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Is It Worth Buying a House to Renovate in Nigeria?

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Have you been considering purchasing a fixer-upper property with the goal of renovating it? Renovating a house can seem like an attractive option since fixer-uppers are often more affordable than move-in ready homes. 

However, renovating also comes with significant costs, risks, and time commitments that you need to carefully consider before deciding if it’s the right choice. 

Here are some factors to weigh when deciding if buying a house to renovate is worth it in Nigeria:

Assess the Property’s Structure and Foundation

One of the most important things to evaluate is the property’s structural integrity and foundation. Major issues like cracks in the foundation, water damage, or termite infestation could end up being extremely costly to repair. 

Get an experienced building inspector to thoroughly inspect the property before purchasing. Their expert opinion will help you understand what renovations will be required and estimate repair costs. Surprises during renovations can easily blow your budget.

Consider Renovation and Repair Costs 

Don’t underestimate how much renovations will cost. Getting quotes from contractors is essential for budgeting purposes. Common renovation items like upgrading electrical wiring, plumbing systems, roof repairs and painting can add up fast. 

Factor in costs of replacing windows, floors, kitchen appliances or bathrooms as well. Be sure to budget a reasonable amount for unexpected repairs too. Over Improving the property also won’t increase its resale value.

Check for Planning Permission Requirements

In Nigeria, renovating a property may require various planning permissions and approvals from your local planning authority depending on the scope of work. 

This can cause delays if not sorted out in advance. Make enquiries about permission needs for things like expanding the property size or changing the building structure. Getting the paperwork in order upfront helps avoid costly penalties or work stoppages later.

Consider Your Time Commitment

Renovations often take much longer than anticipated and may interfere with your daily schedule. Are you prepared to live with the disruptions of construction work? If using contractors, ensure they can complete within committed timelines to avoid cost overruns. 

Overseeing renovation work also requires dedicating significant time for decision making, sourcing materials and providing access for site visits. Do you have the bandwidth?

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Resale Value is Not Guaranteed

While renovations can potentially increase a property’s value, there is no assurance that you will recoup 100% of costs at resale. Renovations like kitchen and bathroom upgrades usually provide good returns. However, highly customized or unusual renovations may appeal to fewer buyers. 

Consider doing updates that appeal to future buyers’ tastes as well. Location and property size are usually better indicators of future value over the long run.

Weigh Your Financing Options Carefully

Have financing arranged before making an offer. Cash purchases provide flexibility but loans may be necessary. Compare interest rates and terms from mortgage lenders, microfinance banks and builders’ credit societies. 

Renovation loans sometimes offer better rates than personal loans. But do factor in loan processing and other ancillary costs too. With property prices and inflation rising in Nigeria, interest costs can eat into profits if you take too long to complete and resell.

Tips for Finding the Right Property to Renovate

  • Look for properties in established neighborhoods with amenities nearby like schools, parks, and markets. This boosts resale appeal
  • Consider the property’s size – is it too big or small for your needs long term? Right-sizing reduces holding costs
  • Inspect structural elements closely for issues like termite damage, cracks, or water leaks that can escalate repair costs
  • Check if electrical, plumbing and roof are in working condition or due for upgrades. This affects renovation scope and budget
  • Evaluate the property’s layout and natural light. Renovations are expensive and major layout changes may not add much value
  • Consider ease of access for deliveries, construction vehicles and waste removal during the renovation period.

Creating a Budget and Sticking to It

  • Get quotes from 3 contractors to compare rates and avoid lowball estimates
  • Add 15-20% as contingency to the total project cost estimate for unexpected repairs or scope changes
  • Avoid cutting corners on materials, fixtures or labor to save costs in the short term. This may compromise quality
  • Break the budget into phases like electrical, plumbing etc and release payments only on completion of milestones
  • Track expenses, flag overruns early and be flexible to scale back non-essential items if needed.

Working With Contractors

  • Ask friends for referrals or check online reviews portals for feedback on past projects
  • Get 3 detailed quotes and verify licenses, permits and insurances are valid before hiring
  • Clearly define the scope of work and get it in a signed contract along with payment terms and schedule
  • Oversee the work progress, address issues promptly and release payments only against milestones
  • Get a minimum 1 year defects liability period clause to address post-construction issues.

Selling a Renovated Property

  • Research recent sold prices in the neighborhood to price your property competitively
  • Staging the home to highlight upgrades and appeal to target buyers is important
  • Document renovation receipts, permits and before/after photos for buyers’ due diligence
  • List the property online on real estate portals and engage a realtor for local market insights
  • Consider an open house event and social media promotions to generate interest.

Common Renovation Mistakes to Avoid

Renovating a home can be an exciting and rewarding experience, but it’s important to approach it with careful planning and attention to detail. Here are some common renovation mistakes to avoid:

Not Getting Proper Approvals

Failing to obtain necessary planning permissions and building permits can result in penalties, rejection of work done or even demolition orders. It’s crucial to get approvals in place before starting work.

Poor Project Management

Lacking a detailed plan with timelines, budgets, contractor responsibilities clearly defined often leads to delay and disputes. Proper documentation and oversight is key. 

Unrealistic Time Estimates

Contractors may lowball timelines to win work. Allow ample time buffers for unforeseen issues. Fast-tracking quality work is difficult and risks cost overruns.

Underspecified Scope

Vague expectations on finishes, materials or standards cause scope creep. Define specifications clearly upfront to avoid disputes over what’s included. 

Using Inexperienced Labour

Using inexperienced or unreliable contractors is a recipe for poor quality workmanship. Untrained workers lacking necessary skills can compromise quality. Check licenses, portfolio and take referrals before hiring to avoid shoddy workmanship.

Lack of Research

Not understanding local bylaws, soil conditions or site challenges before starting can result in costly design changes. Thorough due diligence is important.

Skipping Inspections

Missing mandatory inspection checkpoints by authorities means work will need redoing if not up to code. Factor this time and ensure sign-offs. 

Frequent Changes of Mind

Incessant tweaks to materials, designs or specifications delay work and increase costs substantially. Freeze changes after design freeze date.  

Poor Material Selection

Using substandard, damaged or incompatible items may look good temporarily but lead to early failure and need replacement. Invest in quality.

No Contingency Planning

Every renovation encounters unforeseen issues. Not keeping aside a buffer for surprises leads to cost cutting compromising quality or even project abandonment. 

Proper planning, approvals, specifications, inspections and change management are crucial to avoid renovation nightmares and budget busting. Due diligence upfront saves much hassle later.


Renovating a property requires careful planning, strong budgets, contractor management skills and patience. 

Consider your time commitment, financing options, and the property’s resale potential based on location and size. An inspection will help set realistic expectations of repairs needed. 

If done right, renovating a property can be financially rewarding. But it’s not for everyone given the risks involved. Weigh the pros and cons based on your individual circumstances.

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