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Reality and Most "Fixers"

Before you try to emulate your favorite home renovation expert on TV, go back, double check and even triple check all your calculations on that “fixer upper”.

That’s the message of a new survey, which found that despite the glamour and the plethora of TV programs devoted to home renovation, most amateur fixer-uppers end up wasting a lot of time and money. Once you factor in all the costs involved, the renovation project often turned out to be no cheaper than just buying a home in move-in condition.

“Even though the majority of fixer-upper homeowners thought they could save money, they actually spent about the same or more than their move-in ready counterparts,” reported, a home improvement website, which sponsored the survey.

Their survey of 1,069 U.S. homeowners found that those who had bought a home that was move-in ready spent an average of $250,000.

Those who bought a “fixer upper” spent an average of about $50,000 less. But then they typically spent that amount, or more, on the renovations, the survey found..

OK, so it may not be apples to apples. Buying your own home and renovating it gives you a greater chance to tailor it to your own dreams and needs. But the costs were comparable, nonetheless. And those who just bought a home that was “move-in” ready saved themselves a lot of time and anguish.

The biggest problem with fixer uppers? The danger of running over budget, and trust me, it happens to many of us even with the best of intentions. It’s very easy to get carried away looking at all the “latest and greatest” available today.

More than forty percent of those who bought fixer uppers ended up blowing way past their budget. On average they ended up spending about $76,000 on renovations, or 60% more than those who were able to stick to their budget.

Among those who bust the budget, there was no common perpetrator either. For some it was the costs of repairing the roof. For others it was the costs of fixing the basement. New kitchens were about as likely to cause pain as new bathrooms. The same can be said for new flooring, driveways, upgrades to plumbing and electrical systems can easily run amuck. Installing new HVAC systems proved to be one of the most likely projects to run over budget, but not by a great margin. You never know what’s going to turn your dream home into a “money pit” until it does.

About forty percent of those who shattered their budget said they wouldn’t buy their current home again!

Professional home restoration programs on TV have become a cultural phenomenon leading many to believe the process is as simple and straightforward as portrayed on your favorite program. Please keep in mind that television tends to distort reality.

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