I bought a house from guys who’d watched too many episodes of Fixer Upper and thought they would renovate and flip houses as an investment. Instead of doing a great job—like Chip and Joanna Gaines—they took cheap shortcuts and did a crappy, shameful job. Even so, I put an offer down on the house and then hired an inspector to tell me the problems I was facing.
After 10 minutes, the inspector was so ticked off by the abominable renovation, he spent the next five and a half hours checking everything in the house.
The sellers were adamant my realtor not send them a copy of the inspection or even tell them any of the items on the list. They were the “Hear No Evil. See No Evil. Speak No Evil” monkeys. In case I wasn’t the buyer, by not knowing anything on the inspector’s list, the sellers could say to the next potential buyer—like they said to me—“we have no knowledge of any problems with the house.”
If you’re going to flip houses, it’s in your best interest to do a good job. If you don’t, the realtors in your area may steer their clients away from any future houses you flip.
- DO A QUALITY JOB. If you’re limited on what you can spend, don’t do too many things and windup doing a shoddy job on everything. Start with the most important items like making sure the roof or the heat and air conditioning is in good condition. The rest is cosmetic, plus many buyers would rather choose their own tile and paint colors rather than redo what you think is nice.
- HIRE AN EXPERIENCED, CONSCIENTIOUS CREW. Don’t use inexperienced people or pickup “day laborers” who don’t speak or read English or Spanish.
- INSTALL QUALITY APPLIANCES. The appliances in the house I bought were missing numerous key parts. It wasn’t that they were there but hadn’t been installed. They were nowhere to be found. Don’t save money by buying cheap, off brands on the internet. When it comes time to repair them, parts may be unavailable.
- CLEAN UP BEFORE YOU PUT THE HOUSE UP FOR SALE. The guys who flipped my house left the old appliances; three huge trash cans with old baseboards and nails; broken mirror shards; a gallon of paint thinner without the cap; used work gloves and old door knobs in the bushes and takeout food containers, giant buckets of stucco and paint rollers in the backyard and the closets.
- INSPECT EVERYTHING. Inspect the work, daily, and before you sign off on the job. Ask yourself, “Is this a house I’d want my mother to live in? Will I be leaving her with lots of problems to deal with?”
If you do a bad job, I promise your reputation will follow you and bite you in the butt.