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Signs that renovator’s delight could be a money pit

The home needs some work, but has potential written all over it. It’s a place that can be renovated with a relatively small amount of money, and then lived in or re-sold for a profit. Perfect, right? Unfortunately, these dream renovations all too often turn into money pits, and have the renovator living in or pouring money into them endlessly.

While it can be hard to tell a money pit from an ideal renovation prospect, there are signs.

1. Cracks and crevices

red flag

In many cases, the walls of a home may show cracks and crevices in corners and along baseboards if the home has shifted due to foundation issues. Sometimes these cracks are caulked and covered with paint, so pay particularly close attention.

2. Inside and underneath

Remember no home ready for renovations is vacant because the previous owner loved it. In many cases, there were problems with the electrical system or plumbing that made the residents leave.

These issues can turn a simple, perfect renovation into a nightmare. Have both checked by professional building inspectors to know what has to be done.

3. Unseen dangers

Mould is a huge issue in many homes, especially those in areas that have been hit by storms in the past. Black mould can be particularly harmful, and is both difficult and expensive to remove.


Many homeowners choose to move rather than deal with mould. Unfortunately, mould can be hard to find.

Check the baseboards and underneath the home, if possible, for signs of high water and mould.

4. Something is rotten…

It’s always a nightmare when a renovator removes windows or panelling inside a home only to find rotten wood rather than strong, stable boards.

Use a screwdriver to poke around windows and door jambs, especially if the areas have been custom-painted. Sometimes thick, custom paint can hide signs of rot.

5. Revenge of the bugs

They always hide in the daylight and never seem to come out when a potential renovator is looking at a home: the bugs. Consider that the home could be vacant because of a creepy, crawly problem.

Termites, wood ants, spiders, and, of course, cockroaches, can infest a home and be expensive to exterminate. Investigate, and carry a big stick.

6.Too good to be true

We’ve all heard the saying, “if it seems too good to be true, it probably is.”

Any home that has been vacant for long enough to be available and looks nearly flawless on the outside most likely has some major problem, somewhere. Have the foundation and roof thoroughly inspected before signing on the bottom line, as these can be major issues in a home.

7. Everybody needs good neighbours


Unfortunately, even the most perfect potential renovation can be ruined by the people who surround it.

Investigate the neighbourhood fully, because the people next door could be part of the reason why it is – and will stay – vacant, no matter how perfect the home seems and how handy your DIY skills are.

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