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But after visiting more than 30 properties, the couple reconsidered the four-bedroom, three-story house.

“It had the bones we were looking for,” Zola said. “And it had character; it was just hidden.”

They closed on the house in May and, after spending about $45,000 to renovate, moved in July, he said.

They converted the third floor into a master suite, replaced drop ceilings, removed wallpaper, installed hardwood floors, and opened up the first floor by knocking down a few walls, Zola said.

Since Starr and Boerckel moved into their new house in August, they have torn down walls to expose the brick, ripped up rugs to expose the hardwood floors, and begun turning the middle of the three bedrooms into a walk-in closet.

They expect to spend about $15,000 on renovations by doing the work themselves, which presents other challenges.

“We are living in a construction zone,” Starr said.

Lauren Acker Kratz, an associate agent in Philadelphia, warns interested buyers to consider the timing of the remodeling before taking on fixer-uppers.

Are you going to be able to live through rehabs?” she asked. “How much time can you allow?”

Acker Kratz also urges buyers to get estimates on desired upgrades, so the renovations don’t push typically cheaper fixer-upper homes beyond their budget constraints.

©2013 The Philadelphia Inquirer
Distributed by MCT Information Services

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