How To Know If You’re Up For A Fixer Upper

Homewatch Newsletter Archive


Given the age and the sky-high prices of Toronto’s vintage housing stock, pretty much every Buyer is faced with the reality that property in their price point may require substantial work. Although your housing choices may rely heavily on a budget and a checklist of must-have needs and wants, have you fully considered the implications of buying a fixer-upper, beyond the mess and potential inconvenience to convert said fixer-upper into coveted living space?

An ongoing renovation project has a beginning, middle and end, characterized by transformation of a living space that translates into domestic bliss, right? As you move into remodeling mode, how can you ensure the finished product matches that in your mind’s eye? And, maybe most importantly, how can you make sure that you are satisfied with the end product, avoiding buyer’s remorse? While buying (and potentially living in for the duration) a home that needs substantial upgrades may make the most sense financially, there are other factors to consider in measuring the potential success.


First, ask yourself a series of questions.

– What does ‘Home’ look like? (Be specific, with physical descriptors as well as emotional cues)

– What physical transformations need to happen for the fixer-upper to translate to your vision of ‘Home’?

– What is your level of tolerance for, and concept of, a renovation timelline? Does that timeline match  with ucomping occasions when you’ll need the full use of your home?

– What budgetary constraints? How much can you afford to purchase price? What is left over for a renovation? Do oyu have a contingency cusion

These are all very valid questions that must be in the forefront of your mind when viewing a “house with potential”. After all, it doesn’t take long for a fixer-upper to become a money pit and the ongoing renovations to become the bane of your daily life – it doesn’t make for a happy healthy home!

Cosider these opposite stories from the reno journies of past clients:


Do You See the Trees or the Forest?

One client, brand new to the renovation experience and who was motivated to get the job done by budgetary restrictions and a tight timeline, found himself faced with a series of compromises that ultimately impacted his ability to manifest his actual living space into the dream domicile that existed in his imagination. Once the house was complete (by all accounts it was a rather smart renovation) our client remained unhappy. Why? He could never see past the finishing flaws that would have made it ‘perfect’. Despite the fact no one else could see these flaws, their existence annoyed him so much he eventually chose to sell and move into someone else’s renovation. For the person compelled to live in Perfect, residing in a fixer-upper may be a ‘living hell’.


Home and Harmony

In contrast, years ago, when my clients bought a massive rooming house in the Annex that was in dire need of renovation. They moved the family in and executed only the most essential of repairs, even though the house really needed to be gutted. In fact, it took them ages to repair a gaping hole in the dining room ceiling that had a clear view of the toilet in a second floor washroom! I spent years wondering why the decrepit blemishes of this former forlorn rooming house didn’t bother them in the least, but after two decades of enjoying Sunday suppers at their place, I came to realize the bizarre ramshackle charm of this house, chock-a-block brimming with their collections of ‘eclectic stuff’, actually embodies that cherished patina we call ‘Home’ more than any other place I’ve visited.

The lesson here is that these down-to-earth folks unwittingly taught me (an admittedly self-professed victim of our media-induced culture who resides in my own hyper-stylized domestic showcase) that despite any property’s quirks and failings, it’s often our attitude of what Home is which really needs renovating, rather than the roofs over our heads!


In an era of instant gratification, an overabundance of real estate, interior design, and home renovation television shows have created what I like to call “The ‘HGTV’ Effect”; these attractively packaged, story-driven programs often give viewers a skewed and heavily edited impression of the renovation process. It is important that home owners recognize, accept, and embrace the constantly evolving relationship with their imperfect ‘in progress’ property. Just like any relationship, our feelings towards our dwellings will ebb and flow. There will be cherished moments of laughter and delight, and times of frustration and hair-pulling: just like we experience with our partners, our families, and our friends.

If you can cross the threshold of a potential property and accept it as it is now, with all its flaws, then one day you will be telling your teenagers about how, back when they were babies, you spent every cent to put a down payment on a house with knob and tube wiring, a chimney threatening to topple, a sinking front porch and, “OMG”, you didn’t know how you ever made it work! And then you’ll smile, as you look around your renovated manse, at how crazy it all was.

What this underscores, in addition to the fact that ‘Home’ is a dynamic entity, is that there iss great value of planning, self-awareness, and in getting assistance from a reliable professional; take no chances when it comes to transforming ridiculous & rickety to fantastic fruition!

Check out our August 2017 Home of the Month, which follows Buyers through the proces of finding a multi-unit property that has good enough bones to renovate substantially into an income-generating property.

We have been alongside several of our clients through this journey, helped manage their expectations and provided support all along the way in a best effort to get a pleasing product that they can happily call ‘Home’. What this shows too is wonderful reciprocity that we enjoy with our clients. At urbaneer we assist them, and they teach us too, by including us in their experience – which is always dynamic and always engaging.

Can we help you develop your concept of Home, and then find the property to match?

Have questions? Please know my team and I are to help!


~ Steven and the Urbaneer Team

Steven Fudge, Sales Representative
& The Innovative Urbaneer Team
Bosley Real Estate Ltd., Brokerage – (416) 322-8000

– we’re here to earn your trust, then your business –


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