kitchen being renovated

Buying a Fixer-Upper: Is It Really Worth It?

kitchen being renovated

Should you buy a fully finished home or put money into a fixer-upper? This is a big question for people buying property in BC. 

The right renos can boost a home’s value significantly, but there are risks too. Renovations are expensive and unforeseen setbacks can cost you big.  That said, even if it doesn’t seem like you are saving much buying a fixer-upper (especially with recent Nanaimo real estate prices) it can still be tempting to leave your mark. 

Want to make the right choice when buying a fixer upper in BC? Here is our guide to choosing the right option, and knowing how to spot the right property in your local real estate listings

Advantages of Fixer Upper Homes

The main reason that buyers are interested in fixer uppers is lower cost. Buyers will weigh the savings they make against the approximate spend of all the renovations that need to be completed.

Buyers are also concerned with the value they can add to the home, especially when viewing it as an investment property. This can be a tough calculation to make on the spot, so it is best to be conservative when crunching the numbers. 

As well, many buyers also assume they can save money with “do-it-yourself” fixes for all but the most major renovations. 

Drawbacks of Fixer Upper Homes

Renovating a new home is exciting. It’s an opportunity to put your vision into action and learn some DIY skills along the way.

But, anyone who has purchased a fixer upper before knows that renovating can also mean ballooning budgets and blown timelines. This  can eat up time and money, and you will need to consider these costs when you decide whether to buy the home.

Recent price hikes for building materials have been a lesson for home renovators. Disruptions in the supply chain should be expected at some point during your home renovation journey. 

When prices of lumber and other building materials rise, you may be put in a tough position: wait in your unfinished home until prices eventually settle, or “bite the bullet” and get your renos done on time for a higher cost.

As well, finding reputable contractors can be hard work. The best local teams will often be booked up for months in advance, and delays can be common.

It can also be hard to live in a home that is being renovated. Think of the last time  you went without a kitchen or bathroom for a day, then imagine  you will be spending months with at least something being worked on in your home. 

If these factors aren’t enough to make you think twice, remember that renovations need to comply with your local building codes, and additional costs come in the form of building permits, disposal fees, architectural drawings, and much more. 

In conclusion: a lot can go wrong when you buy a fixer upper. The only way to know what to expect is by experiencing it firsthand.

Finding the Right Fixer Upper

If you decide on buying a fixer upper, you will need to know what to look for when checking your local real estate listings.  Here are a few things to keep in mind.

First, confirm whether the renovations you would make are cosmetic or structural. Cosmetic renovations are easier for you to do yourself, like drywall repair or floor finishing.

Structural renovations will likely require the help of a contractor. This includes anything to do with the plumbing, electrical, roof system, or foundation of the home. Many experienced renovators shy away from homes requiring any structural work due to the excessively high cost.

Next,consider the location of the home. If the neighbourhood is becoming more desirable, you could see a larger increase in the value of your home aside from the renovations you are doing.

Be realistic about your DIY skills. A willingness to be “handy” goes a long way, but you should ask the opinion of experienced friends and family so you don’t get in over your head.

Above all, take the time to complete a full home inspection before you put an offer in on a home. There’s nothing worse than starting off a renovation by finding out about some unexpected problems.

Ready to Get Renovating?

assorted tools arranged on surface

Fixing up older or underutilized homes is a passion project for some and also a way to earn a profit. Nanaimo real estate prices are strong, and many buyers are getting into the market by investing in fixer uppers. 

Have you caught the reno bug? Learn about the best fixer upper homes on the market by getting in touch with Jeff King Real Estate. We know how to find great deals on homes with potential in some of Nanaimo’s up-and-coming neighbourhoods–and we love working with people who don’t mind getting their hands dirty or cooking dinner on the back porch for a few weeks. 

couple painting a room

What to Fix Before Selling Your Home

couple painting a room

Keeping your home in good condition can feel like a full time job. Unless you have plenty of time on your hands, it’s difficult to repair everything that you need to.

When you are thinking about selling your home, you may have to make some tough decisions about what gets fixed first. In the red hot Nanaimo real estate market, properties have been going fast!

Here are the most important things to fix before selling your home. When the time comes, check out our blog post on finding the right contractor so you can trust that the job is being done right.

Repairing vs. Upgrading

There is a fine line between repairs and upgrades around the house. Generally, repairs are important fixes that you can make to maintain the value of your home. Upgrades are optional fixes that increase the value of your home.

Upgrades usually involve something new, like new appliances or hardwood floors where carpet used to be. 

Kitchen Appliances

The kitchen is one of the most important areas of the home and it also goes through a lot of wear and tear. Appliances need special attention. Take care of any leaks or minor malfunctions, and check your fridge to see if it needs a new water filter or a freon replacement.

Kitchen Cabinets

Loose hinges, stuck drawer tracks, or chipped paint are examples of issues that you can fix with a quick trip to the hardware store and some DIY YouTube videos. 

You should look for the beginning signs of water damage or rot, especially in cabinets that are close to your sink or dishwasher. Even if these signs are purely cosmetic, it can convince a buyer that there are other plumbing issues lurking below the surface.

Wiring and Electrical Issues

Defective or outdated wiring will be one of the first things noticed in a home inspection. This will make potential buyers wary, so it is much better to resolve any issues with a licenced electrician.

Smaller issues could include faulty light switches or missing wire nuts, which are relatively easy to fix. Larger problelms, such as circuit breaker replacements or other internal issues, could cost you $1,000 or more.

Carpets and Flooring

Damage to flooring is easy to spot by a potential buyer when they are being shown your home. Many common flooring problems are easy to fix for a low cost

Look for cracked tiles, scratched hardwood, or stained carpeting first. When it comes to carpeting, ripping out a stained or dirty carpet and leaving the unfinished floor below is preferred. 


bathroom sink

Just like in the kitchen, cabinets are a point of concern that are easy enough to fix with new drawer pulls and hinges. Refinishing a bathtub or shower is also a good idea, as is doing what you can to fix chipped tiles and countertops. 

The main concern in your bathroom is plumbing and water damage. Water stains from past plumbing issues are a problem, as are clogged drains and barely-functioning bathroom fans. 

A bathroom may seem like a lost cause after years of use, but there are many quick solutions to common problems. If you aren’t sure where to start, hire a trusted contractor to help inform your decisions.

Repaint Walls

Painting can be an awful lot of work, especially in rooms that have been lived in for years. But switching to a neutral colour is much better for new buyers who will have their own ideas about the interior design of the home.

There is one exception to this. If a room is already dark and uninviting (perhaps a cool basement room without natural light), keeping the room a warmer colour is the right choice. 

Think about colour schemes that appeal to a wide audience, and give a “neutral” makeover to those accent walls.  Avoid colours that may divide your audience, like bright primary colours or patterns.

Exterior Drainage

A buyer in the Vancouver Island real estate market should be aware of the region’s notoriously wet climate. Anywhere that water pools near the foundation of your home is a major red flag – even if you haven’t had any issues with flooding yet. 

Make sure that the ground slopes away from your home around its perimeter and watch how water flows through your downspouts. If you notice anything that could be a problem, get in touch with a contractor to grade your yard properly.


Even if your yard isn’t a place you spend a lot of time, you should still do what you can to make it look appealing. Your yard will be the first thing potential buyers see when they arrive, and it has a big impact on their overall impression. 

Clean up weeds and overgrowth first. Trim back hedges or trees that are touching the home, and tackle any piles of junk that we all know can pile up over the years. 

Key Takeaways

tray of white paint

When you start talking to your realtor in Nanaimo about selling your home, you will likely hear about the strength of the market as the community continues to grow, thanks to its infrastructure and amenities.

But this is no reason to think that you don’t need to fix some things up before you sell your home. Jeff King Real Estate can help you stand out among the homes for sale in Nanaimo, and command an excellent sale price with some DIY work around the house or the services of a good contractor.

Do you have more questions about buying or selling in Nanaimo? Have a chat with the Jeff King today. 

Renovate Your Landscape

A well-landscaped property can add 20% to your home’s value, and has an average return of 100-200% at the time of sale. Even if you’re not thinking of selling now, summer is a great time to spruce up your landscape and make it a place you enjoy spending time.

Keep your yard in top shape if your home is for sale. A potential buyer may overlook your home if they can’t see past overgrown shrubs and weeds! 

6 Helpful Tips to help your yard stand out:

  1. Make your square or rectangular yard look more spacious by planting flower beds one ash corner. This will make the centre of your yard appear larger. Place taller plants toward the back of your flower beds; that way they won’t overshadow smaller plants, and you’ll create the illusion of depth in your garden.
  2. Revitalize sparse hedges and shrubs by covering their roots and applying fertilizer. Shrubs may become thin when the topsoil from around the roots washes away or diminishes over time.
  3. Apply a thin layer of mulch a few inches from the base of the tree. Many people make the mistake of mounding mulch around the base, which may attract pests.
  4. Create privacy with large shrubs or trellises covered with climbing vines.
  5. Use a simpler palette of no more than three colours that complement your home’s colour scheme. This ties the space together and improves curb appeal.
  6. Focus on the foliage of the plant. Choose plants that have leaves in a variety of shapes, textures and patterns. If you want your landscape to bloom year round, choose plants that bloom at different times of the year.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Jeff King today.

Hire the Right Contractor

Hiring a contractor can be stressful, especially if you’re planning a major renovation. Use the following guidelines to help you hire the right person for your next home project. These tips also apply if you’re hiring a tradesperson or service professional to tackle any project around the home.

Get referrals. Ask your family, friends and neighbours for the name of contractors or trades professionals they’ve used and make a list of companies that serve your area. I work with reputable contracts and other professionals in our local area, so give me a call for a referral.

Get in touch. Once you have a list of companies, call them and ask if they specialize in your type of project. If you’re renovating the kitchen, you’ll want a company that has completed several similar kitchen renovations; they’ll know the applicable regulations and codes that pertain to your project. Ask how many other projects they’re managing at the moment, as this may impact when they can begin working on your renovation.

Research your options. Contact your province’s consumer protection agency to review the reputation of the companies on your list. Check online consumer review sites. If possible, call previous clients and ask specific questions pertaining to their experience working with the company. Schedule times with the companies to see completed projects so you can get an idea of the level of quality to expect.

Also, verify that all companies under consideration are licensed and check for any past judgements against them from prior jobs. In most provinces, all major remodelling projects must be done by a licensed contractor. Be aware that if you use an unlicensed contractor, you may be responsible for any work that is not to code or injuries your worker incurs on the job.

Meet the contractors in person. Meeting face-to-face not only allows you to ask more questions, it also provides insight into their character and attention to detail in the way they present themselves and their company. Since you’ll be working closely with the contractor and team, you’ll want to make sure you trust them.

Sort out the details before work begins.

Payment: If your project is large, you may pay 10% upon signing the contract, followed by three milestone payments of 25% over the duration of the project. The final 15% is often due upon completion of the project. Use the milestone payments as a time to review the project’s status and ensure your expectations and the contract standards are being met.

Time: If you’d like the work to be done during a particular window of time or have other requests, discuss them with the contractor beforehand.

Expectations: Understand what the contractor expects from you. For example, do you need to clear the room before work begins? Will you need to board your pet?

Get everything in writing: The contract should include a payment schedule, proof of insurance, start and completion dates and lien releases from all subcontractors and suppliers, which is obtained by the contractor. The contract should also include:

  • A detailed description of the project, explaining the materials to be used and what is being subcontracted. Keep in mind, the description will not cover any unexpected work uncovered during the renovation.
  • All building permits that will be obtained by the contractor and reassurance that the work will be compliant with current building codes.
  • A statement of warranties, including what is covered and for how long.
  • A statement of contractor’s liability and property damage insurance.
  • Price and terms of payment.

Be on the lookout. Beware of doing business with contractors who do the following:

  • Give you a quote before seeing the job.
  • Demand a large deposit upfront to purchase materials. Most contractors will have a charge account with suppliers.
  • Insist you sign a contract on the first visit. Once you’ve discussed the project with a contractor, they’ll likely come back with a plan or drawings and a written estimate of the project.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Jeff King today.

home reno graphic

How to Boost Curb Appeal

If you’re thinking of selling this year, I would be happy to help you decide which of these projects would net the best value. Even if you’re not planning to sell any time soon, updating and maintaining your home regularly shows you take pride in owning it.

Wash the exterior. Over the years, dirt, grime and cobwebs can collect on your home’s exterior. A pressure washer can remove this buildup and give your home a fresh look, while at the same time adding value. Also, wash the windows (inside and out) and clean the gutters, downspouts and all doors, including garage doors.

Paint. Paint is a sure-fire way to boost the curb appeal of your home and make it the envy of your neighbourhood. Update your home with a coat of paint or two of the same colour, scrape a small swatch and bring it to the paint store to match it. Specialized paint store may retain the name of the colour you choose to use again for touch ups. Also paint the door, trim and shutters in a shade that compliments the rest of your home. Remember to prep the surface area before you start painting to help the paint last longer.

If you’re planning to sell soon, avoid unusual colours. Homes painted unusual shades may be appraised lower if they don’t fit in with the comparable homes on the market.

Install vinyl siding. Protect the exterior of your home with vinyl siding. Vinyl and premium vinyl siding are offered in a wide range of colours and are durable and low-maintenance. Premium vinyl lasts longer and may also integrate insulation. To keep it looking like new, clean it with a power washer periodically.

Although vinyl siding tends to be low-maintenance, you may have to replace your siding if you notice moisture or damage from hail, wildlife or extreme weather.

Repair or replace the roof. If your roof is in good shape, hire a professional to clean it and remove moss and dirt that have built up. If your roof is due for a replacement, it may be best to do so before you list it. If you aren’t planning to sell your home soon, maintaining it may help you avoid expensive repairs in the future.

Pay attention to the details. These details include door hardware and handles, light fixtures and house numbers. Polish the hardware or replace it with a style that compliments the home, such as oiled bronze for traditional styles and brushed nickel for contemporary styles. Purchase new numbers with the same finish as your hardware or purchase an address plaque to affix to your home or place in your yard. Update the style of your exterior lighting. If you’re replacing lights, look for ones that have the same mounting system as your current ones. Add more lighting to increase the safety of your entryway by adding an overhead fixture or wall sconces.

Nurture your landscape. A well-maintained landscape and lawn add to the home’s appeal, creating colourful dimensions and attractive lines. Mow the lawn regularly, mulch and weed the garden beds and prune any overgrown shrubs. Also, clear away any overgrown vines or invasive weeds that have crept into your landscape. In addition to mowing the lawn, add seed or sod to any bare spots you see. Add colour to your landscape with a few potted plants and flowers. If you have window boxes, be sure to maintain them throughout the growing season.

Build a fence. A fence not only increases privacy for homeowners, it may add value to your property as long as it fits with the style of the home and neighbourhood. If you already have a fence, keep it well maintained, and replace any broken gates, latches or planks.

Stay on top of maintenance. Performing regular maintenance not only helps prevent costly damage, it can also augment the value of your home. Studies show deferred maintenance may decrease your home’s value by as much as 10%. Tasks such as replacing missing mortar between bricks, resealing cracked asphalt and touching up faded or cracked paint may seem insignificant; however, these small imperfections may stand out to potential buyers and leave a negative impression, especially in competitive markets.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Jeff King today.

tools for home maintenance

Home Maintenance Made Easy

A home is the largest investment that most people will make in their lives. Make sure that it stays in tip-top shape by staying on top of its maintenance. Here are some great tips to follow for each season!

In the winter:

Cover your central air conditioning unit or remove your window air conditioners.

Change/clean furnace filters.

Clean your kitchen appliances.

Clean your drains.

Close crawl space vents.

In the spring:

Clear gutters of debris.

Inspect your roof and chimney.

Wash your windows, and check the window screens.

Thoroughly clean your home, and clear any clutter.

Paint your home’s exterior.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Change the batteries in them, if necessary.

In the summer:

Install window air conditioners.

Clean the filters in your home’s HVAC system.

Drain/flush your water heater.

Open crawl space vents.

Look for insect problems, especially termite damage.

In the fall:

Clear gutters of debris before the weather changes.

Inspect your roof.

Have your chimney cleaned and inspected, if you didn’t do it in the spring.

Check for leaks and drafts, and repair them.

Get your furnace inspected and repaired.

Test your smoke and carbon monoxide detectors. Change the batteries in them, if necessary.

3 Benefits of Maintaining Your Home

Prevent costly repairs. Home repairs can be expensive if they’re not caught in time. Maintaining your home can help you find and correct potential problems before they take a chunk out of your wallet.

Keep your home and its systems humming. Staying on top of home maintenance ensures that your home and its systems work well when you need them.

Improve salability of the home. Most buyers want a home that’s been well taken care of, and will pay closer to list price for it.

Want to learn more? Get in touch with Jeff King today.