Best Tips for Taking on a Fixer Upper: A Jacksonville Example

Gwinn Volen

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Have a little money in your pocket and want a new project? Seen a few HGTV shows, some fantastic before and afters and want to try and buy something that needs TLC? Team Young & Volen of Ponte Vedra Club Realty has a listing, 552 Rutile Drive, we can use to illustrate tips for taking on a fixer-upper.

Location. Always the First Thing to Consider

Photo Credit: Ponte Vedra Club Realty, Inc.

This property is one block from the Atlantic Ocean and sits on a large lot with a pool and expansive lagoon views. The school district is top in the state of Florida and the neighborhood, Old Ponte Vedra Beach, has seen exponential growth over the last few years. These are all immobile benefits of investing in real estate and should be considered in any purchase.

Once you’ve settled on the right location, the next step is the home inspection.

Inspections: Know What You Are Getting Into

Some inspections will reveal older wiring or plumbing that some buyers won’t want to take on. As an investor, it’s about calculating costs and ROI. Other times, an inspection can highlight the quality of the building materials or the care in maintaining the house. Either way, an inspection will separate the wants versus the needs.

Builder Weigh-In: Bring Your Contractor

Photo Credit: Ponte Vedra Club Realty, Inc.

Walking through the house with a licensed contractor is a good way to get a solid idea of what all your great ideas will cost. Find someone who respects your choices, sees your vision and shares the same design aesthetic. They will be a priceless asset in your reno project.

In this house, the paneling, built-ins and gas fireplace with vaulted ceilings are original elements a buyer could love and want to keep. Add a wood treatment to the ceiling, paint, change the flooring and cabinet hardware, and the room is transformed.

There’s no true cost per foot for renovations, but a builder can help you develop your budget. It’s better for them to over-estimate than under-estimate. So, make sure you bring someone you trust.

Photo Credit: Ponte Vedra Club Realty, Inc.

Home improvements adding the most value to a property include kitchen and bathroom remodels.

Depending on the condition, a kitchen can cost anywhere between $5000 to $100,000.
If the budget is large and substantial improvements are wanted, permits must be pulled for electrical, plumbing, structural or roof work.

Conversely, small changes can make a big impact. In the kitchen of this house, painting the cabinets, changing the backsplash and replacing the countertop are relatively small investments resulting in a very different look.

Enjoy the Process

Even after the inspections, the talk with the contractor and a decision on a final budget there are bound to be some surprises. It’s important to stay flexible and patient. Renovations can
cost as much as a new build and take a long time but if you can enjoy the process the end result will be that much sweeter.

About the Author: Gwinn Volen is a real estate agent serving the Jacksonville, FL area. She lives in Ponte Vedra Beach, FL. Visit her website at if you have buying or selling needs in the Jacksonville area.


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