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Can a rotted house be fixed?

Answered by Jeffrey Anderson ~ March 26, 2014 ~ No Comments

Can a two-story house that's rotted inside and out be fixed up? It would need new walls, new floors, new everything. Is it possible to replace everything to the point where it can be lived in again?

-Amanda

Jeffrey Anderson

Amanda, one of the great things about remodeling and renovation is that just about anything is possible. However, whether renovating a house makes economic sense is another matter and I believe that's the question you're facing.

Without even looking at it I can say that the rotted walls and floors in the unsafe house you're considering can be replaced so that it can be lived in once again. Even if the foundation is crumbling and failing in places and the roof is caving in, those are items that can be corrected. But how much are all of the repairs going to cost and can you expect to get your money back when the time comes to sell the home? Before you get too far into the project, those are questions that should be answered.

My suggestion would be to have a certified private home inspector take a look at the home and prepare a report listing all its deficiencies. This inspection is going to cost you some money, but it should be well worth it as an inspector has the training to find potential problems that you may never see. Once you have the report, ask at least three qualified and licensed general contractors to walk the home with a copy and then prepare an estimate for the repairs. The contractors should have experience in renovating houses similar to the one you're looking at. There's a big difference between building new homes and doing extensive renovations.

When you have a price for the repairs, add it to the price of the house and property to arrive at the amount of your total investment. You may want to increase it a little to allow for any unknown costs you're almost sure to encounter. I suggest you then meet with a local realtor to find out what comparable homes in the area are selling for. If your total cost is equal to or less than those comparable homes, then it may be worth it to renovate the home.

However, if your total cost is higher, unless there is something special about the house, more than likely it would be a good idea to pass on the project as you may never get all of your investment back. If you're a DIYer, you may be able to reduce the cost of the repairs simply by doing some of the labor yourself. But keep in mind that the renovation of a house in bad shape can take quite a bit of time - especially if you're only able to work on it nights and weekends.

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