Fixing up an old house with a low income/budget: How?

Fixer-upper homes can be a great investment opportunity for anyone looking to buy a home on a budget. However, fixing up a home can also be expensive, and it’s important to plan your budget carefully to ensure that you get the most bang for your buck. In this article, we’ll provide some tips and tricks for fixing up a fixer-upper/old house on a budget, as well as some resources available in Canada to help you with your project.

Fixing up an old house with a low income

As the stock market is going down these days, most of the home owners are willing to let go their homes for low prices. Being a smart buyer, you can find good opportunities with such buyers. You might be able to grab a home which is new built but most likely you will end up with a fixer-upper home. Don’t get overwhelmed by the home conditions, perform a good inspection of the home before you buy it. In the best case, hire an affordable agent who can help you with home inspection for cheap.

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If everything works out well, get ready to spend a little on the old house and make a good returns. You don’t have to spend a lot to get your fixer-upper ready for selling, you can fix up an old house with a low budget. I have curated a good list of ideas you need to stay focused on while working on your fixer-upper with a low income.

Best strategies to fix up an old home with a low income/ low budget

Prioritize repairs and renovations

Before you start fixing up your old house, make a list of all the repairs and renovations that need to be done. Then prioritize them based on safety, structural issues, and any other urgent repairs. This will help you focus on the most important repairs first, and avoid spending money on unnecessary upgrades.

We suggest making a priority list based on critical score of the task. You can use criteria like structural safety, health safety, damage propagation, cost etc.

TaskStructural safetyHealth safetyDamage propagationCost
Water damaged beam – fungi101010medium
Stained sink020low
Table 1: Priority list table based on various criteria while fixing an old home.

You can make a table similar to the one showed above. This will help you keep track of all the items that need attention and according to the budget, you can prioritize the most critical tasks first.

Create a budget while considering your income

Creating a budget is essential when fixing up an old house on a low income. Start by estimating the costs of materials and labor for each repair or renovation, and add them up to create a total budget. Then add a contingency fund of at least 10% to cover any unexpected expenses, this will help you with any unnoticed repairs or any damages while repairing. Stick to your budget as closely as possible, and avoid unnecessary expenses.

If the budget needed to fix up your old house is getting out of your monthly allowance. You have two options:

  1. Take a bank loan to fund your repairs.
  2. Repair with monthly or bi-weekly EMI. This will help you better optimize your income.

Keep track of the priority list created in the first step and make a monthly plan on repairs and tasks to perform while staying in your budget. Don’t try to use your credit cards to fund your repairs if you are unsure about paying the debt off before your cycle end.

Once you have your budget plan ready, go over it with your partner or family/friend to understand if you are missing out anything. This will help you get a clear picture of the plan and will solidify your execution plan.

Shop Around for Materials

One of the biggest expenses when fixing up a home is materials. However, there are ways to save money on materials. For example, you can shop around for the best deals on materials, look for sales or discounts, and buy materials in bulk. You can also consider using recycled or salvaged materials, which can be a great way to save money and give your home a unique look.

Many a times, you can find discontinued materials for cheap. You need to enquire with your local shops for any such stocks. I don’t mean expired or ruined materials, I mean the once company has come up with a new version. Example: You don’t need a modern design faucet, you can easily opt for a discontinued design which will serve the purpose.

DIY as Much as Possible

Another way to save money when fixing up a fixer-upper home on a low income is to do as much of the work as possible yourself. While there are some tasks that require a professional, such as electrical or plumbing work, there are many tasks that you can do yourself with a little bit of know-how. For example, painting, landscaping, and installing fixtures are all tasks that you can do yourself with the right tools and knowledge.

fixing up a fixer-upper/old house on a budget

If you have friends or family members who are handy or have experience with home repairs, ask them for help. You may be able to save money on labor costs by doing repairs together or by having them help you with more complicated repairs. Make sure to treat them with some good homemade food 😜.

Find Affordable Professionals

If you do need to hire a professional for some of the work, it’s important to find an affordable professional. Shop around and get quotes from multiple professionals before making a decision. Look for professionals who specialize in the type of work that you need done, and ask for references and examples of their work.

You can find new handymen from Facebook marketplace, Facebook groups or Kijiji. Make sure you ask for some examples of their work before you trust them with your repairs.

Here is an example message/email to send to a contractor to get a quote for your plan on fixing up an old house with a low income:

Hello [Contractor Name],

I hope this message finds you well. I am reaching out because I am interested in fixing up my old house on a tight budget. I understand that this may be a challenging project, but I am hopeful that we can work together to find affordable solutions.

I am specifically looking for a contractor who has experience with renovating old houses and can work within my budget constraints. I am open to discussing options for using salvaged or recycled materials and creative approaches to make the most of my limited budget.

Some of the areas I am interested in fixing up include the roof, foundation, plumbing, electrical, and any cosmetic improvements that can be done within my budget.

I would appreciate the opportunity to discuss this project further with you, including your experience with similar projects, your availability, and your estimated timeline and cost for completing the work.

Thank you for your time and consideration. I look forward to hearing back from you soon.

Best regards,

[Your Name]

Use Resources Available in Canada for fixing your fixer-upper home on budget

There are many resources available in Canada to help you fix up a fixer-upper home on a budget. For example, Habitat for Humanity ReStores are retail locations that sell donated new and used building materials and home furnishings at a fraction of the retail price. Another resource is the Canadian Home Builders’ Association, which can provide you with information on reputable contractors in your area.

Other resources available in Canada include home improvement stores like Home Depot and Lowe’s, which offer workshops and classes on DIY projects. Online marketplaces like Kijiji and Craigslist are also great resources for finding used materials and tools.

Take advantage of government programs and grants

There are many government programs and grants available in Canada to help low-income homeowners with home repairs and renovations. Government programs and grants are very helpful in fixing up an old house with a low income or low budget.

For example, the Canada Mortgage and Housing Corporation (CMHC) offers the Home Adaptations for Seniors’ Independence (HASI) program, which provides financial assistance to help seniors make modifications to their homes to make them more accessible. The CMHC also offers the Residential Rehabilitation Assistance Program (RRAP), which provides financial assistance to homeowners for home repairs.


Fixing up a fixer-upper home on a budget requires planning, research, and hard work. However, with the right tools and resources, it’s possible to turn a run-down home into a beautiful and functional living space. By creating a plan and setting a budget, shopping around for materials, DIYing as much as possible, finding affordable professionals, and using resources available in Canada, you can fix up a fixer-upper home without breaking the bank.

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