How to Make Your New Fixer-Upper a Safer Residence

So, you’ve decided to purchase a fixer-upper home? Or maybe you’ve already bought one. Congratulations! Buying a fixer-upper can be a great investment, but your new fixer-upper likely isn’t ready to live in yet. Here are some tips to make sure that your fixer-upper is a safe residence.

Fix Foundation Damage

Everything decays over time, but if your foundation is decaying, it causes problems. The foundation of your home holds up the entire weight of the home, and protects your home from moisture, and protects you and your home in case of natural disasters. That’s why it can be important to catch foundation problems as early as possible by watching for signs that foundation may be damaged.

Depending on the scale of damage, there are some fixes you can perform yourself. If you are unsure, often the best option is to reach out to a foundation repair professional. Because the foundation is so important to keeping your home safe, you must repair it well.

Earthquake Protection

Repairing your foundation helps to protect your house against earthquakes, but there are many other ways to help prepare your home for an earthquake. Many fixer-uppers are not equipped with the type of earthquake protection needed.

Do an earthquake preparedness inspection of your home. Are you aware of where the gas shut-off valve is? Is it in good condition? Is the water heater braced against the wall? Is the chimney reinforced? Are the windows made of good, earthquake-proof materials, or do they need an extra film to help them out? Learn more about the earthquake risks where you live, and any suggested precautions in your area.


Water is necessary for survival, yes, but it also causes a lot of damage. Water damage in your home weakens the structure and causes other health concerns such as mold. If your home is not properly built to keep water away, it can also cause damage to the foundation.

Water can enter and damage your home in a variety of ways. It can slip in through cracks in the foundation, the roof, windows, and doors. Consider waterproofing your foundation. Not only can you add a special layer to protect the foundation, but you can redirect water away from your house using gutters. Also check for gaps between the windows and doors and the walls, especially those windows and doors that lead to the outside. If there are gaps, fill in these gaps with sealant.

Replace the Roof

Replacing the roof is a great way to keep the elements out of your house, but in a fixer-upper house, it is likely that the roof has been damaged over time and needs to be replaced. Maybe there is some rot, maybe it has been damaged by a storm, maybe the snow has caused some cracking. Regardless of the reason, it is important to consider replacing the roof in your fixer-upper house to make it safer (and avoid higher cost repairs later).

There are many types of roofing material to consider. Pick what will be best for your home and situation. One important thing you should think about is the fire hazard risk. Stone-coated metal roofing is safer because it poses less of a fire hazard risk.

Pest Control

It’s possible that you have more residents living at your fixer-upper home than meets the eye. They’ve had more time to settle in and make a home for themselves, and it is sometimes impossible to catch a pest infestation early on. If pest problems are not brought under control, they can be bad for your health and the structure of the house.

It can be very difficult to see whether a fixer-upper home has a serious pest problem, but it is always worth looking into. Find a good pest control company that you can trust near you, and schedule a pest inspection. As professionals, they will know what signs to look for, especially for your area and climate. During an inspection, the pest control expert will examine your home and assess whether you have a problem and how to fix it.

Repairing the Deck

Another section of the house that can be neglected for a long time is the deck. Since it is outside and causing no immediate inconvenience to the residents, the previous owners may have not put enough attention to maintaining their deck. However, having a problem with the deck can cause serious problems down the road and get steadily more expensive to fix.

Look for chipping in the wood, peeling finish, rot, drooping boards, or other potential problems. Depending on the problem, you may be able to easily do the repairs yourself.

Remove Asbestos and Lead Paint

Many old homes have asbestos (a substance found in popcorn ceilings) or lead paint. Asbestos has been linked to cancer and leads to serious health problems. Both of these substances are extremely dangerous when disturbed. Though they can be harmless when left undisturbed, it’s best to get them out of your fixer-upper before you move in. If you want to do any sort of projects, such as remodeling projects, they must be removed.

The removal of these substances needs to be handled by professionals to keep you and others safe. Talk with your house inspector about how to find asbestos and lead paint problems and who in your area would be best for the job.

EMP Inspection

There are several systems to inspect in your fixer-upper to make sure that they are up to date. This includes the electrical system, the mechanical system (the HVAC system or heating, ventilating, and air conditioning), and the plumbing. If any of these systems are not working properly, they can cause significant damage to your home, or, especially in the case of the electricity, cause a fire. Talk to a professional about having an inspection, and do some basic inspection yourself.

There is a lot to do for a fixer-upper home, but don’t worry. It’ll be worth it to ensure your safety or the safety of others. Whether you’re choosing to purchase a fixer-upper to flip it, get into a particular neighborhood, or to save money, you can create a lovely home that is safe and comfortable.

Read this next: What an Untreated Pest Infestation Does to Your Home


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