Lindsey Buys a Fixer-Upper: Part 1, Landscaping

Lindsey Buys a Fixer-Upper: Part 1, Landscaping

By Lindsey Wolf Lunney
Last May, my husband and I bought an older home, built in 1966. We had not been looking for a fixer-upper, but because we loved the location, we bought it anyway. As those of you who have renovated a home know, taking on a fixer-upper is a challenging process. I wrote this blog in hopes that it might make the process easier for others who are thinking of taking on a big project like this one.

Understand the Scope of Work Before You Buy

When we initially bought the house we thought we would only be removing wall paper, removing old carpet, painting and putting in new flooring. The bathrooms, roof and windows had recently been updated, so that was good. We thought we would redo the kitchen at a later date. Oh, how naive we were. Being a responsible Realtor, I had all the inspections done. In addition to a general inspection, we tested the air quality for mold, and had the wall paper, drywall and flooring tested for asbestos. We checked for lead based paint on the interior and exterior, scoped the sewe line, and did a meth screening.  We found mold and asbestos, and a sewer line with tons of roots in the clay tile. And this was just the beginning…

Starting on the Outside

We addressed the sewer line and landscaping first.  The sewer was a simple decision, it had to be replaced. Because the sewer line had “bellies” in it (areas that dip down and rise up, making it harder for water and solids to move through) it could not be repaired. Digging up the sewer line launched a whole new landscaping plan. The landscaper determined that the sprinkler box in the back yard was leaking significantly. That box and many of the sprinklers needed to be replaced. The sellers had also experienced some flooding in September 2013, which they failed to disclose. A neighbor across the golf course told us she saw them bailing out buckets of water. Knowing that, we decided to evaluate the gutters and drainage system.  In the end, we put in all new LeafGuard gutters, new French drains, and a retaining wall. None of these expenses that were in the original plan, but necessary to ensure the future integrity of the home.

Next time: Mold and Asbestos


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Compass is a licensed real estate broker. All material is intended for informational purposes only and is compiled from sources deemed reliable but is subject to errors, omissions, changes in price, condition, sale, or withdrawal without notice. No statement is made as to the accuracy of any description or measurements (including square footage). This is not intended to solicit property already listed. No financial or legal advice provided. Equal Housing Opportunity. Photos may be virtually staged or digitally enhanced and may not reflect actual property conditions.