Flipping Houses

Planning Which Materials To Use For Your Rehab

39 Articles Written
Materials Rehab

If you plan on getting started, or are already fixing and flipping houses, planning ahead is always wise. You should be learning about the rehab process. How to find and work with contractors. How to determine repair costs. How to do things correctly so that you don't wind up losing money…

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One of things you can do to plan ahead is research what materials you might use and what they currently cost. You don’t need to be an experienced contractor or architect to figure out what will look great in a rehab.

A word of caution here however. Some people think they are great at design but are the furthest from it. It would be wise to get some second and third ‘honest’ opinions on what you think would look great.

The key is not necessarily what you think would look great, but what your potential buyers would think looks great.

Million Dollar Tip

Don’t just do what all the other flippers are doing. When buyers are looking for a house they are usually looking at A LOT of houses. They all tend to become a blur, especially when they all look a like. Do something a little different. Something that will make them remember your house because it had some design features that none of the others had.

When we were just getting started, it seemed like everybody had white tornados going through their flip houses. Everything was white, white, white.

Then there was the move to the tan and beige with white trim that so many people are still clinging to.

You can use different colors that are still neutral but stand out so much more.

It’s not just paint colors either. Choose different tile. Don’t just go with the faux stone look all the time. That’s sort of old and busted. Try a modern looking tile. There are so many new and amazing tiles out there that the possiblities are endless.

This is the key to selling quickly and for top dollar.

Go ahead, take that to the bank. I won’t stop you.

Hitting The Streets Helps To Prepare You

Hitting the streets (and the stores) can also be a fun part of the learning and preparation process.

Maybe you’ve been reading and learning all you can about this amazing business and are ready for a field trip of sorts.

Hopefully you’ve determined a fair sized ‘farm area’ where you plan on spending most of your energy finding houses to flip. You should try to find an area where rehabs are taking place and houses are selling within a reasonable amount of time (typically less than 90-120 days is best). These are generally a little older areas where there are houses that need updating and repairs so that you have more of a chance of finding a good deal.

Drive these areas and look at the houses being fixed up. Talk to and get cards from the contractors working on those rehabs. Pay attention to what materials and finishes they are using. Are they boring? I’ll bet most are.

My wife and I always laugh when we see a house and immediately both say, “that’s a rehab!”. You can just tell because they are typically all the same.

We can laugh because we did the same thing for so long.

Look at the houses that are for sale that have already been fixed up and keep notes on what things you like and things you don’t like. Try to find an area of the rehab where yours can stand out from the herd.

Keep Track of the Materials You Plan to Use

Take several trips to the big box stores like Home Depot and Lowes and look at the different fixtures and materials that you can use in the houses you intend to fix and flip.

Technology these days make this so easy. You can simply take pictures of the ones you like with the a picture of the SKU and price tag. If you’re really into organization, you can set up a spreadsheet that has all of this information broken into categories for rooms, interior, exterior, etc.

Try to find items that you didn’t see in the houses you visited. Look through the house magazines and on Pinterest for design ideas that you can likely do without busting your budget.

It’s important to keep an eye on the bottom line.

Don’t go spending crazy amounts on materials that only look slightly better than similar ones. You are not going to be living in this house, so don’t over do it.

Use This Knowledge To Help Estimate Your Repair Costs

You can return to all of this data when you do get a house to flip. This way you can budget your repairs more accurately because you know exactly what a lot of the materials are going to cost.

You might want to double check prices for certain items on line, as prices do change.

I’ve used information from data gathering field trips that were done several years earlier. Obviously the contractors weren’t happy when they found out that most of the items had gone way up in price (I was fair and compensated for the difference).

Don’t Make Contractors Guess What Materials You Want

In the beginning, I was a fool by allowing a contractor to use whatever fixtures he wanted in a rehab. Needless to say, they didn't look good.

If you give them SKUs and where to find the materials, you know what you are going to get. We all like surprises, but this isn’t a time when want them.

Don’t be afraid to step away from the computer

Get out there and see what is going on. See what trends are locally. See what people are doing and find an edge.

Have fun.

Photo: Josh

    David Ray
    Replied over 7 years ago
    “Have fun.” Seems like a lot of people, in general, forget this. Great tips.. Being someone who is just getting their foot in the door, reading articles like this only excite me more for what is to come. Thank you.
    Danny Johnson
    Replied over 7 years ago
    David, Thanks. You’re right. We can get so caught up and wanting to make things happen right away that we forget to have fun in the process. That’s really what it’s all about.
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Thanks for the article. I like the fact that the box stores are starting to keep track of the paints you bought. Maybe soon you’ll be able to log into your account and see pictures and prices of all the things you’ve bought there, which could make life easier.
    Danny Johnson
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Great point, Adam. I hope so too.
    David Morrow
    Replied over 7 years ago
    I don’t know about the others, but Home Depot has been able for years to look up the buying history of an individual credit or debit card. It’s very useful for returns without receipts and for trying to find “that one thing you really liked that one time when you bought it”. Reply Report comment
    David Morrow
    Replied over 7 years ago
    I don’t know about the others, but Home Depot has been able for years to look up the buying history of an individual credit or debit card. It’s very useful for returns without receipts and for trying to find “that one thing you really liked that one time when you bought it”.
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Great article Danny (As always!) I especially resonate with the part about expecting your contractor to know what fixtures to use. I intend to use this as the area where I am finally able to involve my wife in my business. So far she views investing as something that is out of my reach to my full time job and lack of cash flow. What she is not seeing is the foundation I am building via the connections I am making, the deals I am finding, and the tremendously successful people I have in my corner (like you and Mike LaCava). I plan to treat each rehab as a challenge for her. See, we have always spent two to three weeks remodeling every house or apartment we have ever lived in before moving in, so I know she loves doing it. I want to let her get creative (while still keeping it within budget) and also slowly build up some staging furniture/decorations. She gets to design without sweating it out, she can put a little of her own touch on things as long as it is generic enough to appeal to the masses and just not a small demographic. I know she is a big fan of the country look, which is great for some people, unless they are hellbent on contemporary or modern.
    Danny Johnson
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Thanks, Jason. Glad to hear that you are planning to do this together. It will make all the difference in the world to have both of you excited about it. My wife, Melissa, enjoys the design aspects of the rehabs and staging as well. She likes to laugh at my suggestions. 🙂
    Replied over 7 years ago
    We started looking at kitchen and bath stuff in the very beginning until I realized we were a million miles away from that step. To be honest its a little overwhelming and I needed a kick in the tail, so thanks for that. Have you ever used a design consultant?
    Danny Johnson
    Replied over 7 years ago
    We haven’t used one before but I do know a couple investors that have for higher dollar homes. I’m not very good at design either, but my wife is. This is just another example of where you have to realize that you won’t be an pro at anything right out of the gate. You never become good at something until you do it. Of course the first few might not look the best, but you will see progress and get better at it.
    Replied over 7 years ago
    Great tips on checking out items to buy for future flips and keeping that categorized on a spreadsheet (I’m an organizational person so I love that idea!). And I was happy to see your tip on checking out houses that are currently for sale and have been fixed up. I have done that myself and think how something they did would look nice in a flip or, on the flip side, (no pun intended, haha) how I would have done something differently.
    Danny Johnson
    Replied over 7 years ago
    There is so much to be gained by spying on what other’s have already done. If they do something that you don’t like, it could save you from making the mistake. Time well spent.
    Replied about 7 years ago
    Great Ideas Danny. I might be a little conservative in the choices we use. You made me think a little I might want to consider other options.
    Danny Johnson
    Replied about 7 years ago
    Hey, Mike. You don’t have to go crazy. Just do some little things that make it stand out from the sea of other rehabs.
    Replied about 7 years ago
    Great Ideas Danny. I might be a little conservative in the choices we use. You made me think a little I might want to consider other options. Reply Report comment