Blog Stories Intensity of Remodeling

Intensity of Remodeling

By Dill Ward, May 31, 2021

When touring homes on the market or preparing homes for selling, we gauge how intense the remodeling effort might be. If necessary remodel characteristics are too intense for a buyer to take on then the number of interested parties doesn’t reflect the number of people who will write an offer, sometimes this works out well for a buyer who is willing to take on more intense projects.

How intense of a fixer are you comfortable with?

0: Move-In Ready

You don’t want to break a single bead of sweat after getting keys. These floors are good, these walls are painted in an inoffensive way, the exterior is ok, the grass is green enough, etc. You may not want to do any remodeling, and such houses do exist, but you can expect to find many buyers falling into this bracket and the competitive market value of these homes will lean above average. In this scenario, I’d also suggest looking at homes that feature new mechanical elements and highly durable materials.

1: Light Cosmetic

Painting rooms, some landscaping, power-spraying surfaces, or any action that doesn’t require more than two trips to a hardware store. Perhaps you found a neat peel and stick window treatment, or you want to put up curtains. Any single project that might need three or more trips to the hardware store can intimidate you. If you find yourself in this group, remember to measure all dimensions twice before cutting.

2: Moderate Cosmetic

Are you comfortable with pulling up carpet and refinishing floors? Removing wallpaper or popcorn ceilings? This territory treads a fine line along the question of “should I hire someone?” Some aspects may seem like quick projects and totally doable if some-diy-video is exactly the project you’re taking on. The line is contrasted at a different point for everyone, but if you’ve never swapped a light fixture before and don’t feel comfortable around screwdrivers, you’re better off having a trades-person come tackle the nitty-gritty work.

3: Small Repairs

Drywall repair, sewer pipe repair, electrical outlet replacement, tightening/replacing some failing deck-boards… this work isn’t quite cosmetic, so you won’t get the same appeal of showing off to your friends and family how creative you are, this is most often deferred maintenance or light safety concerns that bring you peace of mind. Small repairs pop up in every age of construction as homes are built or remodeled with materials that have a percentage of failure.

4: Moderate Repairs

Replacing gutters, repairing sewer lines, reworking water run-off, patching brick walls, replacing electrical panels, or work requires specialized skill, knowledge, tools, or a small team. You might need a permit for some of these repairs, if so, do not forget to finalize permits before going to market. This work is also not considered easily shown off, but brings generous comfort in knowing that your home is well maintained. Monetarily, this bracket of repairs is under $20k.

5: Major Cosmetic

“Can we take this wall down?” Once you open a wall you cross multiple specialties including (but not limited to) structural engineering, plumbing, electrical, flooring, general carpentry and so on. Replacing flooring or kitchens also tends to go beyond a project that you can self-teach. Major Cosmetic projects are usually something worth consulting a designer, an architect, and double checking potential conflicts warrantied work (roof warranties, material warranties, window warranties…). Be sure to research what permits are needed to stay in compliance with the city. This work has the potential to bring market value up if your improvements track well with current design trends.

6: Cosmetic Repairs

Slightly different than a repair or a cosmetic upgrade, if you’re in this camp, you may be looking at homes that need cosmetic repairs that tread into the realm of safety. Some examples include drywall replacement, floor repair, kitchen remodels, network repairs, cracked windows to replace with new windows, and more. Almost any home will be viable for your aspirations, so long as the structure works well for your goal.

7: Major Repairs

Any work that repairs the structure or re-engineering walls, ceilings, floors, or foundation, and likely requires permits. You might look for poorly maintained homes, mostly you’ll be looking for homes that are so beyond the average home-buyer’s comfort level of repair that you feel like you’re bringing the home up from gross neglect, and revitalizing or reinterpreting a piece of history.

8: Scrape and Rebuild

You have a dream. You know what rooms you want. You know what kitchen you want. You know where the house must be. You know that you’ll find an architect, designer, builder, and engineer who available to help you. You have cash or a line of credit sufficient to pay all of these people. You have enough cash to hold the property until your home is complete. If these all sound like you, then perhaps you are ready for buying a lot that has a house on it, purely for the purpose of scraping the land of all or many improvements and starting over. You may still benefit from searching for homes in significant disrepair, because the more habitable the home is, the more competition you’ll face while presenting your offer.

9: Small Lot to Subdivide

In densely populated cities, like ours, you may find the opportunity to buy land that could host ten homes. Depending on your comfort with city planning, infrastructural planning, and building code, you could be looking for properties that provide proper space for access easements, water provision, sewer lines, electrical infrastructure, gas piping, and appealing surroundings. We’ve seen homes with land purchased and subdivided, the owners would live in one lot while their dream home was being built on the divided lot, then they sold/rented the older home. Remember that not all sellers are excited to sell if they know the property will be subdivided or demolished.

10: Co-Ops, Condos, Neighborhoods and Beyond

If none of the above seems like a daunting project, perhaps you could handle something large enough in scale to create your own community experience. Building beyond small development tracts brings new considerations, and requires longer timelines. Looking for numerous homes to redevelop for a larger condo in a trendy business district might be appealing and may require reaching out to individual homeowners to determine their motivations toward selling. Perhaps buying a property that is in a properly zoned area can be the catalyst to securing your larger lot.

Sometimes you’ll find perfectly livable homes that have a layout or location that you’re intrigued by, or comfortable with, and, as always, embracing the opportunity to modernize property can be a thrilling gamble. Wondering how to get your home ready to go to market? We’re always happy to help!

Dill Ward

Principal Broker | OR


I'm a strategist at heart. Once we've got a clear vision on your goals I love drawing the road map how to get there. I'm a natural problem solver and resiliency is my superpower. I get excited by nudging you to see the bigger picture of your goals when the process can drag you down into the moment. I've been called by my clients as, "contagiously enthusiastic". Selling a home or taking the leap to buy is an exciting transition which can create other shifts and opportunities for you to take control of the direction of your life and discover the next version of yourself.


Negotiating was a skill I honed early in life, whether it was persuading for a later bedtime, or heading down to South Florida flea markets where my parents would encourage me to, "work a deal" on a comic book or a kitchen gadget. Even back then, I loved the thrill of asking for what I want.


For those of you who geek out about self development and personality tests, my "Strengths Finder" results are: Positivity, Strategic, Activator, Learner, and Ideation.

I LOVE PORTLAND! (and welcoming new people)

I relocated to Portland from Florida in 2010, and am grateful to have built an incredible life here in this weird city. It's always an honor to be a welcoming face and a warm smile to others arriving and looking for home.


Wait, is that a thing? I'm always thinking about real estate. I love wheeling and dealing! Before I was a REALTOR®, I started the journey as an investor. Fun fact: I helped an investment group flip over 100 properties my first 2 years in industry! I've had a rental portfolio for over 10 years and dabble in all areas of the industry. My speciality is the concierge level service we can deliver when someone wants to sell and let us take the wheel. My team and I love to work as project managers and orchestrate the 50 different vendors & contractors to make miracles happen in short amounts of time.


• My husband & biz-partner Nicholas. (He's a High Performance Coach & REALTOR® -- dreamy combo!), and our young daughter Nori. • Building Community! Check out Women who Own it, a monthly meetup community for women homeowners. • Offering networking opportunities, encouragement, and business coaching for women in business at Women with Moxie. • Spreading motivation and inspiration in the world through public speaking and event emceeing. • Finding ways to make people smile. Enough about me -- if you are still reading this far, i'm dying to know about you! Use my easy online scheduler and let's book a meeting! Buy, sell, just a get-to-know each other to possibly collaborate on some amazing project? Easy breezy!


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