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1 Key Tip When Buying Your 1st Fixer Home

there is something so special about buying your first home! amidst all the wonderful feelings of excitement and anticipation, you’re also hoping you made the right decision by purchasing the property. 

if you’re like my husband & I, your first home will likely be a “fixer-upper”; meaning, it needs a little or A LOT of work to truly make it seem like home (thanks to California housing prices). it can feel a bit overwhelming tackling the project, especially committing to the hidden costs that always come with older homes. 

so, to save you at least 1 headache, I will share with you my #1 Tip when buying a fixer home.

T’s Tip: Buy a home with a crawl space foundation instead of a slab foundation! 

the first home we bought was built on a concrete slab. meaning, after the builders laid out the plumbing, sewer lines, etc… they poured concrete over it all to create a slab foundation to build the house on. 

this is not your friend when you are remodeling a house for multiple reasons. 

  1. if you want to move plumbing lines (i.e…where your toilet or vanity is located), you have to saw cut & demo the existing slab on grade which is a laborious and expensive process! not saying it’s not possible, just one less headache I try to avoid. 
  2. if your house resides in an area with a lot of soil movement, make sure there is a proper foundation and that the piers are drilled to bedrock. in the older 1950-1970 houses with slab on grades, we have seen many cases of floors sloping over time due to movement causing the slab to crack & drop in that certain location. see example pic below! 
After demoing the original floors, we could clearly see the slope of the floors due to the soil movement under the concrete slab foundation. We tried to remedy this by floating concrete on the slopped areas.

now, you may be wondering what a crawl-space foundation is…

essentially, it means your home was built on top of the dirt, and there is literally “crawl space” under your home to move around. this means, you could get under your house and see the exposed plumbing lines, sewer lines and more. 

this is helpful because if you want to change the layout of your kitchen or bathroom, it is easy to access the plumbing lines to change it up! less time, less labor, less money spent! 

By removing the subfloor, we were able to easily move the plumbing lines in this bathroom and design it the way we wanted!

this is so important because older homes typically have funky, small layouts, and I guarantee you’ll want to renovate your space down the road. (can you say, “open floor plan!!”)

when working with your Realtor, be sure to ask about how the home was built and when it was built. i hope this tip helps and best of luck house shopping!! 



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