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A Guide to Remodeling a Fixer-Upper

Buying a home in Los Angeles — whether it’s brand new or just new to you — is one of life’s most memorable experiences. However, investing in a fixer-upper brings its own set of challenges. Upgrading an old house by doing what you can yourself as well as calling in trusted professionals is a journey that’s unique to each home and family. It’s vital to be prepared and ready to jump into action.

Old homes can feel overwhelming — especially if you’re tackling a place with structural issues and safety features in need of updating. In addition, you’ll want to design it to your liking. There are a few things you need to know going into the remodeling process that will make everything go much easier.

1. What Can Be Repaired?

Remodeling things within a fixer-upper can mean quick upgrades or major undertakings. One of the first things you should do is make a list of what needs to be done. This can help you prioritize your projects.

2. What Needs Replacing?

Next, figure out what needs to be replaced. Make another list of things with structural issues or safety hazards, or anything so old it simply needs to go. This will help you solidify your priorities further and let you know what projects will likely take most of your time.

3. Set Your Budget

One of the biggest things you need to do when prepping for your remodel is to set a realistic budget and stick to it throughout the process. Be open with your contractor about how much stretch you have, and work together to intentionally use the money you’re putting into your remodeling project.

4. Get Inspired

One of the most fun parts of remodeling any home is designing it as you like. Gathering inspiration is a great way to start. Going onto social media, reading magazines and even working with an interior designer could lead you in the right direction. If you aren’t sure of your style yet, you could even take an online quiz to understand your preferences better.

5. Know Your Purpose

While most people have some idea of this already, checking in with yourself, your partner, your building team and your family is never a bad idea. Renovating a house you plan to flip will take a different form than it would if you want to live in it for decades. Beyond that, your design choices may differ based on details like how long you plan to reside in the house and who will be living with you. Knowing what you’re doing with the home – whether it’s a fix and flip or your long-term home – can make the process a lot smoother.

6. Make a List

One of the most beneficial things you can do to get your process in order before you start to make big decisions in the building process is making a priority list. You can work with professionals like contractors and builders to develop this list further once you begin your build, but having an idea of the most important changes you want to make in your home can help you spend time, energy and money on the right things to make your house the best place for you.

7. Find a Contractor

One of the first things to do when you start your remodel is find a contractor you trust and want to work with. While some things in a fixer-upper are DIY-appropriate, much of the structural and building work is better left to the professionals. Shop around through word-of-mouth and look for reputable recommendations in your area. Get quotes from a few different contractors to help you determine the best fit.

8. Get Permits in Order

One of the great things about working with a contractor or building company is that they can help you with all the permits, paperwork and approvals you need for your remodel. However, it’s better to be safe than sorry, and that means covering all your bases. Getting building insurance before you begin any demolition is a great way to protect yourself and your property.

9. Check the Structure

One of the most important parts of a house is the foundation and the overall structure in general. It’s also the best place to start with remodeling, especially if you plan to have the house for a while or resell it for a higher value. Work with your contractor to make sure you tackle the big things first. If there does happen to be something off in the foundation or structure, you’ll be glad you caught it sooner rather than later.

10. Start Designing

Remodeling a fixer-upper is exciting as a design prospect — you’re starting from scratch and using the good bones of a home to make something truly unique. There’s a lot of freedom and creativity that comes with that. Start putting together your plans or working with an interior designer to create a space that appeals to you and meets your goals. If structural changes are necessary, consider working with an architect or engineer as well.

11. Pay Attention to Curb Appeal

Curb appeal can sometimes be the first — or the last — thing on peoples’ minds. However, it’s the first thing people see when they come to your home. Upgrading the outside might be necessary, especially if items haven’t been replaced for a while. You can even get creative with curb appeal by going for eco-friendly materials or bright colors. The sky’s the limit.

12. Personal Touches

It’s no secret that renovations don’t happen overnight, but it can sometimes feel like a long process when you’re waiting to find the exact pieces you love to populate your home with personal touches. Remember, move-in isn’t the end-all and be-all of your remodel, and your taste can evolve with you. Add on your personal touches slowly and tactfully. It’s your home, and you have the time to truly make it your own.

Remodeling a Fixer-Upper

Some people would rather get a home that’s move-in ready or even create their dream  home with new home construction. But others prefer rolling up their sleeves and tackling major renovations. It might seem a bit intimidating, but with some careful planning and the help of trusted professionals, you can create the perfect home in Los Angeles for you and your family.

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