Buying a Handyman Special? Here’s What Home Renovations Really Cost

Most real estate markets have at least a handful of Handyman Special listings. Faded homes that need a little TLC have sparked the imagination of enthusiastic first home buyers and penny pinchers for generations. Just be careful not to get in over your head.

Here’s what you can expect to pay for some of the most common renovations and repairs.

Rewire the Whole House: $8,000-$15,000

Electrical work isn’t cheap and most older houses need an upgrade or two. According to Angie’s List, a total rewiring job could set you back over $10,000 on a 3,000 square foot home. Fortunately, many homes are safe as-is and only need a few updates, such as a new breaker panel, outlets or GFCI protection in the kitchen and bathrooms. Unless your home inspector says the wiring isn’t safe, you probably won’t need major electrical work until you tackle major renovations.

Home inspection

Install a New Roof: $5,000-$10,000

Roofs take a year-round beating. Classic asphalt shingles last about 15 years, while tile and metal can last much longer. If your inspector finds roofing defects, you might get by with repairs for a while. Eventually, you’ll need a replacement. Advisor says the mid-range cost for asphalt shingles is about $7,000. Factors such as the roof pitch, local code requirements and obstacles such as skylights and plumbing vent stacks, affect the final cost.

Replace the Plumbing: $4,000-$10,000

When plumbing works best, you rarely notice it at all. When it doesn’t, it can ruin your whole day. Some homes need a full plumbing replacement. For example, the water supply lines might be corroded or the previous homeowner might have taken on DIY repairs without the right skills. According to House Logic, a mid-range total plumbing replacement for a two-bedroom home costs about $5,000. In some cases, it’s less expensive to gut the whole plumbing system and install a new one from scratch than it is to make piece-by-piece repairs.

Restore Hardwood Floors: $1,000-$2,500

One of the joys of buying an older house is finding wood floors under layers of tacky carpet and kitchen vinyl. Restoration is one of the most affordable projects that you can tackle. Home Advisor says the average cost is about $1,600. If the floors aren’t gouged and splintered, consider scrubbing them down with a wood-safe cleaner and applying several coats of floor polish that’s made especially for wood floors. Don’t apply vinyl floor shine products, and definitely don’t apply new urethane over the old. It won’t stick unless you lightly sand the whole floor first.

Check out this video on refinishing wood:

Install New Windows: $2,500-$20,000

Some homeowners think new windows will make a big difference in utility costs and comfort. If the existing windows are in terrible condition, that might be true. In many cases, window replacement can safely wait on the to-do list for a few years. In fact, older, single-pane wood-frame windows are usually repairable. With Low-E window film, some of them can achieve a comparable level of UV and heat transfer protection as new double-pane windows. According to Home Advisor,  you should expect to pay at least $14,000 if you replace 10 or more windows.

Your certified home inspector’s report will outline home defects that need attention. Depending on your level of DIY skill, contractor budget, or both, a Handyman Special could turn into something that you’re proud to call home.

Are you trying to find a reputable home inspector but aren’t sure where to turn? Hire an Inspector can help. Let us do the legwork and find a home inspector near you.