Finding fixer-upper homes for sale that you can renovate on a budget is a challenge, but one you can meet with a little guidance. Major problems like foundation, electrical, or plumbing issues can drastically reduce the purchase price, but they are likely to leave you with larger-than-expected bills before you can move in.

Be sure to get a full inspection before purchase to rule out those costly problems if you want to save money in the long run. Choosing a house with cosmetic rather than structural issues ensures that you won’t go way over budget on a renovation. Here are some details to keep in mind.

Kitchen and Bathroom

Cosmetic issues, especially in the kitchen and bathroom, may detract buyers as much as costly internal problems, but they can be far simpler and easier to remedy.

According to the National Association of Realtors, kitchens and bathrooms are the most important rooms to prospective buyers, which means you may be able to get a good deal on homes for sale that needs work in those areas.


If kitchen cabinets are outdated, in disrepair, or just plain ugly, there are simple and cost-effective ways to turn them into something you’ll love for as long as you live in your home. Wood cabinets can be sanded and refinished with stain, and even laminate cabinets can be coated with a special primer and painted to look brand new again.

Another budget-friendly alternative is to reface cabinets by changing out the doors and leaving the existing cupboard boxes in place. Purchase unfinished doors and paint them to match existing cabinetry.

Medicine cabinets and vanities can also be refinished for an updated look in the bathroom. Many big box stores carry premade and finished vanities for only a few hundred dollars, so even complete replacement can be a cost-effective solution.


Don’t let yourself be deterred from buying a property because of lime green linoleum in the kitchen or bath. Ceramic tile can be purchased for as little as a few dollars per square foot, making it very budget-friendly in small spaces.

Splurging on a pricier tile in the bathroom or a backsplash in the kitchen is an excellent way to add interest to your tile work without paying for a lot of square footage. Many home improvement and flooring stores offer installation courses for homeowners so you can save on labor and do the work yourself.


If you were out viewing homes for sale and found yourself surrounded by 1970s wood paneling, don’t cross that house off your list just yet. A simple coat of paint can change the look completely, and it imparts more character than textured drywall.

Whitewashing can also update wood panels. This process leaves the wood grain visible but lightens it to a weathered look that can brighten up space and make it truly unique.

To spruce up dull or drab walls, try adding a decorative molding around the top, or wainscoting around the bottom. These additions are easy to find in any home improvement store and can be installed quickly and easily for a small investment.