Last Updated on February 25, 2022 by Mark Ferguson
I fix up a lot of houses whether they are my personal house, my rental properties or my fix and flips. When I repair a house I don’t mean I do the work myself; I have a contractor do it for me. The most difficult part about fixing up a home is finding a great contractor and estimating how much the repairs will be. Estimating the costs to repair a house is not easy to do, but this article will give an idea of what repairs will cost. Repair costs will vary based on the quality of products used, how much labor costs are in your area and the contractor you use.
Update on 2021 repair prices!
I wrote this article before Covid hit the world. You might assume that Covid would decrease the prices of repairs but the opposite has happened. Repair costs have skyrocketed. Many manufacturing companies that produced materials shut down or reduced production while at the same time people were staying home and completing remodeling projects! The price of lumber, insulation, windows, doors, etc has gone much higher.
I am hoping that the market corrects itself soon but you can take most of the prices I list here and add 20 to 40 percent thanks to the increase in costs.
Why buy something that needs work?
Almost all the houses I buy need work and some need a lot of work. I would love to buy houses that are in great condition, but I want to buy houses that are a great deal. To get a great deal you usually have to buy houses that need some type of repairs, because there are fewer buyers who will buy those homes. When a house needs a lot of repairs, most buyers may not be able to get a loan on that house. The fewer buyers for a house the better deal you can get. It also takes cash to make repairs on a house, which further reduces the number of people who can buy houses that need work. Many people don’t want to hassle with making repairs or finding a contractor to make the repairs, which further reduces the buyers for homes that need work.
Even if you buy a house that is in great shape it will need work at some point. The fixtures may become outdated, the interior or exterior may need paint and things eventually break.
Below is a video on a house we flipped and how much it cost to fix up:
How much does it cost to paint?
When I fix up a house I always paint the house and replace the floor coverings, unless those items were just done. The cost to paint a house has increased a lot in the last few years because the cost of paint has increased and labor has increased as well. My costs to paint the interior of a house are about $1.50 to $2.00 a square foot. For a 1,500 square foot house, it costs about $2,200 to paint the interior. That includes painting the trim white and the walls a different color like beige or gray.
The exterior of a house costs more to paint because the paint is more expensive, more prep work is needed and the weather has to be nice. Painting the exterior of a house can run $3.00 a square foot or more depending on the complexity and condition of the house. If a home has peeling paint it will cost much more to scrape and prepare the surface for new paint. If a house has lead-based paint, the costs can be much more due to the preparation and clean up work needed to dispose of the old paint. Your contractor or painter must be certified to remove lead-based paint or they can face huge fines from the government.
How much does flooring cost?
When I replace the flooring I almost always use carpet for the living areas and vinyl or tile for the kitchens and bathrooms. If a house has hardwood I will re-finish the hardwood, but I don’t add or replace hardwood because of the cost. It will cost three times as much as carpet to install hardwood floors. For me to replace the carpet in a 1,500 square foot house it will cost about $3,000 to $3,500 installed. Vinyl or tile will cost another $500 to $1,000 for the kitchen and baths. These costs are for middle of the road materials that look nice and will last, but do not cost a fortune.
If a house already has hardwood I will do my best to re-finish it, because refinishing is cheaper than installing new carpet. I also like the look of hardwood floors and buyers love them. I can re-finish a 1,500 square foot house that is mostly hardwood for about $2,000.
We will also use laminate or vinyl plank flooring now that the quality has improved and it lasts if installed correctly.
How much are light fixtures?
Another great update to a house is replacing the light and plumbing fixtures. A house with brand new lights, door handles, and faucets that all match, can transform a home. I like to use antique bronze, but we have also used brushed nickel. Light fixtures are as cheap as 2 for $20 for a basic bedroom and bathroom lights. A nice chandelier can be bought for under $150 as well as a nice ceiling fan. Door handles are $20 or less depending on the style and faucets run from $35 to $150. For an entire house, you can replace the lights, door handles and faucets for about $1,200 installed.
How much are appliances?
Another way to make a house look great is by adding new appliances. We put stainless steel appliances in our houses; I can get a stove for $500 to $600, a dishwasher for $300 and microwave for $250. I usually do not buy a fridge for my flips and for my rentals I may buy used appliances off Craigslist. Appliances make a huge difference in the look of a kitchen even if the cabinets are dated.
How much are cosmetic repairs?
If you do all the work mentioned above and the rest of your home is in decent shape, it will make a huge difference in the look and feel. I almost always do all the repairs I discussed on every fix and flip. With my rentals, I usually do most of those repairs, but if a house is in decent condition I can get away with less. Here are the total costs for a cosmetic upgrade on a 1,500 square foot house:
New interior paint: $2,200
New floor coverings: $4,500
New fixtures: $1,200
New appliances: $1,300
Total cost: $9,200
When you fix up a home it almost always costs more than you think so be prepared to spend more than what you calculate. It is very rare that I ever spend less than $10,000 on any house that I fix up because there are usually many little things that need to be repaired as well. Drywall holes, outlet covers, landscaping, and many more things will increase the costs. It is also rare that I do not have more major repairs to complete.
How much are major repairs?
The repairs on my flips and rentals vary from basic cosmetics to a massive remodel. Here are other common repairs we make on houses and the cost.
- Kitchens: It is not as expensive as you might think to replace a kitchen. I can replace a basic kitchen including cabinets, countertops and sink for $2,500 in materials or less. After adding the labor you can replace a kitchen for well under $5,000.
- Baths: Baths can be gut jobs or a simple vanity replacement. For a full gut job, I can usually get the job done for less than $3,000. To replace a vanity, toilet and bath surround it can be done for less than $1,000.
- Roof: I have a great roofer who will replace the roof on a 1,500 square foot house for around $6,000.
- Electrical: Electric repairs can vary a great deal based on what needs to be done. Minor repairs can be a couple of hundred dollars or major rewiring jobs can be $5,000. It is important to get any electrical concerns checked out to see how serious they are.
- Plumbing: Plumbing is similar to electrical. A minor job can be very cheap, but to re-plumb, a house can cost $5,000 or more.
- Sewer: Sewer lines can be very expensive to replace. Luckily I have never had to replace one, but to replace a line can be $3,000 to $10,000.
- Foundation: Most foundation repairs are not fun to deal with. There are many issues from settling, water leakage, grading issues or structural problems. If you have water problems in the basement or crawl space it could be a major foundation issue that is $10,000 or more or a simple grading issue that some dirt work will fix.
- Windows: We end up replacing a lot of windows because we buy older houses all the time. For basic vinyl windows, I am usually charged about $300 a window by my contractors for material and install.
- Doors: We also replace a lot of interior doors. Six-panel white doors make a home look very nice. Doors are usually $100 to $150 per door installed.
- Stucco and siding: I rarely replace the siding on a home, but I have on occasion. I am putting brand new stucco on a fix and flip that is costing about $8,500 for a 1,250 square foot house. Replacing wood siding is cheaper, but you then have to paint the wood siding. You can still re-side and paint a house for less than stucco in most cases.
- Drywall/Sheetrock: With old houses, I see a lot of plaster and bad drywall. Brand new drywall makes an old house look so much better than uneven crumbling plaster. On a recent flip, a drywall specialist charged about $3,000 to do the walls and ceilings in three rooms that totaled about 500 square feet.
- Furnace/hot water heater: I had a brand new forced air furnace system installed for about $5,000 this year. To replace just the furnace is about $2,500 and a hot water heater about $800.
How much do I spend when I repair a house?
On my most recent fix and flip that is about to be put up for sale, I spent about $18,000 on the remodel. That included interior and exterior paint, new carpet, new doors, new trim, some electrical work, some new drywall, trash out, landscaping work and many little fixes. On a flip that is about to have the work started, I will spend over $50,000 on the repairs. That house needs new plumbing, new electric, new paint everywhere, siding work, new windows, new doors, new drywall, new baths, new kitchen, new floors, new fixtures, new trim and more.
Where do I buy materials to fix up my houses?
I shop at Home Depot for most materials including fixtures, doors, windows, door handles, kitchens, baths, and all the little stuff. I have a pro account with Home Depot, which gets me huge discounts on the materials we buy for flips and rentals.
Repairing a house does not cost $50,000 or $100,000 for basic cosmetic repairs. I see kitchen remodels on television that cost $50,000 and I can’t believe my eyes and ears! Even if you use high-end materials like granite counters and custom cabinets you should not spend $50,000 on a kitchen unless it is in a million-dollar home. Repairs can add up quickly on remodels and I always expect about $5,000 more in costs that I plan to spend due to unknowns. Find a great contractor, make sure that contractor does their work and shop around for the best prices to keep your costs down. Remember these costs are what I pay to fix up homes in my area. If you live in an expensive town, your costs may be significantly higher.
My book Fix and Flip Your Way to Financial Freedom, goes over exactly how I flip houses! It covers how to find deals, finance properties, what repairs to make, and how to market finished flips! It is available as a paperback and ebook on Amazon.
Will 3D House Printing Change the Way Houses are Built?
How Much Does It Cost to Remodel a Kitchen?
What Colors Should you Paint Your House Flips?
How Much Does it Cost to Remodel a Bathroom?
Should You Obtain Building Permits When Flipping Houses?
38 thoughts on “How Much Does it Cost to Fix Up and Repair a House?”
Good to know. I’ve always been warned not to go for a house that needs repairs because surely there must be more hidden defects than the owners list, especially if the price is considerably low. On the other hand I have heard of friends who got a house for a nice bargain because they were willing to put in the time and effort to renovate rather than move in or rent out immediately.
I would not rely on what the sellers says. I would always do your own inspections to see what needs done.
Really nice! Thanks for sharing!
Thank you Jesse!
Very good and lines up with my experience renovating properties. We will do major rehabs if the numbers work because we can and many will avoid them. Nothing is difficult with the right team.
Thank you Steve!
@Mark: You might want to consider looking into open box appliances from Best Buy. Depends on your nearby store inventory, u might score very good deals and u get 5% cash back if u have a BB credit card. One time i got a stainless steel electrical range for $400 in excellent condition.
Thanks Billy, right now time is my mot valuable asset. I do get open box items from my appliance store now, but it is rare. I can’t check the stores all the time to see what they have and I want my contractors working and not shopping around as well. Thank you for the suggestion. if I happen to be there I will see what they have.
Mark, as usual, thanks so much for generously sharing your knowledge! Another great post.
Thank you Robb!
I gain alot of information from your blogs .I take you as my model in real estate investment.Thanks for sharing
Thank you Alma!
Learn so much from you. Following your complete blue print guide is really great.
This article giving me good reminders for rehabing a property I currently have under contract.
Great to Hear!
Info very useful, Thanks Noticed typo – I think you meant “walls & ceilings” not “floors”.. “.drywall specialist charged about $3,000 to the floors and ceilings in three rooms”
Didn’t see AC on the list. For one of ours houses, the AC unit worked fine, but the Contractor recommended $1100 in duct work. When the past owners replaced the AC 7 years ago, they didn’t replace the duct work. The house was built in ’78
AC, that is one I left out. Why did he think the ducts needed redone? Is the house not cooling down?
A new AC is around $3,000 to $3,500 in my area for a 2,000 square foot house
The Ac guy said “for efficiency”. I got a second opinion. The new Ac guy recommended cleaning the ducts. $199. Saw no reason to replace them. I’m finding out that second opinions can be very worth while.
Nice work! I thought that sounded a bit excessive.
Last year me and my family rent a house. We have repaired kitchen and baths. We have change some of the plumbs. Everything cost us fifteen thousand. I am thinking that if we did electrical repairs it would cost us twenty thousand…..which is too much. Don’t forget when you start repairing sometimes you can not stop. Best regards!
Hi Bernice, it all depends on the house and if you use a contractor or not.
My house is low on on side and my floors need to be lifted up. Do you think it can be repaired.
It all depends on how bad it is and what is causing it. I would have a contractor look at it.
I recently had a contractor quote me $1300 to replace three sides of my window trim on one window, re-caulk seal (silicon) and paint match. They also want to silicon any gaps in the hardy siding below. Thing is the window is on the 3rd floor and not easily accessible. Am I being taken for a ride?
Hard to say without knowing the job and what labor is in your area. Best thing to do is get a second estimate.
This is the tips that will going to help many to repair their home. You mentioned all the details that can be helpful to decide the budget of the total renovation. Thanks for sharing.
i would like you writes something about how we can chose a fix and up house for to be a good deal and no waste our money. thank you
Have you seen this? https://investfourmore.com/2014/12/05/flipping-houses-ultimate-guide/
How much would it cost to take out everything inside a house, and just leave it blank like a warehouse? The house in question is 900 square feet.
It all depends on what is there now. It could be a couple thousand or ten thousand. The big questions would be beat, electric, and plumbing.
This was helpful. Thank you. I am looking to purchase a adobe style home in Santa Fe,NM and want to possibly renovate, restore and remodel this home. I’m just assuming it’s going to be close to 100K.
Where are you buying, which state?
I have House in the Curacao Dutch Caribbean Island . I’m looking for investor that can help me fix the house so we can put it on the Market for Rent of Sale !! We can make deal if you have the money !! I need respond ASAP !!
local investors are best for this situation
I read your article it’s fabulous. Some of my friends and relatives are really searching for this information. So I’m sharing these articles with them. So they too can get the benefit out of this. Thanks for sharing this article. Keep on sharing this kind of articles. Keep us more updated
Thanks for the information.