“Do you have the guts to take on a fixer upper?”

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!

taking on a fixer upper
Photo by slc

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.

taking on a fixer upper
photo by slc

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.

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