work. Moving into a fixer-upper in-progress too early can simply be too stressful, so be sure to allow a reasonable amount of time before planning to move in.

6) When the dust clears, is it a good investment? Does the purchase cost + out-of-pocket expenses for materials and professional labor + a reasonable allowance for the value of your own time = at least a little less than what the house would sell for when you are done? Not that you would sell your labor of love right away, but nobody wants to lose money on a major investment. A experienced realtor or professional appraiser can give you an rough idea of what the house will be worth when completed.

  We recommend having three advisors to help you evaluate a potential fixer-upper purchase: a trusted realtor, home inspector, and contractor. Your realtor will help you find the good neighborhoods and best deals. A home inspector will tell you the condition of the home, along with what immediate repairs it needs. Also, some home inspectors, like us, are also building contractors and can give you preliminary advice on a remodeling strategy. But ultimately, it’s best to have a knowledgable contractor, who you can count on to do at least part of the work, to give you key estimates and further advice.


  To learn valuable strategies for getting the best possible home inspection, here’s a few of our other blog posts:

  1. How can I make sure I don’t get screwed on my home inspection?

  2. Should I trust the Seller’s Property Disclosure Statement?

  3. Can I do my own home inspection?

  4. How can homebuyers protect themselves against buying a home over a sinkhole?

  5. What makes a house fail the home inspection?

  6. The seller gave me an old home inspection report from a previous home inspection. Should I use it or get my own inspector?

  7. Why are expired building permits a problem for both the buyer and seller of a home?   

    To read about issues related to homes of particular type or one built in a specific decade, visit one of these blog posts:

  1. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1950s house?

  2. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s home?

  3. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1970s house?

  4. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1980s house?

  5. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1990s house?

  6. What problems should I look for when buying a country house or rural property?

  7. What problems should I look when when buying a house that has been moved?

  8. What problems should I look for when buying a house that has been vacant or abandoned?

  9. What are the most common problems with older mobile homes?

  10. What should I look for when buying a “flipper” house?

  11. What should I look for when buying a former rental house?

While we hope you find this series of articles about home inspection helpful, they should not be considered an alternative to an actual home inspection by a local inspector. Also, construction standards vary in different parts of the country and it is possible that important issues related to your area may not be covered here.
© McGarry and Madsen Inspection


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  1. Should a home inspection scare you?

  2. Does a home inspector give cost estimates for repairs?

  3. What is the difference between an appraisal and a home inspection?

  4. Are you licensed and insured?

  5. What is the difference between “character” and a defect in an old house?

  6. We looked at the house carefully, and it seems alright. Do we really need a home inspection?

  7. Is a home inspection required?

  8. Should I be there for the inspection?

  9. What tools do you use for a home inspection?

  10. Is it common for an insurance company to require an inspection?

  11. The seller has to fix everything you find wrong with the house, right?

  12. Can I do my own home inspection?

  13. Is it still possible to do an inspection if there’s no electricity or water?

  14. What’s the difference between a roof inspection and a roofing estimate?

  15. Should I hire an engineer to inspect the house?

  16. Do inspectors go on the roof? Do they get in the attic?

  17. What should I look for when buying a former rental house?

  18. What happens at a home inspection?

  19. Does the home inspector also check for termites?

  20. What different types of specialized inspections can I get?

  21. What are the questions a home inspector won’t answer?

  22. What is the difference between a building inspector and a home inspector?

  23. What do I need to know about buying a 1950s house?

  24. What is the difference between a home inspection and a final walkthrough inspection?

  25. Should the seller be at the home inspection?

  26. What is the average lifespan of a house?

  27. What are the common problems to look for when buying a 1960s home?

  28. Should I use my realtor’s home inspector or choose one myself?

  29. Should I use a contractor or a home inspector to inspect a house I’m buying?

  30. Should I get a home inspection before signing a contract to buy the house?

  31. Can a home inspector do repairs to a house after doing the inspection?

  32. What is a “continuous load path”?

  33. When did the first Florida Building Code (FBC) begin and become effective?

  34. Should I only hire an inspector that is a member of a national association like ASHi, InterNACHI, or NAHI?

  35. What is a “cosmetic” defect in a home inspection?

  36. Where are the funny home inspection pictures?

  37. Should I follow the inspector around during the inspection?

  38. Why do realtors call some home inspectors “deal killers”?

  39. How can I reduce the risk of an expensive surprise when buying a house sight unseen?

  40. Does my home have to be inspected to get insurance?

  41. Who should pay for the home inspection?

  42. Can you do a home inspection in the rain?

  43. What are the most Frequently Asked Question (FAQ) at a home inspection?

  44. What are the common causes of ceiling stains in a house?

  45. What are the pros and cons of concrete block versus wood frame construction?

  46. Should I buy a house that has been remodeled/renovated without building permits or has open permits?