Should I Buy A Fixer-Upper Property? Evaluating The Pros And Cons

In a strong housing market, you may want to buy a fixer-upper property that fewer people want in order to get in. If you're young and full of energy, buying a fixer to build sweat equity is a good idea. I did so twice to some great returns.

Let me share whether you should buy a fixer-upper and the pros and cons. Remodeling a property is not for the faint of heart.

“Forget money. Remodeling is the number one cause for divorce.” – Anonymous

Before my current house, I had never bought a fixer-upper before. The most I did in the past was build a new bathroom out of a closet, put up a wall to create an en-suite bathroom, and remodel my ground floor by adding a shower and blowing out a center divider so one could fit a bed. Oh, I also changed all of my windows, which wasn't so bad.

After my remodeling activities, I swore never to do another remodel project again because it kinda feels like hell on earth. But that was almost 10 years ago.

After getting ferociously outbid on a particular piece of property ($1.2 million ask, went for $1.8 million), I decided to look away from nicely done properties. There seems to be a massive embedded premium for new or recently remodeled properties that I wasn't willing to pay.

All I really wanted was a view, gosh darnit it. The property itself almost seemed secondary!

Why Buy A Fixer-Upper Property

Home Remodeling Gut Job - Should you buy a fixer-upper property?
Breathe in fresh sawdust air

“Everything is fixable. It just takes time and money.” – I said this over and over again when my patience started wearing thin. And the sad part is that one of my contractors said the same thing a couple months in!

You buy a fixer because it can potentially cost much less and you can customize the property the way you want. 

Although building costs are rising every year, the value of your property predominantly comes from land value in the more expensive parts of the country. Once you have this understanding, you aren't as easily enamored by building structures as much because everything can be replicated. Bash a hole in my wall? No problem, I know how to fix it with some sheetrock, mud, and sanding.

The right strategy is to find that perfect plot of land, and then decide to build or alter the building structure to your tastes. Remodel at $500/sqft, sell for $800/sqft. Easy. This is why it's much better to buy expansion property in expensive areas if you want to make lots of money in real estate.

You can have a mega-mansion in Chicago that costs $300/sqft, but you can't make money improving the place because it costs $300/sqft to build! Think land, land, land, land, and more land when you're buying property. You can't build land after all.

When you're full of energy and cash flow as a younger person, you should consider buying a fixer. Use your sweat equity to create your fortune. Eventually your energy and cash flow will fade, by which time you'll hopefully have finished your remodeling.

Founder A Fixer-Upper In Golden Gate Heights, San Francisco

I found my perfect (for the price) plot of land in Golden Gate Heights. The primary allure was the view. I didn't care about the shaggy green carpets, the aluminum windows, the ancient range, and the tiny bathroom downstairs with linoleum flooring because I planned to fix it all. What I wanted was a house on the “right” side of the street where the back faced west and towards the ocean. This way, one could see the sunset and feel the sunshine without being exposed to the road noise.

What scared other buyers away in terms of “a project,” attracted me for the opportunity to customize the home the way I wanted. Besides a view, here are five other things that I was looking for in my next home.

5 Things I Want In My New Home

1) A large bathroom with a double vanity, separate rain shower, large deep-soaking jacuzzi tub, and separate toilet stall.

2) A deck off the master bedroom to go outside and stretch in the morning or gaze at the stars before going to bed.

3) A master bedroom walk-in closet with his and her sections and enough room for a daybed and a couple chairs.

4) A master bedroom large enough to accommodate a king size sleigh bed.

Combining two rooms into one large master bedroom, removed two bathrooms and two closets to make one of each
Combining two rooms into one large master bedroom, removed two bathrooms and two closets to make one of each. Was perfectly fine before!

5) An open kitchen that connected with the dining room with a view.

Obviously none of these things are necessities. I just thought if I'm going to go through the hassle of moving, I might as well have some nice new things that don't currently exist in my previous house.

I couldn't find all five of these things in any house on the market at my price range. The house I lost in a bidding war had everything except for a master bedroom large enough to accommodate a king size bed and a real walk-in closet, for example.

No wonder why the new owners who paid $1,800,000 are now spending another $200,000 remodeling the downstairs to combine the two bedrooms into one big room and make a larger closet and larger master bathroom! Take a look at the picture to the right.

I would have more than happily moved in and left everything alone for the rest of my life. Some people seriously have way too much money.

Related: Why Remodeling Always Takes Longer And Costs More Than Expected

Turning My Fixer-Upper Into My Ideal Home

My new house is not particularly big at roughly 1,800 square feet. But if I can add 100 square feet to the downstair's bathroom, and create a couple decks 250 square feet in total size, I think the indoor/outdoor size combination will be perfect for a family of up to four. It feels like efficient living where no space goes unused.

Having any sort of excess inventory really bums me out. This is why I often try and donate everything I haven't used in a year and keep things minimal.

Buying a fixer-upper enables prospective buyers to get CLOSER to everything they've always wanted. Nothing will ever be perfect about the property because we don't have endless money.

If you can find a plot of land that suits your vision, and then find a home that is large enough to make your desired additions, then that is what I'd buy if I were you. Unless you make and have a lot of money, paying for new construction or a recent remodel is going to cost you a hefty premium. If you're worried about the whole remodeling process, don't worry. There are plenty of contractors in your area who will happily take your money.

By buying a fixer, I think I've been able to save or create roughly $80,000 in sweat equity in five months vs. if I bought a house that was done. The $80,000 in equity wasn't free by any means. It cost me a lot of headaches, stress, and time. The more money you make, the better value it is to buy a completed house and vice versa.

Remember, “money and time fixes everything” when it comes to homeownership. If you plan to go in with your significant other, just make sure your relationship is rock solid before you embark on your remodeling adventure!

Related posts: How Much To Spend Remodeling For Maximum Returns

To Recap, Buy A Fixer-Upper If:

1) You are single or have the most unbreakable, loving relationship.

2) You have connections with contractors, electricians, plumbers, and builders you trust.

3) People have told you, you have the patience of a monk.

4) You have a flexible work schedule, or a partner who can help you keep the workers on track.

5) You are willing to put some sweat equity into making the property better.

6) You desire to customize your home the way you want.

7) You are unwilling to pay a premium for new construction or a recent remodel.

8) You are a masochist who enjoys writing about all the pain and seeing the good in everything.

9) You are a DIYer who wants to learn how to build homes. Apprentices need the hours before they can become licensed.

If you can fulfill four out of the nine criteria above, I think you're good to go! I'm in my third year of owning my fixer and I'm now creating a 260 square foot deck off the master bedroom and changing the old aluminum windows to a beautiful 12 foot sliding door.

The latest project will cost me about $40,000, but it's worth it because I'll finally have my dream deck facing the ocean. It's good to space projects out if you can. I finished expanding my master bathroom from a tiny 36 sqft to a more palatial 170 sqft. It's got a double vanity, private toilet room, double rain showers, and large jet tub.

Another Reason To Buy A Fixer Upper

As you build your rental property portfolio, you will face one limiting factor. That factor is the amount of property taxes you pay. One of the reasons why people don't remodel with permits is so the city can't increased your properties assessed value to charge you more in property taxes.

Not only will you pay higher property taxes if you remodel with a permit, you will also need to spend more time remodeling your property. The inspectors can be very strict and sometimes, there are different inspectors who come who ask for different things. Then of course, you have to pay the permit fee as well.

In my latest remodel, I put down on the permit the project would cost $80,000. The property assessors office unilaterally decided to raise my remodel cost to $135,000! As a result, I tried to fight my property tax increase and finally gave up.

In retrospect, I'm not sure if I should have got a permit. Because the assessor's office also raised my assessed value by $100,000 over the purchase price of my home.

If you buy a fixer upper, you should be able to save on property taxes. The reason why is because the cost to remodel per square foot is less than the selling cost per square foot. The difference is your profit and your savings.

When it comes to making money on a property, focus on expanding the livable square footage of your property.

Remodeled Homes Are Going To Trade At A Bigger Premium

Buying a fixer-upper to remodel is one of the best ways to build wealth. However, the older and wealthier I've gotten, the less I desire to buy fixers anymore. Costs to remodel are going up in this high inflationary environment. But more importantly, for wealthier and older people, it's taking a longer time to remodel.

As a result, remodeled homes will likely trade at bigger premiums going forward. It's so difficult to navigate the planning and building departments nowadays. There are labor shortages and supply shortages. As a result, there will be fewer remodeled homes for sale. Further, there will be fewer people who want to remodel as a result.

Invest In Real Estate For Passive Income

If you don't have the downpayment to buy a property, don't want to deal with the hassle of managing real estate, or have no patience remodeling a fixer-upper, take a look at Fundrise, my favorite real estate crowdsourcing companies today.

Fixing up a home and dealing with tenants can really be a big pain. The wealthier and older I get, the less time I want to spend dealing with real estate and people. This is why investing in private real estate funds is very attractive.

Fundrise is a vertically integrated real estate platform that manages over $2.5 billion. They primarily invest in single-family and multi-family rental properties in the Sunbelt, where valuations are lower and yields are higher. It's free to look and explore.

I've personally invested $810,000 in real estate crowdfunding to earn more passive income.

Fundrise Due Diligence Funnel
Less than 5% of the real estate deals shown gets through the Fundrise funnel

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44 thoughts on “Should I Buy A Fixer-Upper Property? Evaluating The Pros And Cons”

  1. Pingback: Stocks Versus Real Estate: It Depends On Your Luck | Financial Samurai

  2. Pingback: Does Remodeling Pay Off? Probably Not! | Financial Samurai

  3. I agree with the 9 points. I also agree that …FS: “It cost me a lot of headaches, stress, and time. The more money you make, the better value it is to buy a completed house and vice versa.”

    I concur. I bought an old house 10 years ago because of its location. I gutted it top to bottom. I hired contractors as well as doing a lot of the reno myself. Lots of aggrevation. It costed 2.5x what I planned.

    FS: “Some people seriously have way too much money.” Yes, it is nice to be rich.

    (see Zuckerberg paid top dollar — more than $30 million in total — for the four residential properties located next door and behind his own home. … Zuckerberg is leasing the existing homes back to the families that live there.

  4. Looking for value in real estate means you should look at fixer uppers or foreclosures. It is much more work, but may be worth it.

  5. One reason I bought a fixer-upper was for the low property tax. As I described above, while my fixer sold for $220K in ’05, I bought it for $60K in ’11. After my 2011 purchase, the county reset the taxable value based on the ’11 sale price (i.e. the “market value”). My 2014 property tax is $600! The $60K “market value” is locked in until the house is sold, and my property tax will be computed on that low base forever more.

    1. My next door neighbor paid $300K for her house one year ago and it’s nearly identical to mine, except for a pool and a remodeled kitchen. Her annual property tax is five times greater than mine! (i.e. That’s because her $300K base “market value” is five times greater than my base $60K “market value.”)

  6. We bought a foreclosed home 25 years ago. Since that time we have paid for only a few items… roofing, plumbers, new flooring… that sort of stuff. We did ourselves both bathrooms, the hardy board exterior, removal of that nasty popcorn ceilings and of course knocking out a couple of walls and the moving of one door and most of the kitchen remodel. We have thought of moving more than once but something always interfered with completing the process. I have to agree, you have to be a particular type of person to do all of the remodeling and survive. For me, I love the destruction process and my husband loves to challenge himself with new handyman type experiences. So I guess we really complement each other. Now that we are both semi-retired (both early), we know some of the stuff we did early on is now at the ‘end of life’ cycle, and I think we will pay this time around so that it doesn’t cause an ‘end of life’ cycle for either of us.

    For those who haven’t done it before.. do at least something small. Find out if it is for you. It was and still is very satisfying being able to say we did it ourselves.

      1. There is just something therapeutic to me about putting a hammer through a wall or to karate kick the sheet rock… it relieves the stress immediately. Although I can’t do the kick anymore I can still throw a good hammer… :)

  7. If you can afford it, for sure, DO NOT buy a fixer-upper!
    Our first house was a cheap builder grade house that was 7 years old. We ended up renovating that house from top to bottom (flooring, kitchen, baths, windows, HVAC, roof – literally the entire house). It was a beautiful house when we got done with it and after living in it for 14 years we made nearly $200K profit. But we lived in Washington, D.C. and sold at top of market and left the area to move to Ohio. So, financially we made out great.

    Here comes the “but.” I cannot begin to quantify the hassles we went through with every project. Every project was pretty much a nightmare. I did a few things myself, such as completely finishing a laundry room – I made, get this, 96 trips to Home Depot (we still have the receipts, LOL!) Not to mention all the wear and tear on my car hauling materials, gas, etc. just for that one project! So, I would not recommend it – in hindsight, of course! We did it to save money, but in hindsight, it would have been the same cost to just have bought a new house to begin with and get it exactly the way we wanted. Instead, we piece-mealed the projects over 10 years and were always dealing with something. Never again.

    When we moved to Ohio, we built a brand new custom house in a prime family neighborhood, all top quality (think Subzero appliances, quartz counters, etc.). We finished a 4000 SF house from top to bottom. The only finger we lifted was to write the check. The house has appreciated nicely over the past 7 years and I can tell you I have never been to Home Depot since building my house. So, that is the way to do it. Of course, I am now 49 and have accumulated a lot of relative wealth and my career is doing great.

    My last piece of advice, and this is where we messed up, is that we should have built a ranch style house. Our builder even suggested at a minimum that we build a house with a first floor master bedroom, but we were stuck on a two story concept. Right after the house was built, my wife became deathly ill and the recovery was a good 3 years. She is fine now, but steps are difficult for her. So, we plan to retire to yet another house (a ranch, of course) in 7 years. So, in hindsight, we should have built a ranch style house and we would have saved ourselves the hassle (and expense – duh) of yet another move. So, my advice to young folks starting out – get into ranch style house (or first floor master) right from the start. You never know when illness or injury may compromise your ability to stay in a two-story home. Hindsight is 20/20 but I wish we saw that one coming. But, back on point, I would avoid a fixer-upper unless you meet the criteria suggested in this blog – it really can (and is) be a very painful process with little actual return on your sweat equity.

    Best to all.

    1. Only 96 trips to Home Depot? Come on now! Hope you at least became a frequent buyer member!

      You couldn’t have sold at the top of the market though… b/c we’re at new record highs. :)

      Good tip on the ranch house. I’m building a master bathroom along with a master bedroom and walk-in closet right off the street level. I hear you regarding the steps!

      I think given you are 49 now, it’s totally logical to say “never buy a fixer.” But for young folks w/ energy, it ain’t bad, and it’s a good learning experience too.

  8. I wouldn’t mind a fixer upper, but I’d have to live there alone… We remodeled our kitchen a few years ago and it took forever. I’m sure the missus won’t want to go through that again.
    Our new to us rental is a bit of fixer. We’ll try to fix most things over the next 2 years. That way we can deduct them. It would be nice to fix things while we’re not living there as well.

    1. Yeah, it’s tough remodeling with a family. Hopefully you guys can fix the rental before you actually move in there. But, not sure how the tenants will feel?

      I did remodel a bathroom while my tenants were in my place b/c the drainage broke.

  9. Nina @

    I would love to do this because I enjoy tweaking things my way. You’re right though, I would need to obtain quite a bit of knowledge first and find some trustworthy people. I’d enjoy learning some skills of my own but it would depend on how my free time looks then.

    Certainly agree on having knowledge yourself is to your benefit, I know quite a bit about IT and I’ve stepped in when my family got bad advice from someone obviously trying to just shake money out of them. Besides, as an IT professional, I find it enjoyable when clients know what they are talking about because it helps facilitate things.

  10. Miami Herald, 11/13/14 – Miami area ranks No. 1 in foreclosure activity

    “The greater Miami area led the pack in foreclosure activity among the 20 largest metro areas in October, according to RealtyTrac.

    One in every 363 homes in metro Miami — covering Miami, Fort Lauderdale and Pompano Beach — had some type of foreclosure filing during October, the Irvine, Calif.-based data firm said. Foreclosure filings include default notices, schedules auctions, and bank repossessions.

    Foreclosure activity in metro Miami rose 11 percent in October from September…However, foreclosure activity in the metro area was down 27 percent from a year earlier.

    Florida ranked second in foreclosure filing activity behind No. 1 Maryland during October, with one in every 444 homes in Florida receiving some type of foreclosure filing during the month.

    Nationwide foreclosure activity also spiked in October, up 15 percent from September. Still, the level was down 8 percent from October 2013…the increased foreclosure activity broadly reflects lenders pressing forward on properties that have long been distressed…”

  11. Great post. I’ve done a renovation project of my own, but it was on an investment property and not my own place. I agree with the points you’ve mentioned, but I don’t think you need to have #2. You can find some contractors on local directories, get some quotes, and get them in to do the work. While you can do a lot of the work yourself, a lot of the harder stuff you can get people in to do (it saves time and money in the long run) and some of the stuff you need qualified people for (e.g. electricians and plumbers).
    If you have the right mindset I think it goes a long way to get it done. I put a lot of work into my project, which took about 3 months, and would happily do it again. It’s part of my long-term wealth creation strategy, as I know it adds a lot of value.
    So if you hate renovations, just hire the work you don’t like out to contractors!

  12. We went the foreclosure fixer upper route and couldn’t be happier. This property acts as our home and rental property. We had a large majority of the work done by a contractor right away and dealt with the dust and eating take out for a month or two, but now from time to time will hire someone to update an area we held off on updating or a nice little DIY project to save money.

    And Yes to all of these, maybe not wash my own car. Is there a similarity between people who buy fixers and people who clean their own homes, wash their own cars, do their own laundry, and mow their own grass? –

  13. Our first property purchase was an apartment which was a major fixer-upper. When we first saw it, I walked in and though ‘no way, this place is absolutely awful!’. But my wife saw the potential – it was a very spacious 2 bedroom, and was on the top floor of a 3 storey building with views out both sides and lots of natural light. Sure enough, we bought it, and my father in law helped me do all the renovations, and it came out looking beautiful. I sort of enjoyed the process, helping create something and add value which was very rewarding – as Sydney said, it’s awesome to see the before and after pictures, and know that it was your work that did it. I’m not terribly handy, so I learnt so much from that experience – but mostly that I didn’t want to do it again!

    Sure enough, after 2 years of living there, we took advantage of an opportunity to buy a small house in our ‘dream’ suburb which needed absolutely nothing done when we moved in – that was even more enjoyable!

      1. We ended up selling it. I was very keen to try to hang on to it as a rental, but we just couldn’t make it work financially at the time. The building itself was fairly old and was starting to have some issues anyway, potentially needing a whole new roof among other things, so it probably would have ended up costing us a fair bit as well as a few extra headaches (well, that’s the story I’m going to tell myself!).

  14. I say only buy a fixer-upper, if you love it so much that you’d be willing to pay the same price as if it were already fixed-up. In other words, you love something about it other than the actual house.

  15. James@StartingNegative

    Ha! My sister-in-law can relate to the anonymous quote. My wife had me send the post to her so that she could commiserate. I think all of their remodels went over time and budget. I can’t speak to the strain, but there was mention of buying a tarp and having me bring over a truck for some reason.

    Even with all these warnings, I must say that the allure of a fixer-upper and home improvement project is tempting…

  16. Financial Samurai,

    Great post and interesting take. I bought a house 3 years ago and debated about buying a fixer upper vs something that was remodeled. However – I am lucky to live in the Cleveland-area, where the price difference for a completely remodeled house and a fixer upper (at the time) was very minimal. Also – similar to one of the posts you’ve stated – I was lacking time to do a fixer upper as I am a traveling auditor with most of my clients out of town/state. I am single, but it made more sense for me to purchase a house that didn’t need much work. I think I lucked out in a few instances: Cleveland prices are relatively cheap for real estate, my time was lacking and cash flow (since I just started my career) was also smaller.

    Your post makes me consider though something for the future/next property – I feel it will more than likely be a fixer upper to ensure all of the things I want are there in tact – walk out deck/balcony overlooking a great view, as well as a large theater/move/entertainment type room for guests.

    Thanks again FS – great stuff.


    1. Hi Lanny, I would definitely not bother with a fixer in Cleveland! Glad the price differential is small.

      It’s in expensive markets like NYC, SF, LA etc where buying a fixer can help people get in, and allow people to have more economic returns due to the selling price/sqft.

      How’s Lebron?

      1. FS,

        I agree – the higher priced markets as you mentioned makes it tremendously worth buying a fixer upper.

        Lebron coming home has been awesome, bottomline. The first day back was insane, it
        s more wild seeing the impact that he has for our city. It brings a sense of – we are going to win and our city is coming together. A lot of big things happening in Cleveland at the moment and going forward, so cannot look past it.

        Thanks again Samurai, talk soon.


  17. After my failed first attempt at a home remodel, I’m now three years into my second attempt. In late 2011, after watching its list price drop for over three years from $150K to $90K, I purchased a short sale for $60K. It’s a decent 3/2/2, 2000 sf single-family home on a golf course, three miles from the beach and just one mile from my office, on Florida’s east coast. This home sold in ’05 for $220K.

    Since the purchase, I’ve put $20K into it, and still need to remodel the kitchen and bathrooms. My labor has dramatically slowed from about sixteen hours each weekend to less than eight, and I’ve started to settle for less than my original intentions, plans, and quality. It’s surely been a very good financial investment, but the work has been tremendous, and I’m not sure I’d do it again.

    1. How much do you think it’s worth now?

      That’s the thing with pricier homes.. the labor and stuff it takes to build a bathroom in a $1 mil house is the same as in a $200K house.

  18. I bought my first fixer-upper in partnership with my father in 2010 at the bottom of the market – a 4/3, 2600 sf single family, w/ a 5-car garage, 3 blocks from the ocean on FL’s east coast, for $190K (down from an ’06 peak of $500k!). While not truly a fixer, it was built in 1962 and we bought it from the original owner and, while functional, it was all original.

    Within five months and $20K in repairs, the partnership deteriorated, and I sold out at a $20K loss to another family member. Some hard feelings remain and I’ve learned to avoid real estate partnerships, especially with family members.

  19. I grew up constantly living in fixer uppers. It was easy as a kid because I just got to sit back and watch, but it was tough on my parents. My mom would get really impatient because my dad was doing most of the work on his own and she couldn’t understand why everything took so long and cost so much.

    So if you’re a couple considering buying a fixer and only one spouse plans to do the work – press pause for a second. The spouse who isn’t planning on being involved should at least 1) figure out ways to help out as much as possible so all the work isn’t just on one person, 2) do a lot of research to at least understand all the work that’s involved and why it takes time, 3) and be willing to give their partner a lot of slack while the reno is being done because it’s mentally and physically exhausting.

    My dad was constantly working on the different homes we lived in over the years and b/c my mom had no idea what he was doing or how much work was involved, they fought a lot. They were also tight on money, so that made things really hard. Don’t start a major demolition project if you don’t have enough funds to complete it or you could get stuck with a partially done project for a looooong time. Even if you have the work done by a contractor, it will still be stressful and take longer than you want, so you have to be prepared for that. Contractors will sell you the moon to get you to sign with them, and there will always be ways they will disappoint you along the way. Remodeling is full of the unexpected.

    But if you can be patient, have a solid amount of funds to pay for the reno, have sufficient outlets to relieve stress from the project, and can keep fights and arguments with your partner and/or contractor to a minimum, go for it! It definitely is the way to get a good price on a property going in, glorious living in the upgrades, and a great price on a property going out if you can do the reno well without blowing up your budget.

    There’s nothing more satisfying then being able to look at before and after pics and seeing a total transformation of a space that you get to live in everyday!

    1. Sydney, I had no idea! Those are some really great tips. Remodeling is such a killer on relationships due to the stress and money.

      But I’ve found that if one can get through with it, one can laugh at all the craziness! And since I have a blog, I want to relieve the craziness by posting pictures and smiling in satisfaction about all the progress!

  20. Steve@ChattingFinance

    I am 25 right now and just bought a fixer-upper. Mark my words. I will never do it again :-)
    The American mindset is that it’s great to own a house. Right now my house seems to be owning me. I work 8-5, then I go work on my house from 5-11. I should be done by this Friday!!

    1. LOL, I told myself the same thing 10 years ago, and here I’m at it again! I’m older, wiser, and wealthier now….. which actually doesn’t help. Back then, I was ignorant so I just rolled with it. Now, I like to drop the hammer on contractors who mess with me.. and then write a story of course.

      Good luck Friday!

  21. I do all my own work on my car and I do want to buy a fixer upper for my first place! I love these really personal posts of yours. I like reading that you’ve done all this before rather than just telling us what you think you know about the process.

    1. That’s great you do your own car work. I’ve always wanted to do the same, ever since I saw classmates in high school take automechanic class. You’ll probably love doing a lot of work yourself then. Save money and fun to create.

  22. I have several friends who have created a good deal of wealth for themselves this way. One is a couple who are very hands on. The other outsources the work and prefers multi-tenet.

    The outsourcers probably create greater value faster through both leverage and efficiency. The hands-on are slow and steady with less exposure.

  23. I’d add a #9 to your list: You either have existing construction knowledge, or you really want to learn.

    Without knowing the right way to do things, it’s only a matter of time until you get taken for a ride by a tradesperson. Many are honest, some are not. Some are honest but not that bright. Either way, you need to know enough to evaluate their plan of action and their work.

    Having a friend who can do this verification also can work, but for a major project they had better be a great friend!

    1. Great point and added. Despite the pain of remodeling, I’ve learned SO MUCH about building code, electrical code, romex wires, conduit, nails, sheetrock widths, tiles, and so forth. It will help me better NOT get ripped off in future projects.

      1. Vawt @ Early Retirement Ahead

        That is a really good point. You need to ask a lot of questions if you don’t have the knowledge, otherwise you might end up paying a large premium on your renovation. It’s also really important to check references and BBB for contractors.

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