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What is a Gut Rehab & Should You Consider One?

You may discover a property in an excellent location, or that it's the size you always dreamed of. There's only one problem - everything else about the house needs to be changed. A gut rehab removes everything but the "bones" of the house. You end up with an empty canvas for your home, allowing you to modernize older buildings or fix widespread problems. This type of rehab can be worth it, but you have a few things to keep in mind. 

Look Beyond the Existing Layout

You have a lot of flexibility with what you can do to the interior of your fixer upper. Taking out a few walls can completely transform the floor plan and flow of your new home. When you're evaluating whether to take on a gut rehab, imagine how you can lay out the space that makes the best use of your available square footage, rather than focusing on what's currently there. 

Add Your Own Character

A gut rehab allows you to add your own personal touches to the house. For example, if you love to read, you can find a place for a reading nook that you wouldn't find in the older, standard Chicago home. Whether you like a modern industrial feel or a refined and classic interior, you get to control these elements. 

Consider Your Real Estate Market

Can you easily get a move-in ready home in your target Chicago neighborhoods, with all or most of your wish list items? You might want to consider that option if it's within your house buying budget. Sometimes you want to buy in an area where the style and home features don't come close to what you're looking for. In these situations, a gut rehab does make a lot of sense. 

Be Prepared for a Costly Endeavor

Renovations aren't cheap, and a gut rehab has you tackling the entire house. That's an endeavor that's not for the faint of heart. While the total price depends on the size of your property and the nature of the updates, you can expect to spend tens or hundreds of thousands in this process. The average cost for a multi-room renovation is approximately $38,000, but it's easy to creep up into the six figures range.  You also need a lot of time to invest in a gut rehab. If you're working on parts of the project on your own, your DIY efforts can become quite lengthy. Coordinating multiple parts of the renovations, dealing with adjusting materials cost, and working with a variety of contractors brings plenty of problems to the table as well. You also deal with the fact that it's easy to overshoot your budget with renovations, especially if you encounter problems along the way. 

The Challenges of Older Homes

Chicago is full of older homes that have plenty of character, but they're often full of the unknown. You don't know whether the last homeowner botched the electrical work or a leaking pipe has caused water damage and mold in the walls. You only discover these unwelcome surprises once you start into the gut rehab, and they take a big bite of your budget. In some cases, they can also put your health at risk. 
If this doesn't sound like an enticing prospect, consider an alternative to a gut rehab and build your own custom home. You'd be surprised how similar the costs will be and you get the peace of mind of a brand new, warranty backed home.
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