It seems like everyday of the week I get this question. It usually comes from a nervous home buyer who isn’t sure about what to do next after their home inspection. A lot of the time they are first time home buyers who are freaking out. Should they back off and walk away, or should they take a leap of faith and buy the house anyway? Most of the homes I inspect are not too bad, so this is an easy answer.
I understand the sentiment behind the question from folks, but it’s really not a fair question to ask someone like me. I have the skill, knowledge, and tools to do just about everything you can think of to a house. These assets make the list of things that need to be done to a particular house not nearly as big a deal to me as they are to the average home buyer. Not to toot my own horn, but it’s like watching Tiger Woods hit a golf ball. He makes it look easy; but try to do what he does and you’ll see that it’s not that easy after all.
Let’s look at three of the most important things you need to consider when looking at a home that needs some love put into it. By love, I mean time and money. It’s always time and money. And usually, it’s more time than you think, and more money than you planned. It’s just part of it.
ARE YOU WILLING TO PUT THE TIME INTO IT?
I remember years ago I had a condenser fan motor go bad on my A/C unit. The cost of labor to get the motor replaced was more than I was making per day at the time. So, I ordered the motor, took a day off work without pay to repair the unit myself, and still came out ahead a few hundred bucks. Looking back now, I realize that when you are young and just starting out in life, you have way more time than money.
Everything I did to my house or taught myself how to do, was usually because I wanted it, but couldn’t truly afford it. So I did it for myself.
I’m a big fan of this method if you are the type of person who can handle it and are willing to be self-taught. I started way before YouTube and blogging, so finding the info I needed was much harder than it is today. At the risk of sounding like a crotchety old man, ‘You kids today don’t know how good you have it when you want to learn something new.’ (Shakes cane at young whippersnappers from his porch.)
The downside to our current reality of instant information is that it makes everything seem easy, and with the magic of editing videos and TV, a whole house can be miraculously remodeled in 30 minutes.
Just watch any of the approximately 2 million shows house makeovers or home flipping shows on HGTV. Even Home Depot’s tagline is, “You can do it. We can help.”
The reality is that this kind of work is not easy, and some of it takes years to be decently skilled. You need to be honest with yourself and your abilities. Don’t drown in the deep end before you can tread water.
DO YOU HAVE THE BUDGET?
Bacon, cheddar, dough. Money.
However you say it, it’s always the biggest factor when it comes to buying a house. While having that money makes a big difference, the willingness to spend it is just as vital. The single most important factor you must wrap your head around with a house is that it is trying to fall apart the second it is built.
Every house requires constant attention and a little money put into it. Don’t believe me? Go look at an abandoned building and tell me what you see. I’m not saying you have to spend piles of cash every time you turn around, but a few bucks here and there is a guarantee. I can’t seem to get out of Home Depot for less than a hunsky every time I go.
This is what you sign up for when buying a home. It’s part of the package.
And if you are one of those people who do ignore your home for years, you’ll pay the piper when you decide to sell the house. A lot of my home inspection issues are from a lack of owner maintenance over the years.
The worst part is that most of the time you end up spending more trying to replace the issue than you would have if you had kept up with it in the first place. Old Ben Franklin was right. “An ounce of prevention is worth a pound of cure.”
DO YOU HAVE THE TOOLS TO GET THE JOB DONE?
Have you ever wondered why good contractors are so expensive? It’s partially because they have a very large investment in their tools to get the job done right. Good tools cost a lot of money, and cheap tools take a great amount of skill to overcome their shortfalls. Too many people downplay what tools cost for any given task. When you are trying to determine if you are capable of tackling a job, this should be one of biggest considerations. If all you have is a hammer, everything looks like a nail.
When thinking about what you would like to do with your new house, be sure you take into account any tool purchase you may need to get the job done. While quality tools will cost you, they should last a very long time.
So there you have my big three. TMT: Time, money, and tools. There are always exceptions to every rule, but if you objectively look at your situation, those three variables should help you decide if your new house is the right move for you. While no house is trouble free, and every house needs to work from time to time, owning your own home should be an exciting and happy time.
Remember: your home inspection is not to tell you about everything that could happen, it’s to tell you that everything will happen in time, and you should plan accordingly.