Joanna and Chip Gaines begin their hit show Fixer Upper on HGTV each week with that question. I love their show and others which depict people taking on a fixer upper property and making it into something wonderful. You might say I’m addicted!
So, to answer the question, “Do you have the guts to take on a fixer upper?” My answer is yes, I do! This week I successfully negotiated a contract on a fixer upper in the mountains about 40 minutes from my home.
The original cabin with a stone fireplace was built in 1938. It is a one room structure built on a stone foundation. In 1989, former owners crudely built an attached two-story addition to the cabin. This addition was not permitted and later deteriorated beyond livability. The cabin has electricity but no running water or septic. It has a primitive outhouse up the hill for the owner’s convenience.
So why am I buying this property?
First, I can afford it and it is a good investment. The property was listed “as is” for $98,900. I offered $85,000 and the sellers accepted. Other fixer uppers we have looked at have been listed around $200,000 with major work needed. Mountain properties in the area typically go for $120,000 and up for smaller lots and cabins. Once I fix this property up as now planned, we could probably list it for over $200,000. The financial risk of taking on a fixer upper at this price is fairly minimal.
Second, it could become a source of income. I am hopeful demolition, rebuilding and restoration will be completed by about August 1st next year. At that time, I would like to offer it as a Vacation Rental By Owner, VRBO. The property is near the Estes Park area and I would market it to people who are looking for a quiet place in the woods for their short-term stay.
Next, the thought of being the general contractor on this project is exciting. I have already learned a lot from visiting with the planners at the county building department, a structural engineer and visiting websites on codes, permits and even sealed vaults for septic. Designing the new structure will probably be my favorite part of the process. I have already drawn a rough sketch of the proposed layout of the new addition. Fun stuff!
Lastly, I have always (since about seventh grade) wanted a home in the woods. Since moving to Colorado over 20 years ago I have wanted a cabin in the mountains. Since I have a passion for taking on a fixer upper and I have always wanted a cabin in the woods, this one is a pretty good fit.