Regret and home renovations: is it worth it?
June 12, 2014 7:19 PM Subscribe
I am considering two properties for purchase. One of them is straightforward and the other is complicated (multiple parcels, over 20 acres of land, has tenants living in the cottage, needs to be significantly renovated). I am looking for those with experience to offer advice on whether purchasing a property with major issues like this is worth it.
posted by treehorn+bunny to Home & Garden (40 answers total)
A tale of two properties:
One of them is a very straightforward, beautiful house which needs very little work done to it, on 1.6 acres of land. It's a bigger house than we need and the yard is lovely but is just a yard, not a piece of land that could be used for any sort of farming purpose (and zoning rules wouldn't allow it anyway).
The second property is a 1900s homestead on a 20 acre farm, that was gut-renovated and rebuilt with an addition in 1986. It therefore has central air and heat and is in acceptable condition, but to be updated to the condition that we'd want it in, it needs: another significant addition to enlarge the kitchen, family room and master bedroom, complete redo of all the bathrooms (2 upstairs, 1 downstairs) and the kitchen, replace 1980s wooden trim, all the light fixtures, etc. Also, there are two parcels taken out of the land - one has a cottage on it that's ramshackle and essentially needs to be torn down, but has tenants living in it who have been there for 10 years and don't want to leave (and yes, we do know what's involved in an eviction process, although hopefully it wouldn't come to that). The other is just land, but both of these parcels are essential pieces of what is valuable about this land and we would not want the property if we could not get all 3 pieces. The good sides: this is a gorgeous property in a convenient location with streams, ponds, forest, old growth trees. The current owners hardly have to do anything with the 20 acres - the farmer who owns the surrounding land mows it for them and plants corn in the back fields. To be very clear, the home is in very acceptable condition and could be lived in for years the way it is right now, the major renovation we would want would be to make it very fancy and elegant (i.e. crown moldings, hardwoods, etc)
I would love to have the larger piece of land - it makes me very happy to go walking through the woods and through the fields there, to see the wildlife and to sit by the pond. I have a dream of someday doing some limited farming-type activities (nothing intense, on the level of having a hen house and a little flock of chickens, maybe a goat) and I could never achieve this dream on the 1.6 acre property because livestock wouldn't be allowed there. I'm having trouble making the decision because it would be so much easier to buy the property that doesn't have all the complications attached to it. I have no idea how I'm going to feel about those home renovations during the process or afterwards. What do others who have been in similar situations advise doing with a decision like this? I feel like you only hear the horror stories about major renovation type projects and never hear anyone say "it was a challenge but it happened approximately on schedule and for approximately what we budgeted on it, and we're so glad we did it because now we have our dream home." It is hard to put a value on my dream of a very small hobby farm and what it means to give that up, but I feel like I have a better handle on that than the renovation/property wrangling angle of things.
Money isn't "no object", but it's not a problem for us, either. We don't have an option of waiting for a similar but better property with farm potential to come on the market, we've been looking as long as we could and now we need to move ASAP. Any advice?