This article is part of Bob Vila’s Guide to House Flipping in 2022, a month-long series dedicated to showing you the best places to flip a home, the crucial steps in selecting a property, must-have upgrades and repairs, and surprising ways to cut your costs to get the most out of your sales. house flipping. Every week, we’ll bring you new ideas mixed with Bob’s tried-and-tested tips, our vetted buying guides, and the inside track to the right pros to take your flip to the finish line.
Unlike a renovation for a personal residence, a house flip requires a certain approach. Having a home that appeals to the greatest number of buyers for the least possible expense is an art. This involves not only knowing what finishes and fixtures to use, but how much to buy them, when to repair instead of replacing, and why doing some DIY work to save money isn’t always the best policy.
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1. Buy in bulk or discontinued items for a discount.
Home swimmers who renovate multiple homes simultaneously often use the same finishes on all of their projects and attend warehouse sales to buy in bulk for less. Negotiating cheaper rates for items left behind at supply stores is also a way to save money. However, this process also comes with risks, as design styles change, and if you buy too much of an item, you might end up stuck with it.
2. Consider doing some projects yourself.
If you’re only flipping one house at a time, you might want to consider taking on a few projects yourself. Painting, landscaping, and staining are jobs that most novices can do. However, if you are flipping multiple homes, the best use of your time is to research the next deal rather than focusing on saving money on just one.
3. Buy top-of-the-range appliances that are little used.
A home with high-end industrial appliances such as Viking, Thermador, and Miele always adds high voltage glamor to a kitchen and often justifies asking for a higher price tag. In reality, lightly used devices can cost the same as new standard devices. Yet when they’ve been polished and all worn parts replaced, most buyers won’t ask questions or care. Large, shiny, premium appliances make listing photos and descriptions stand out and add a wow factor when buyers first walk into a kitchen. Look for deals for these on Craigslist, Facebook Marketplace, and elsewhere.
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4. Repair existing windows rather than replace them.
It is usually much less expensive to repair a window than to replace it. If a spring or window is broken, they can be purchased for a few dollars and replaced in minutes. Thoroughly cleaning the windows and painting the trim will make them look like new.
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5. Refinish existing hardwood floors.
Flip TV shows always feature a hidden hardwood floor. However, even if you pull up existing carpet to find original hardwood floors, that doesn’t necessarily mean they’ll be suitable for your home renovation. Mixing and matching wood stains for a contemporary look after a light sanding can take your floors from dull to fabulous for minimal cost.
6. Refinish and refinish your bathtub and tiles.
Can’t wait to demo your bathroom and get rid of those avocado tiles and dirty tub? Think again. Rather than doing a demo and re-tiling, consider hiring a professional to re-glaze. Expect to pay anywhere from $800 to $1,200 to hire a contractor to fix all the chips, cracks, and rust on your disco-era tub, shower surround, and wall tiles. A good glaze job lasts 10-15 years and costs 75% less than replacing it. A professional can complete the job in 2-4 hours, with the tub ready for use in 48 hours, allowing your renovation to proceed quickly. Plus, you’re not limited to just one color. Consider glazing the bullnose (trim tiles) black to offset the white tiles below and add an upscale look to your remodel at a low cost.
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7. Renovate kitchen cabinets or replace front panels.
Refinishing kitchen cabinets is a tried and trusted way to save money on a home remodel. However, if the design of the existing cabinets in the house screams mules, leggings and acid wash jeans, give them a facelift. Replace fronts with sleek new designs and contemporary hardware. You’ll have swanky new kitchen cabinets in just hours at a fraction of the cost of installing them brand new.
8. Make an extra bedroom in an attic.
If you have room, create a room. Attics, especially those in older homes with stairs, are great places to create another living space. Framing, insulating and swinging sheets under the rafters can create an extra cozy bedroom, play area or office. It is usually relatively easy to install a mini-split ductless unit to regulate temperature. Advertising a flip with an extra bedroom or dedicated home office is a huge perk that will more than pay for itself in the listing price.
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9. Use gravel outdoors or repair concrete.
If you get to the end of your flip and the money is low, don’t worry, there are still creative ways to handle that cracked driveway to boost curb appeal. If it’s asphalt, hiring a specialist to repair the cracks and seal the coating will do wonders. For concrete, consider cleaning grime, patching cracks, and spraying on the stain, followed by a finishing sealer. It’s a relatively simple process that you can do yourself if you want to save more money. If the driveway is beyond repair, removing it and replacing it with gravel over a weed barrier will look great in photos and is inexpensive and easy to do.
10. Get your real estate license to save on commissions.
Getting your real estate license is prudent if you are flipping multiple properties or even a few expensive ones. It costs around $500 to purchase an online course that prepares you to take your agent’s test. Once you have the license, you will save a fortune on sales commissions. Plus, your friends, family, and other pinball machines might ask you to list their homes, earning you extra income.