Fixer-uppers are a good way to save money on a home purchase and get the features you want in a property, and there are some red flags you should look out for while gutting the property.

Sadly, there are some issues that can't be detected until you open the walls. While setting your renovation budget, you should have a contingency that accounts for these unexpected setbacks and the steps to repair them. For certain red flags, you'll have to stop the project and call in a professional.

Here are some findings that mean you need to step away from your project:


When you gut a home, there may be patches of mold that developed over the years unbeknownst to the previous owners. A property inspection checks for signs of mold but doesn't open the walls, which means you may not know if there actually is mold until you get to work.

For small amounts, you can clean and remove mold yourself. However, larger cases will require a mold inspection to determine the extent of the issue, including how much mold is present on the exposed surface and the concentration of spores in the air.

If the inspector determines the mold has extensively spread, you'll have to call in professionals for the removal. Depending on your indoor air quality, you may be ordered to leave the property until the cleanup job is finished.

Afterward, there will be another inspection to ensure the removal was successful and the concentration of mold spores in the air is not hazardous.


In many older properties, including homes and commercial buildings, builders used asbestos to insulate pipes. This is a fire-resistant mineral fiber that can be woven into fabrics.

Asbestos has been linked to lung cancer and mesothelioma. If you breathe in the particles, they can become lodged in the tissues inside your lungs and remain there for years.

One positive about asbestos is it doesn't present much of an issue if it isn't disturbed. Considering you'll be tearing down walls with sledgehammers, however, there's a good chance you'll accidentally release some fibers into the air.

If you think you've found asbestos in your home while completing the demo work, stop working immediately and exit the property. You'll need to call a professional to identify the material, as a special microscope is required. Afterward, a cleanup crew will need to remove all the asbestos.