4 Home Improvement Skills Every Flipper Should Master

by | BiggerPockets.com

As a rehabber, there are some jobs that are worth knowing how to do. Perhaps the job is too small to hire out, you can’t find anyone who will do it, or maybe you ran out of money due to unforeseen problems. Whatever the case, here are four jobs that are worth knowing how to do.

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4 Home Improvement Skills Every Flipper Should Master

1. Painting

Everyone should be able to paint. Few supplies are needed — and even fewer skills. A paint roller, paint pan and paint. Perhaps an extending handle if you are on the shorter end of the yardstick. You can paint the bulk of the wall first, then get the edges — or you can reverse that order. I like to get the edges and corners first.

I choose not to use tape to block off edges. I learned how to “cut in” by watching videos on YouTube. (This one is my favorite, but there are more than 69,000 to choose from.) Too many times, I would tape off the ceiling or edges, only to have the paint lift off when I removed the tape. It is really frustrating painting those edges again, and it doesn’t look nearly as good. The best way to learn how to cut in is to first watch the tutorial, then practice in the corners. They need to be painted anyway. Once you get the hand of it, painting goes really quickly.

Related: Flippers: Save on Trash Outs AND Help the Community With This Tip

Invest in a high quality angled brush, about 2-1/2″ wide. Smaller than that and you have to make too many trips to the paint bucket; larger than that and you start to lose control.

When the edges are done, get out your roller and start rolling. When rolling on textured walls, use a slow but steady movement. Going slower will allow the paint to settle into the deeper parts of the texture, reducing the number of coats you need to apply. A 10 x 10 room can be completed in just a couple of hours.

Top Tip: Buy quality paint. I purchased the cheapest paint I could find when painting my first house, and I ended up needing FIVE COATS to cover the color beneath. Fifteen dollars a gallon for the cheap stuff, but I needed 5 times as much as the high quality, $30 a gallon paint. Buying mis-tinted “OOPS” paint can save you a lot of money.

2. Basic Electric

Chances are good that the house you just bought comes complete with ugly light fixtures. Learn how to change that out yourself, rather than hiring an expensive electrician. While I wouldn’t recommend a complete rewire job on your first try, updating lighting — even installing a ceiling fan — can be done safely.

The library is full of books on how to do just about anything, including electrical. YouTube is another great source of information. Even better than a book, you can find a step by step video tutorial that you can watch again and again. A quick check revealed more than 57,000 videos to choose from.

Now, I’m sure I am going to hear from the electricians on the site who will say that it is not something to be messed with and hear stories of how homeowners have burned down their houses doing their own electric. I’m sure that has happened. If you aren’t comfortable with doing this kind of work, have someone who is more experienced help you out.

3. Basic Plumbing

Plumbers make a LOT of money. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, plumbing was done with copper pipes, which had to be soldered together. This is definitely a skill I don’t recommend learning on the job. One mistake and the whole house is flooded.

But there is a new sheriff in the plumbing department, and he goes by the name of Sharkbite. I cannot tell you what sort of engineering magic goes into the Sharkbite fittings, but they have made copper pipe repair lightning fast. You literally take the pipe and shove it into the fitting. Turn the water back on and no leaks. It is ridiculous how easy it is. Of course, you will pay for the convenience, but still not as much as hiring a plumber.

Even better, supply lines can be plumbed with PEX (in most cities), which is far easier and cheaper than copper. PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene. In reality, if your state allows you to use PEX, it stands for Preposterously Easy Undertaking (nothing starts with an X). We re-plumbed our entire house using a book from the library and watching YouTube videos when we needed more instruction.

4. Tiling

Easily the skill that has benefited us the most is tiling. Tiling is unbelievably simple to do. Lay mortar down, put the tile on top. There are nuances to this process, and I highly recommend watching several YouTube videos to see how it is done before you start in on your floor.

Related: 6 Bathroom Remodel Tips Every House Flipper Should Know

Oh, wait. Home Depot and Lowe’s both offer free classes about once a month on tiling. They will literally let you learn how to do it with their supplies, showing you the right techniques. There is no limit to how many times you can take the class, either.

Take your time and use a level. Mix small batches of mortar at first, and don’t be afraid to throw some out if you can’t use it in time.

Buy a tile saw at the big box store and learn how to use it. We paid $70 for our first saw about 10 years ago, and other than one new blade, we haven’t had to do a thing to it. We have used it for more than 1,900 square feet of tile, including ceramic, glass, slate and travertine.

[Editor’s Note: We are republishing this article to help out flippers newer to our site.]

Flippers: What DIY skills have you found to be most valuable to your business?

Leave me a comment below!

About Author

Mindy Jensen

Mindy Jensen has been buying and selling homes for almost 20 years. She buys houses, moves in, makes them beautiful, sells them, and starts the process all over again. She is a licensed real estate agent in Colorado, author of How to Sell Your Home, and the community manager for BiggerPockets.com, where she helps new and experienced investors learn the proper ways to invest in real estate to grow their wealth. Mindy is an alumnus of the School of Hard Knocks and will happily share her experiences with anyone who asks. When you can get her to stop talking about real estate, you can find her on her bike or adventuring in the beautiful mountains of Colorado.


  1. Good article Mindy,

    I grew up with a very hard headed father who refused to pay someone else to do any type of work… Ha Therefore, I have a lot of his traits. I used to do the majority of the work on my flips and rentals along with some help from my dad from time to time. I now usually have too many rehabs going at one time to do the work so I have subcontractors that do most. But, while I was doing the work myself, I learned to do most anything. I highly recommend being able to do the small plumbing and electrical jobs. I’ve done a little flooring work but I have a flooring guy that gives me an AWESOME price so I just pay him to do it all now. The last big thing that I learned to do out of necessity (to keep the flip from going over budget) was learning on the fly how to install concrete board siding. My dad and I put new siding on the whole exterior of a house that needed a major makeover. It was very labor intensive (I found out why the bids I got were so high) but we knocked it out over the course of a couple of weeks. I swore I’d never do it again!

    I still do some of the minor electrical and plumbing on my houses but we do so many at one time now it usually delays the flip if I try to do it myself… I have an excellent handyman that does most of my small repairs and I’m helping him learn to invest in real estate so it’s a great trade off!

    Happy New Year!

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks for reading, Clint. This post was geared more toward the smaller-scale flipper. Saving a little on repairs doesn’t make sense when you don’t have any time to do it.
      But you hit the nail on the head. Electrical and plumbing are so important to know how to do. Minor repairs still cost major dollars when you are hiring a professional. Major work should be left to the pros until you know what you are doing, but almost anyone can change a toilet. My limiting factor is arm strength, but a good friend can help you lift up the old one and install the new.

  2. Bob Cantwell

    Excellent article. Some additional character traits for successful rehabbing are patience, willingness to try new things, and perseverance (don’t quit when you mess up – try again, you will get it!) . As you pointed out, Youtube and internet searching are your friends.

  3. Good article but my experience is totally the opposite on the paint quality question. At first I was spending $30 per gallon on the expensive Valspar paint. Then I realized the first thing homebuyer usually do anyway is repaint. Second nobody ever walks in a house and says look at the quality of the paint on the walls. I was just wasting money big-time. I have used all the paint brands at the big box stores. My favorite for the money is Conco at menards. It is made by Sherwin-Williams and cost less than 20 bucks per gallon. But usually I just use their 9.99 Lucite flat. I find that the only person who appreciates paint quality is the painter. If I am going to be the painter then that’s one area where I can save. If you can’t cover a wall couple of coats chances are you should get an oil based kilz primer because you have some stains or you were trying to cover a super dark color

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks for reading, John.
      I agree that no one says “Look at the quality of paint on the walls” and most people do paint soon after they move in. But what I meant about quality is the time it takes me to paint. It is funny you mention Menards. That was where I bought the $15 a gallon paint, and while I was covering up a medium tone color, I could have done it in 1-2 coats of Behr. It took literally 5 coats because the paint was so thin. Paint, dry, repeat 5 times. When I am trying to save money, time factors in, too.
      The Oops paint section can help you out if you are looking to save money. You won’t always find a color you can use, though. I am in the home improvement stores so often, I always drop by the paint section on my way out, just to take a peek.

    • Stephen Shelton

      When growing up in the 80s my parents would repaint periodically, and then around 2003 I painted my bedroom in my house a bold color with quality paint. One thing I’ve noticed over this 14 years is that when I remove something from the wall there is no colorfade whatsoever. I think that is an important characteristic in paint that doesn’t seem present in cheaper paints.

  4. Lynn Weber

    My dad and I (our LLC is made up of him, my sister and our husbands) have differing opinions on DIYing. I would like to DIY what we can to save money, but he says our time is too valuable. Well, at this point, we have plenty of time, but not a lot of money, and we are just buying our first property, an occupied duplex. So we’ll have contractors handle the roof, major plumbing, and electric, but when a tenant moves out, I think we should do the painting, and little things like switching out toilets and faucets to save money. He may change his mind once he sees the bids!

    • Mindy Jensen

      I agree with the roofing and major plumbing/electric if your experience isn’t extensive. It sounds like there are 5 of you in the LLC? You could knock out the painting in less than a day if you all jumped in. And that faucet and toilet replacement should last decades. Get quality tenants! Screen screen screen! Good luck and thanks for reading.

  5. Julia Rowling

    The more skills you have, the more options you have. You can do the work yourself, it that makes sense, or you can contract it out, if that is more appropriate. Either way, you have a better idea of what’s involved and how to organize, budget for and supervise work that you yourself know how to do.

  6. Hi Mindy,

    Wow, you have built an awesome business! Love that you have the patience and skills to do a lot of the work yourself. Sounds like it has been very beneficial. I try to do the least amount of work possible – hah! but love what you have been able to do. We are in each other’s backyards (we’re in Louisville, flip throughout Metro Denver), should connect sometime maybe!

    • Mindy Jensen

      Hi Amanda. Thanks for reading. I would love to connect sometime. I’ll send you a colleague request.
      When you have little money and lots of time, DIY is the way to go. If you grow your business to a larger scale, or you already have bigger pockets, knowing how to do something can help you shield yourself from unscrupulous contractors.

    • Mindy Jensen

      Thanks for reading, Andrew.
      This article was really for the smaller-scale flipper – someone just starting out in flipping. I don’t think it is feasible for people who have multiple projects going at once to try to do much – if any – of the work on their projects. But when you have more time than money, knowing how to do these jobs can save you a lot of money.

  7. Trent Vanderzee on

    I’m with Andrew.
    I know how to do all those things and yes that helps, but just because pipes can snap together does not answer code questions about calculating DFUs for pipe sizing or knowing when to wet vent or when to dryvent a fixture and how to properly design a plumbing system. By all means, change your own toilet or light fixture, but don’t try to be a plumber or an electrician. You might get by doing some of your own tiling also, but you will get a faster turnaround and a better outcome by hiring a good subcontractor to install. Being the Jack of All Trades is being the master of none. And I say that of myself in recognition that there is a time to hire for the trade experience even in a flipping business… and saving your back and knees in the process. If you can’t make the numbers work without doing the heavy lifting then it is not worthwhile.

  8. Mindy Jensen

    Thanks for reading, Rich. Kitchens are a great thing to do yourself, but they require many different skills. I remodeled a kitchen one time and the quote for installing the cabinets was as much as the cabinets themselves cost! My trusty level helped me do that all by myself and saved more than $5,000!
    When installing trim, caulk is indeed your best friend. Make sure it isn’t silicon caulk, and double check that it is paintable.

    • Ya Mindy, good point on the caulk! I don’t know how many times during tear out I discovered they used silicone, or worst yet, thermoplastic!
      Agreed kitchens use many different skills! Flooring, electrical, framing, drywall, painting, plumbing, the list goes on and on! But do what you feel comfortable with, you will save tons…

  9. Nicholas Reece

    As some have chimed in with “just pay somebody to do it,” I have saved thousands by doing work myself and enjoyed the learning process. Some items, I agree, should be contracted out to save time and for quality purposes, but in my case, I usually had money to buy materials but not to pay for labor. My go to guide was the home depot 1-2-3 Book of home repairs. I consulted the book and combined with youtube videos gained some know how and confidence for the tasks. I now give this book to friends as home warming gifts.

  10. Fred Ramos

    Good advice! When doing a rehab (we do rentals only) and hiring a contractor, it’s good know how the job is done and about how long it will take….If you don’t, you won’t know whether the person you hired has done the job right or not…have had to correct a couple contractors… Also, not getting on to contractors (we use them and love’em), But can’t stress enough to inspect, inspect, inspect while the job is being done. not just when finished.

  11. Hi Mindy,
    Great article. I understand about doing some of the stuff on your own. My dad also done everything on his own, guess that is where I learned it. Bought a house and lived in it while I remodeled it. Done everything myself, even building my own kitchen cabinets, laminate flooring, tiling, electrical, plumbing, etc. I have done woodworking for about 30 years now and enjoyed doing it. intended on flipping house when market crashed. Rented it out then.

  12. Skip MacKenna

    Hi Mindy,
    You are correct about the ease of these jobs, but they do take time. I work full time while I am starting my Property Investment company, and believe that hiring contractors will help me get the rehab done faster (not cheaper). In Project Management the triangle of Cost, Time/Schedule, Quality is a set of tradeoffs. The question becomes do I work “in” my business, or do I work “on” my business. The time I spend doing all the things I know how to do will distract me from landing more deals.

    Your post brings me back to “Zen, and the Art of Motorcycle Maintenance” – a description of philosophy, whether to do it yourself, or pay someone to do it for you. Also, the more recent book “The E Myth Revisited”, and the technician, manager and entrepreneur – balancing these three within ourselves.

    My goals are to master my business, so, knowing the technical with hands on is important, but not something I should do all the time. My Time (tradeoff) can be used more wisely on Marketing, Networking, Looking for Deals, Making Deals, Going to closings, and at the same time using my skills as a Project Manager to assure the right people produce a quality product for my customers.

    This vision is to allow me to increase the number of deals that my company can be working in a given period of time, making me more profitable in the end. The profits will allow me to pay more people to do the jobs I don’t really want to do or have time to do, and allow me to help the community more. Lets see where time takes me as I am just starting in this business.

  13. DL Martin

    Excellent on all points. Very amusing to see so many of us whose “time” is more important than money. : )

    Next time you are in a Chipotle or an airport, or even a Home Depot bathroom, take a close look at the job done by the “professional tile installer.” Doesn’t look so “professional” does it??? I would be ashamed to show a rental house or apartment with such cosmetically deficient tile work in one of my bathrooms or kitchens. No thanks. I’ll construct the shower enclosure and lay the tile myself. My wife will grout and seal. And We will put the thousands of dollars in labor saved toward buying our next rental house.

    As far as electrical and plumbing go, I agree with you 100%. In a rehab you are not designing plumbing or electrical systems. You are simply removing old galvanized pipes or aging copper and replacing with like sized PEX or stripping out wiring and outlets/fixtures and replacing with new. These are not highly technical tasks but they must be done correctly. Correctly and to code. Period.

    I am a huge laminate flooring fan. This tool will make anyone an installation expert: Skil 4-3/8-in 7-Amp Sliding Miter Saw (flooring saw) $159.00. (Lumber Liquidators sells a similar saw for $149.99 )

    And the DIY list goes on and on…

    Bigger Pockets is loaded with “work smarter, not harder” folks whom are all very interested in working “on their business” not “in their business”, blah blah blah. I worked a full time job and did my own rehabs for fifteen years. Yes, working sixty to seventy hours a week for three months in a row while you are doing a rehab sucks. But now, at age 50, I am retired, no primary residence house payment, and I am “set” for the rest of my life. My wife (17 years younger than me) is also set for the rest of her life. We didn’t get in this position by working “smarter.” We got here by working “harder.”


  14. Kyle Critchnau

    One thing to remember about the plumbing end of things is if you’re using PEX piping, DON’T LEAVE IT OUT IN THE SUN!! My brother is a plumber and there’s a restaurant in town that used PEX piping during their remodel but the contractor left it out in the sun over the weekend, and now just a couple of years down the road, my brother has had to go there at least once a week to fix leaks in the PEX pipes.

  15. Robert Taylor

    I definitely agree that having DIY experience is a MAJOR plus for landlords and those “F-word” people (I’m starting a personal, one man crusade to END the use of the F-word, no not the one you probably think I mean that’s considered vulgar in pretty much any context and refers to a sex act, I mean “FLIP”, “FLIPPING”, etc which I truly believe based on years of proof HURTS all of us who take any property in need of help and RENOVATE, RESTORE, REJUVENATE it, we don’t FLIP it! The F-word conjures up in so many buyers minds some corner cutting, slapped together hunk of junk house that’s now held together by new paint and probably 100 rolls of duct tape, I’ll stop for now, but I URGE everyone to think about how awful that term sounds to many buyers, who don’t forget aren’t just making the biggest purchase of their lives, but also will be depending on this “FLIP JOB” to actually be a SAFE home for them while they are sound asleep, or their young children are, etc. We need to ditch the F-word yesterday!) So, I DON’T FLIP houses, I renovate them and modernize them, to create an end product with lasting value, not some pile of repair bills waiting to happen.

    That said, I also would as strongly as I can, URGE anyone with a DIY streak in them (and this grew out of a hobby for me, working on stuff on the first duplex I bought in my early 20’s) to check your local code book inside and out BEFORE attempting to do ANY electrical or plumbing work for sure, as well as any “major” renovations, such as gutting any room to the studs. What you ought to be VERY concerned about isn’t nearly as much about “getting busted” by the local inspectors, but that’s not a good scene either, what you MUST concern yourself with is potential liability for years or decades to come!

    Here in WI, you need an electrical or plumbing permit for nearly ANYTHING done in those areas, the only exception being a few municipalities will still allow an OWNER-OCCUPANT who’s lived in the home for a period of time to pull their own permit for electrical/plumbing, but even then you really aren’t covered for civil liability say if it is your real home, no funny business and maybe 5 years later you sell it for whatever reason. If ANYTHING goes wrong, especially electrically (i.e. FIRE!!!) unless you somehow got yourself insurance coverage as a non-electrician who’s going to do some of their own wiring and good luck on finding that coverage, YOU are on the hook if something goes wrong and the law here as I understand it is that as long as whatever you install permit or no permit is still in use-could be 30 years from now-YOU will be sued if it shorts out, starts a fire and someone dies. That’s a seven figure lawsuit easy!

    If its non owner occupied, I know of nowhere around here that allows anyone but a licensed master electrician/plumber working for or owning a licensed contractor to pull those permits. So, yeah maybe having more than just that ONE OUTLET in the entire kitchen would be a necessity and a lot safer than having it overloaded and yes, you can find the info on the net or in hundreds of books and yes, home wiring is not rocket science, BUT DO YOU WANT TO TAKE ON WHAT’S LIKELY GOING TO BE DECADES OF POTENTIAL MASSIVE LIABILITY, LIKE THE AMOUNTS OF $$$ THAT CAN WIPE OUT FINANCIALLY EVEN SOMEONE WHO’S PRETTY WELL OFF???

    Even worse, what if you did that work and did it perfectly, but maybe the next owner has “handyman Pete” from craigslist come over and in between fixing a roof leak, doing an awful tile job over just greenboard in the shower, painting the dining room and of course using tape, he also adds another outlet or two in the kitchen, piggybacking onto your correctly installed ones and screwing it up royally, before stealing some of the wife’s jewelry and skipping town. Two months later the house burns down and God forbid, a couple of people don’t make it out of there alive. Now, it will be on YOU to prove that YOU didn’t install those outlets and what if that new homeowner wises up or gets some good but unethical legal advice and forgets handyman Pete was ever there, how the heck do you clear your name and not lose a seven figure lawsuit now???? If you are able to somehow, it will be a miracle and still cost you a hell of a lot in legal bills, time and I don’t even want to think about the stress it would cause me, SO JUST HIRE A PRO FOR THAT AND MAKE SURE HE/SHE GETS A PERMIT!!!

    • Michael Evans

      Great post Robert! I’m a general contractor and sometimes do remodel jobs for customers. I’m always amazed when they say “why do we need a permit for that?”
      That is usually a job I will end up not taking because of the lack of understanding about what you just mentioned.
      Mike Evans

  16. kara haney

    the ideas you present should be self-evident – and I agree the ones you highlight are easy – even soldering copper is easy – I dont do gas however.

    I have looked at a number of properties with owner renovations – so many of them are badly done and mean I have to do them over – making the property even less valuable than it was in the pre-reno state – so if you intend to do any of these things – make sure you are careful – it is not rocket science but you need to do it right.

    there are a lot of resources – many guys at HD and Lowes etc used to co the work and have a wealth of knowledge – ask them. use quality supplies – they usuall look better and make the job easier. dont skip steps – yeah maybe you can skip taping in painting but maybe it is worth taping the windows too. use good tools but dont go overboard – the FEINMASTER is a great tool, but now there are copycats from other makers that work as well – and maybe you dont need an aircompressor nail gun – check out how much each gun attachment costs and see if you really have enough work to justify it. putting up studs and sheetrock is not rocket science either – but you will need help – sheetrock is heavy.

    have fun!

  17. Jesse Vipond

    This is a great list of basic skills that can save every investor, not only in rehab costs, but for buy and hold owners, major savings over the life of a property! My partner and I purchased our first two rental properties (7 units) last year and are hungry for more! Our primary goal for 2016 is learning how to do basic rehab/handyman work. We might not be able to do it all, but we can learn enough to help improve our bottom line, for sure!

    Not sure if anyone already mentioned it, but I’d add this tip: Do-It Yourself Workshops at Home Depot. They usually have one or two per weekend covering basic home improvement projects and skills. I just signed up for “How To Install A Faucet” this Saturday! They’re an hour and half long, and most importantly, it’s FREE! Plus, you never know where your next deal will come from. It might be a great place to network, so have your business card ready! Thanks again!

  18. Jerome Kaidor

    Here’s another useful DIY skill – LOCKSMITHING. I learned to rekey locks about 15 years ago, and it has been endlessly useful. I have trained my staff to do it too, and made sure that they have the appropriate supplies. Each location also has a key machine.

    Somebody moves out unexpectedly – rekey the locks! Somebody especially nasty moves out – rekey the street doors for the building! All sorts of uses. I also learned to pick locks. It’s legal as
    long as you keep to your own property. I happened to be at one of my complexes, the tenant
    had locked himself out. Whipped out my handy lockpick set – one happy tenant, saved a locksmith service call.

    • Mindy Jensen

      GREAT idea, Jerome.
      Eric D. recommends this skill, too. He bought a key machine and has saved himself a ton of money making keys for his tenants. He has many units, so it makes sense for him. Great suggestion to rekey the exterior door when someone nasty moves out.

  19. Robert Taylor

    I’m also leery as far as the people working at any big box home improvement store, unless I’ve gotten to know them to at least enough extent to know if they know all about the stuff that HD, Lowes or also here in the Midwest, HD and Lowes get very strong competition from Menards as well and all three have SOME people there who know their products (as I’d sure as heck hope they would, but at certain poorly run locations, its like bad comedy hour and only a select few can even tell you where an item is located and clueless beyond that) but even at one location where I’ll just say there’s a LOT of the color orange all over everything and its a constant disaster, much different from most of their stores that seem well run, even there they have several people like a guy in roofing, exterior stuff area who is a wealth of knowledge, a lady in paint who unlike most box store paint people, can honestly match up with a sample as good as I’ve seen at any SW, Ben Moore, etc where its pros staffing the desk, but that’s why even though I personally LOVE Behr paint, seeing a pro painter there picking up 30 gallons is also day to buy powerball tickets, since obviously something very odd is happening that day if you see pros buying paint in line with lady/guy who takes 15 min to decide on 1 gallon of paint!

    So, if I see people I’ve grown to trust over 15 years, I’ll take advice but otherwise its a real crap shoot and thing is, they’re working for HD, Lowes, etc NOT YOU so they’re not usually too concerned or well versed on things that could sink not just your RE investing, but wipe you out completely, like getting into a massive lawsuit! Electrical? Yeah, I’m pretty confident I could wire a normal new home, right into the main panel, just couldn’t hook the panel to service coming in. Yes, I’d take a lot longer and would need to double check many things, but would I even consider it? HELL NO!!!!!!!!!!!!! Because I’m worried about inspector “busting me” and some fine? Not a good thing, but not that big of a deal in the big picture, so why do I say HELL NO??? LIABILITY!!

    Electrical is obvious one, but plumbing can have massive liability as well, could cause structural collapse in flood that ends up being fatal to maybe 3rd owner since I sold the place 10 years earlier, but as two very good attorneys told me the same thing, as long as any fixture, fix or new add on is in use, even many years later, I’m potentially on the hook very easily and what if buyer I sell to is some idiot who starts doing all sorts of hack job projects and repairs and he/she sells and that buyer has fatal disaster linked to faulty, unpermitted work done by unlicensed clown?

    Now I’ll almost certainly have both municipal officials (fire marshal or some have part of PD handle it) tracking me down, PLUS the insurance co hired guns who having seen a few other people deal with this, they’re no joke whatsoever when ins co has a multi million $$$$ payout they’d LOVE to pass on to whoever did the illegal and not even close to code work the city officials deemed the cause. How much will it cost me simply to prove that it was my buyer/moron who did the hack jobs and not me? If I fail, unless I’m a multi multi millionaire or billionaire by then, (unlikely I’d say, but I’m hopeful!) if not and I fail to get myself off the hook, I’m wiped out! So call my attorney and wow will that be a whopper of a bill for this one!

    I’m continually amazed in this biz the total obliviousness so many, even many experienced investors have towards massive liability that follows you for many years after selling, even things like paying cash for workers, like “grunt work” and not having workmens comp, you put huge bullseye on your back! Or the BS with “you’re not my employee, you’re an INDEPENDENT CONTRACTOR!!! I send out 1099’s and everything, its all legit!” Yeah all good unless you get audited! It will take them all of about 10 min to figure out what’s really up there and IRS and most states have their “employee vs indep contractor checklists” (#6-How many other customers did this “contractor” have? #7 Where does he/she advertise? #8 Any business cards? #9 . . . OK time to pay up on those uncollected taxes, employer contribution plus of course, interest and penalties-oooh that’s more than I’d have thought, actually more than a new Benz!)

    Also, just a couple of my favs, if you hire a “pro painter” who starts taping off, prob just some ex con or fugitive since pros rarely if ever use tape, pro tiler who has bucket of pre-mix mortar (says right on it safe for wet areas!) then its no pro, good luck finding pre-mix junk in tile pro’s van. Yet, I’ve had the box store experts try to sell me this stuff and they stock lots of both, but that’s just humor, huge liability is NO JOKE at all!

  20. Michael Woodward

    Thanks for the article Mindy! Speaking for myself, the following list is what evolved from MANY years of doing things myself…..

    1) Find a quality painter that charges reasonable rates. Never pick up a paintbrush again.
    2) Find a licensed electrician that charges reasonable rates. Never pick up a screwdriver again.
    3) Find a licensed plumber that charges reasonable rates. Never pick up a plunger again.
    4) Find a good handyman that knows how to install tile and that charges reasonable rates. Never pick up a trowel again.

    If someone enjoys doing the work themselves…. have at it….. If they want to make a lot of money, they better find someone else to do these tasks or they will never make it past $30/hour.

    My two cents….. 🙂

  21. Michael Woodward is spot on! This article is great advice for investors that don’t aspire to have a big portfolio. But for those that do, most of these rehabbing chores can be bought for $20-25 per hour. Luckily, manual labor is not my forte. If it was, I probably would have bought about 6 houses, instead of 600.

      • Thanks Mindy. I did enjoy your article. But I think you got the chronology, and therefore the moral, of my story a little backwards. I don’t avoid manual labor because I have a lot of houses. I have a lot of houses because I avoid manual labor!

        I also had pretty modest goals until I realized that the highest paying tasks (writing and negotiating deals) were also the most fun. And when I realized that managing 100 properties wasn’t much harder than managing 10.

        • Mindy Jensen

          Oh no. I know that hiring it out is the best way to scale up. You absolutely cannot do your own work – except manage the properties – with 600 units.
          I’m not knocking 600 units or high goals, I just am not headed in that direction – and most people aren’t going to be competing with you, either.

  22. John Murray

    The higher the skill level equals greater profit. I’m journey level electrical and have 8 SFH. It is true that some people should never pick up a tool for safety reasons but the majority of people should know how to use tools. It is very difficult for me to turn down $100K in profit for 600 hours of work tax free. Tell me where can a tool challenged person can make that kind of profit with the exception of drug smuggling.

  23. Letitia Harris

    A great article, thank you! I’d add in doing the light landscaping/yard work.
    When I’m flipping a house, I take charge of all the outside yard work, trimming up with a sawzall, electric pole saw, planting… I do the easy painting jobs too, if it makes sense.
    My best muscle is my brain, keeping it all flowing, supplies on hand, etc…

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