The 9 Most Common Upgrades Fixer-Uppers Need

Buying a fixer-upper might seem like a lot of work at first. However, it can save money and give you a chance to create your dream home, and it also expands your options within this competitive market. However, it will need a few upgrades. 

Here at GreatBuildz, a free service that connects homeowners in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura & San Diego with reliable general contractors, we work with tons of homeowners looking to upgrade their fixer-uppers – here are a few common ones to keep in mind.

Most Common Upgrades For a Fixer-Upper


1. Upgrade the Lighting

Replace Your Lighting - Globe Lights - Fixer Upper

Your older home probably has outdated lighting that may not complement your current design plans. For example, a vintage chandelier may not work with a more modern style. 

In addition, you’ll need to see if the fixtures are worn down or require new wiring. 

Adding new lighting is an affordable upgrade that makes a big difference. Layer different types, such as task, ambient, and accent. Place under-cabinet lights for cooking or lamps for reading. Also, ceiling pendants create a relaxing atmosphere in the living room. 

2. Add a Fresh Coat of Paint

Upgrade Home With New Paint

Paint is an easy and affordable way to make a home look brand new. It can help elevate a space and hide imperfections. Whites and neutral colors are popular in modern homes, while blues can provide a calming atmosphere. You can also repaint cabinets or ceilings for a fresh look if you don’t want to paint the whole room.

Go for colored furniture like a pink sofa if you want to add some color. You can also add pops of color through accent spaces such as entryways. 

Choose paints with low volatile organic compounds. This can improve your indoor air quality and is better for the environment

3. Tear Out Any Old Carpeting 

Old carpeting can hold dust and pollen, which can lower indoor air quality and make your home look messy. Replace it with something new. You can consider adding hardwood floors to provide a beautiful look and durability. They are also low maintenance and better for the environment. 

Living Room Fixer Upper Upgrades

Try laminate if you’re looking for the appearance of wood on a budget. These can cost around $3-$8 per square foot. Vinyl and tile are also popular choices for homeowners. 

4. Enhance the Home’s Curb Appeal

Enhance Curb Appeal For a Fixer-Upper

A home’s curb appeal is essential for increasing resale value and impressing guests, so make sure you focus on fixing up the outside as well. Remove any dead plants and add new ones. You could also plant a garden with colored flowers and vegetables if you want to go further. It can give your exterior color and save a trip to the grocery store. 

Make sure to repair any cracks in the siding or add a fresh coat of paint. Replace an outdated mailbox and add decorative house numbers. Add a few elements to your backyard, such as a fire pit or outdoor kitchen, if you like entertaining. 

5. Add New Windows

Replace Windows in a Fixer Upper

Many older homes may have cracked or improperly fitted windows, so you should replace them to protect your home’s interior and increase its curb appeal. Upgrade to Energy-Star rated ones to lower your utility bills. Windows you don’t replace should be sealed to prevent air leaks. You can do this by weatherstripping or caulking the openings.

Also, add fun colored curtains to elevate your space. 

6. Check the HVAC System

HVAC units must function properly to ensure your home receives plenty of warm and cool air. Older homes may have worn-down systems that need to be repaired or replaced. 

HVAC Upgrade for a Fixer-Upper

Don’t forget your filters, which should be cleaned and changed regularly. Clogged filters can cause the machine to work harder and pollute your indoor air. Overworked appliances could break down quicker. 

7. Repair the Roof

Many fixer-uppers will have leaky or worn-down roofs. See if you can make simple repairs by sealing any cracks. If not, you may need to have it replaced. The average cost is around $8,000 to install. Have a professional inspect your roof to determine the best course of action. 

Fixer-Upper Roof Replacement

Another way to decide is to consider the roof’s age. Most structures will last around 25 to 40 years. Other factors include your budget and the extent of the damage. 

8. Make Drywall Repairs

It’s vital to fix drywall issues before you move in. It ensures your family is safe and the structure is sound. A larger renovation project could also disrupt your daily routine if you wait. 

It can also be a messier job, and you don’t want to stain furniture or flooring. Consider hiring a professional to get the job done quicker and more efficiently. It can cost around $293-$875 to repair drywall. 

9. Remodel Kitchens and Bathrooms

Kitchens and bathrooms receive tons of traffic throughout the day, and they also have high resale value. Therefore, it’s essential to make these spaces functional and stylish. Some older homes may have outdated kitchens and bathrooms, so start simple and repaint kitchen walls and cabinets. 

Kitchen Remodel Fixer-Upper

Here are a few more tips to elevate the space:

  • Update cabinet hardware
  • Install new lighting fixtures
  • Add a tile backsplash
  • Buy energy-efficient appliances
  • Upgrade the countertops

Begin bathroom upgrades by updating old plumbing and electrical. Next, you can add new fixtures like a double vanity. Also, upgrade to tile flooring, which is more water-resistant. Adding more storage space is a worthwhile project as well. 

Tips for Buying a Fixer-Upper

Making renovations will increase your home’s value. However, you have to find the right home. Here are a few tips for buying a fixer-upper. 

Fixer-Upper Home Value

Get a Home Inspection

Older homes that need work may have unexpected issues. A home inspection allows you to catch any problems early on. This way, you can plan and budget for them within your renovation. 

Fixer-Upper Home Inspection

The inspector will do a detailed review of the house and outline the repairs needed. The process can catch major issues, such as water damage or foundation cracks. 

Determine if You Need a Permit

Fixer-Upper Need a Permit

Many projects require a building permit, so check the requirements for your area beforehand. This can prevent delays and hefty fines. Visit your municipal government office online or in-person to apply for a permit.

Here are a few tasks that require a permit: 

  • Structural work
  • Window installation
  • Room additions
  • Sheds and garages
  • Fences

Look Into Loan Options

Loan Options For a Fixer Upper

A fixer-upper may have higher long-term costs, so you should consider your financial options. One is a Federal Housing Administration (FHA) 203(k) rehabilitation loan. This will allow you to finance the house and repairs all in one. However, your home must meet safety and livability standards to be approved. 

The other is a Fannie Mae HomeStyle Renovation Mortgage, which also allows you to have one mortgage amount. However, it’s for renovating an existing structure.

Common Fixer-Upper Projects

There are so many options when buying a new home. You can move into a ready-to-go house with all the amenities or invest in one that requires a little more TLC. A fixer-upper allows you to create your dream home, so consider these improvements to make your property truly your own.

When it comes to finding the best remodeling contractor in Los Angeles, Orange County, Ventura or San Diego – GreatBuildz is simplifying the contractor search. GreatBuildz is a free service that connects homeowners with reliable, thoroughly screened general contractors and provides project support from start to finish.

Call now (818.317.3567) to chat with a real person about your next renovation project or visit our website for more information:

Hi, we're Paul and Jon - Co-Founders of GreatBuildz. We believe everyone deserves to find a great contractor, have a stress-free renovation, and enjoy their beautiful new space. There are so many contractors out there and it's often hard to tell the good from the bad... until it's too late. We started our company to help simplify your contractor search and help you have a stress-free renovation experience. We're always available to help, no matter where you are in the process. Click here to learn more about our story.

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