Thinking of buying your first investment property? Read what it is REALLY like in this all-encompassing guide to house flipping for beginners TL;DR – HGTV is a big old liar
Everything We Learned About Flipping A House (The Hard Way)
Flip a house, they said. It’ll be fun, they said.
Will it though?
Don’t get me wrong. Beverly is beautiful. We worked hard on her. We cut NO corners and truly spared no expense.
But we had a lot of hard lessons along the way.
Hard lessons that cost us a lot of money.
But hopefully what we learned will be something that can help you if you’re looking to flip a house for the first time and you want to be a few steps ahead of us by learning from our mistakes!
- What We Learned
- Always crawl the crawl space
- Timeline is very important
- Location is everything
- Always factor in a contingency
- Get used to making quick decisions
- Shop wholesale suppliers
- What We Would Do Again
- Vinyl siding
- LVP flooring
- Shop wholesale suppliers
- Spend money in the kitchen
- Floating shelves in the laundry room
- Unique lighting
- Pot filler and range hood
- What We Would Have Done Differently
- What We Won't Do Again
- Flip a 2 bedroom house
- Work with family
- Start on the inside first
- Paid subs by the hour
- Use eggshell paint again
- The Number ONE Question We Get Asked
What We Learned
Always crawl the crawl space
What you can’t see will always get you. When we first saw Beverly, although she was to’ up from the flo’ up (literally), she did actually have floors (for the most part).
Which means we couldn’t see beneath. But “it’ll be fine!”
Spoiler alert: It wasn’t fine.
90% of the floor joists and 75% of the band sill had been eaten up with termites which meant all of that had to be replaced.
Why is that important?
Because our $7000 framing budget then turned into $24,000. Just like that.
Timeline is very important
People will tell you that time is money, but when. it comes to flipping a house, it’s especially true.
For one reason, it costs money to hold a house. Depending on the type of lending you’re using, every day adds interest.
Another reason people don’t think about is cost of materials.
When we created our flip house design plans and looked at our materials, it was November of 2020.
We were under contract for 60 days, didn’t start for another month after that because of shopping our funding options, and then finally swung a first hammer in February.
In that short time, materials went up.
For example, our electric cost went up 250%.
TWO. HUNDRED. AND. FIFTY. PERCENT.
Location is everything
We said no to a lot of houses before we finally took the plunge on this one.
The reason this was such an easy yes was because of location. It’s very close to our quaint little downtown, in one of the most established neighborhoods and also very close to Winthrop University.
It was perfect which meant we knew there was a huge desire for people to want to be here which helped us feel confident it would sell to the right buyers.
Always factor in a contingency
This is also known as your “oh sh!t” budget.
So that way if your framing budget that was supposed to be $7000 turns into $24,000, you’re prepared.
I’m not saying it won’t hurt (because BOY, DOES IT HURT) but you’re prepared.
Get used to making quick decisions
Depending on what kind of decision maker you are, this will be the easiest or hardest part for you.
Jordan is a decision agonizer and draws out and overthinks everything. I’m a researcher, but when I’ve made a decision, I’m confident and ready to rock and roll.
For example, there was an opportunity for us to procure some awesome LVP flooring, but because we (*ahem* Jordan) didn’t move fast enough, we lost it and and had to pivot.
I love the floors that we actually chose, but still.
Shop wholesale suppliers
We are lucky enough to have a large number of wholesale suppliers who sell things at a deep discounted rate which saved us THOUSANDS.
We were able to get doors for both the front and the side door that retail right now at Home Depot for $700 plus.
We paid $175 a piece! That’s a huge savings.
Can’t make up all the missed money, but it sure can help!
We were going to tear down this shed, but instead painted it and put nice handles on it and it looks like an entirely new shed!
We were going to tear down this fireplace. It was awkward, felt like it broke up the space in a weird way and we couldn’t figure out how to configure the kitchen.
Instead we kept it and then wrapped it in shiplap which I LOVE!
When it comes to projects, just keep an open mind!
What We Would Do Again
At first we were super opposed to vinyl and wanted hardiplank.
However, we needed vinyl because we were encapsulating asbestos siding and vinyl was recommended because nails would hold better.
So we did what the experts told us to do and are so pleased with it.
Super happy with install. Super happy with the look. Super happy with all of its incredible qualities.
We would absolutely put LVP floors in our own house if we didn’t already have white oak hardwood floors in our own home.
Shop wholesale suppliers
We saved so much money doing this and we also were able to support local shops around here which we loved.
Spend money in the kitchen
We spent a lot of money in the kitchen.
A huge portion of our budget.
But the layout of a kitchen and its size are super important to the resale of a home and so we wanted to make sure that the future owners had a space that was functional and also had decent storage even though the house was on the smaller side.
Floating shelves in the laundry room
This was way better than the gross wire shelves that most people remove anyway and it was a super budget friendly DIY project! We got lots of compliments on these as well!
Choosing sconces in a bathroom instead of a vanity light was something that we thought a buyer would love or hate.
But we loved it.
We also chose to add a chandelier over the vanity as opposed to a vanity light in the guest bathroom and would for sure do that again!
Pot filler and range hood
Always. Absolutely always
10/10. 5 stars. Would recommend.
What We Would Have Done Differently
The original house had crown molding on the outside that was then boxed with aluminum soffit. The soffit was at an angle.
We would have added gutters, but when the soffit was added, it was boxed in and would have had to rip it all off which would have cost thousands of dollars.
After the framing budget that was blown out of the water, we just didn’t have it unfortunately.
Landscaping way earlier
In our defense, we really couldn’t have done it earlier in this case. We had to replace the water main and wouldn’t have known that until water was turned on.
However we couldn’t turn the water on until the plumbing was done. Which meant a lot of things had to happen first.
We spent months doing work on the inside of the house, but not a single thing was done on the outside.
However, once we finally were able to start working on the outside, that’s when a huge buzz began around the house.
People would stop by and ask neighbors, people were calling and leaving notes to let them know when we were done or to ask about price.
We could have drummed up a lot more of that buzz around the house had we done more things on the exterior as a flag to say, “HEY! We’re doin’ stuff in here!”
Built-in laundry room
This wasn’t in the original house or even something we planned to do, but we are so glad we did it.
The location is right off the side of the kitchen and you can close it off with a sliding barn door.
That added value to the home, and also will make the life of the future homeowners easier as well.
What We Won’t Do Again
Flip a 2 bedroom house
Even young couples with no kids need 3 bedrooms. We love the idea of a 2 bedroom, but for flipping and resale value, I think Beverly was our first and last 2 bedroom.
Work with family
I think this is pretty self explanatory but if you’ve ever heard don’t mix business and family, DO NOT.
It’s not even that it was miserable, but sometimes just having to tow the line of “I have to see this person a lot at Christmas” with things like money, work ethic, reliability, etc. is just very, very hard.
Start on the inside first
Like I said earlier, doing the outside first creates more interest, buzz, and more potential buyers.
Paid subs by the hour
This is HUGE.
This is not something we really knew before but we got raked over the coals by letting some subs charge by the hour versus the project.
When subs charge by the hour, often times they grossly underestimate how long things would take.
Granted, it was very cost effective in some ways, but in other ways not at all.
One of my favorite things about Beverly is her trim work. We chose to do different trim than the craftsman style trim we have in our own home.
However, because the guys kept messing it up and redoing it, this trim cost us SIX THOUSAND DOLLARS. (Don’t get me started on how I do not think we should have been charged for their mess ups but….)
Just in labor.
The materials weren’t even $1000 for the entire house.
That was probably the most angry I was at the entire project.
Use eggshell paint again
We would use flat instead because it’s so much easier to touch up.
We almost had to repaint the entire house because once it was painted, there was still so much work to be done and it got so scuffed up.
But touching up eggshell is almost impossible.
Flat paint is much easier to touch up.
We learned a lot.
But I know that you are here because you may want to learn a lot for yourself!
I did a recent poll on Instagram to find out what you guys want to know and a LOT of you replied! So I’ve compiled the most asked questions to hopefully help you when you are about to flip a house for the first time!
The Number ONE Question We Get Asked
Would we do it again?
Well you guys…..yes. Yes we would.
We may have already purchased our next one. Stay tuned!