Fix-it Upper House – Worth It?

For the first time in my life, I have bought an older home.

Jenn and I have owned three other houses – two of them brand new and one was four years old.

Now we have purchased a home that is 28 years old.

Yeah, that wood paneling with wallpaper over it that looked like wedding cake was beautiful.  The two different leaks in the roof were nice.  The discovery of a pile of trash underneath the house was great.

With the work that we wanted to accomplish on the house, we decided to delay moving in until we had addressed many of the known issues.  We have worked tirelessly for almost two months to get the house ready, and we finally moved in last weekend.

We're tired!  It has been nearly a full-time job getting this house ready.  I spoke four times at NewSpring Church on Sunday, February 25th, and when I finished the fourth message, I got into the car and drove to the house to work on the house.  My days that I have taken off from my crusade have been spent at the house.  As we worked on repairing the roof, I managed to smash my thumb to oblivion using a 22 oz Estwing hammer.


You may be considering buying and fixing up a house.  You may be wondering if it would be worth the effort.  I will tell you this – I am the son of a home builder, and it has been very difficult for me.  I don't do this sort of thing EVER, but I kinda sorta know the general activity required.

I would say this, we have gained some significant sweat equity and learned a lot by fixing up this house, but I would not do this again for my personal residence.   EVER.


  1. Paul Moyer on March 28, 2007 at 9:53 am

    I am not the son of a builder! In fact my wife likes power tools more than I do (so much so that I have had to ban her from going to Lowes by herself; clothes shopping no problem, Lowes guaranteed 100 dollars)

    We purchased a home in October that is about the same age as Joe’s and was a foreclosure. We had a great inspection done and found that there was no structural, mold, moisture, termite, etc. problems. Almost everything is cosmetic. The only major down was the upstairs AC unit is fried so that has to be replaced (right now we are getting by with a window unit until we can pay cash). So we have been able to move in take our time and save for each project.

    From an investment standpoint the houses in our area are going for 60k more than what we paid for our house. I expect to spend about 20k getting the house in shape as well as the yard. This means we will come away with 40k in equity. I think this is worth it.

    Joe has had some crazy stuff that I would have never taken on myself. I would have passed his house by as “out of my league.” So the way to make sure the sweat is worth it is to know yourself and make a judgement on what you are truly willing to do.

  2. Jennifer Lenarz on March 28, 2007 at 6:23 pm

    We purchased a forclosed 70 year mill home that we spent 7 months fixing up and adding on to. We did most of the work ourselves (my father is a retired carpenter, and my brother is a roofer, both from out of town) except for the plumbing and heating and air conditioning. This was A LOT of work, but this is the second time we have done it. I think that you have to love to see the fruits of your own labor. While living in Chicago suburbs we did this to a 75 year old house there too, and made over 40K on it in less than 2 years. Like I said, you have to enjoy driving up to your house thinking…”I did that.”

  3. ken on March 28, 2007 at 8:29 pm

    go get ’em, Sangl.

Leave a Comment