The Top 10 Most Outrageous Fails I’ve Seen as a Real Estate Investor (With Pics!)

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Real estate investors see and hear a lot of ridiculous and downright humorous things. We are probably exposed to more sheer lunacy than virtually any other profession. I wish I had recordings from some of the more humorous tenant interactions I’ve had (although many weren’t that humorous at the time).

But what I can share with you is part of a picture project that I’ve put together. I call it The Ode to Do-It-Yourselfers. Most of the houses I look at are bank owned and almost all of them need a lot of work. Some of them have had treasures left to us be their former residents that should bare testament to the dangers of unbridled DIYedness. After witnessing more than a few of these remodeling abominations, I knew I needed to document my findings for posterity.

So here I present you with some of the funniest things I’ve seen being a real estate investor.

The Top 10 Most Outrageous Fails I’ve Seen as a Real Estate Investor

10. Bad Plumbing or Really Bad Ventilation


At first glance, this may not look like much of a problem. But the part on the left is a plumbing stack and the part on the right is a heating duct. One way or another, this could not have turned out well.

9. The Throne Room


Just in case you’re in the basement and all of a sudden, nature’s call makes those stairs an insurmountable obstacle.

8. The Application From Hell


Not every ridiculous thing has to do with a botched rehab. This is an application we got quite a few years ago. The applicant was in the office for well over an hour filling out this nonsense. I’ve redacted any potentially sensitive information, not that you could have made it out anyways.

Related: The 15 Most Hilarious Autocompletes from Real Estate Related Searches



A serious crime was committed against the English language that day.

6. Nicotine Paint


Why go to Sherwin Williams when you can just paint the walls with your lungs?

5. “Go Inside and Play Basketball with Your Friends”


Having a basketball hoop in my kitchen might make me a bit nervous about the potential collateral damage, but then again, who am I to judge?

4. Creative Plumbing


Anyone want to explain to me how this dishwasher (or sink) works?

3. Foam Should Be Illegal


This was a tough one. I could have chosen one of any dozen of photos I have of foam gone awry. Pro tip: foam expands when it dries.

Related: 7 Steps for Rebounding from Major Real Estate Failures

2. Gutter Fail


I’m not sure this guy knows how roofs work.

1. The Wall


Yes, that is a door that leads right into a concrete wall.

Folks, when it comes to Do-It-Yourself projects, please DIY responsibly.

Now that you’ve seen mine, let me know about YOUR favorite real estate-related fails.

Don’t forget to leave a comment!

About Author

Andrew Syrios

Andrew Syrios has been investing in real estate for over a decade and is a partner with Stewardship Investments, LLC along with his brother Phillip and father Bill. Stewardship Investments focuses on the BRRRR strategy—buying, rehabbing and renting out houses and apartments throughout the Kansas City area. Today, they have over 300 properties and just under 500 units. Stewardship Properties on the whole has just under 1,000 units in six states. Andrew received a Bachelor's degree in Business Administration from the University of Oregon with honors and his Masters in Entrepreneurial Real Estate from the University of Missouri in Kansas City. He has also obtained his CCIM designation (Certified Commercial Investment Member). Andrew has been a writer for BiggerPockets on real estate and business management since 2015. He has also contributed to Think Realty Magazine, REI Club, Elite Daily, Thought Catalog, The Data Driven Investor and Alley Watch.


    • barbara g.

      I remember one dishwasher that had extra cut out space that one could install a sink over. I don’t even know if they still manufacture that dishwasher. I think you should avoid this at all costs ayway. You probably would be better off buying a dishwasher that you could install beneath a stove top.

    • barbara g.

      I remember one dishwasher that had extra cut out space that one could install a sink over. I don’t even know if they still manufacture that dishwasher. I think you should avoid this at all costs ayway. You probably would be better off buying a dishwasher that you could install beneath a stove top. In the sink/dishwasher combination posted, they would have been so much better off not using a double sink (as pictured) but just using a single sink and then using a standard dishwasher. When you have a dishwasher you do NOT need a double sink.

  1. Curt Smith

    Nice pics! I bought a mobile home (double wide) and the master bath had a kitchen style faucet with side sprayer attachment… At first I thought hillbilly but then I bet the house wife with a bunch of dirty kids just wanted to hose the little buggers off and the side sprayer was just the ticket. LOL

    I left the faucet and sprayer as is.

  2. Lisa DuFaux

    Thanks for the chuckles! I can definitely relate to the nicotine paint but the wall in my rehab had one extra touch – someone had written in the white space, “Needs smoke!” We still make jokes about that 🙂

    In that same house, the DIY-er had tiled the kitchen backsplash. Instead of removing the outlet plates, he cut the tile to go around them. Awesome!

  3. Mindy Jensen

    This made my day!

    My favorite personal find was the guy who cut through the support joist to run a heat vent to the garage. The vent may have made the garage 1-2 degrees warmer in winter but caused me major headaches when I had to figure out how to jack up the sagging house.

  4. Mike McKinzie

    Now, someone needs to do an “Illegal and/or Dangerous DIY Jobs.” Like folks who pull water off the main before the meter. Or folks who pull electricity off before the breaker box. Or those who climb a pole to steal cable TV.

  5. Amy A.

    There’s a house in my neighborhood where somebody thought they’d create a cathedral ceiling so they cut the collar ties. Now there’s a big dip in the roof from the snow load. At least the house was abandoned years ago, so when it finally collapses it won’t fall on anybody. I’ve also seen a garage where the ties were cut to make room for attic storage.
    Guys, trust the engineers, they understand physics better than you do!

  6. Tyler Cruz

    I enjoy these “lighter side of real estate investing” posts.

    On a previous viewing of a property, I also saw a Throne Room! What’s odd though is that my throne room was actually in much better condition than yours (why bother?).

  7. Steven J.

    I just finished watching homes inspections and it really opened my eyes to diyers and the dangers they create. Sure the joists still hold at the moment but what other problems occur as it sits for years and years.

    and yes, expanding spray foam should be illegal in so many cases!

  8. Terrence Arth

    And that, ladies and gentlemen, is exactly why I stick to opening a few drains, tightening a few loose screws and changing filters and alarm batteries! Anything I might try would look just as bad as Andrew’s photos and I’m sure someone in the family would smell payback time, post the pictures and embarrass me to death!
    Thanx Andrew!!

  9. I love it – Thanks for the photos. There’s gold in them there photos:-)
    I call them equity photos…
    As a seasoned DIYer, (yes I made a few mistakes starting out),
    when I find those DIY blunders,
    the negotiations become friendlier and understanding on their attempts for their DIY fix-ups.
    Not to embarrass them of course,
    but to justify how the home will never sell with those code violations,
    and how I can relieve them of their burden at a significantly lower price.

    Got to give them a thumbs-up for getting off the couch and giving “it” a try:-)

  10. Max Miller

    Some observations:
    Was number 10 used for liquid or air? Funny either way.
    In 9, where is that right pipe coming from/going to since it has to go uphill to get to the drain. Was it just a trap?
    Spray foam can be a great tool in the right hands. It should be trimmed with an inexpensive snap-blade knife when cured though.
    I think the gutter one was just trying to get the downspout to a different location and I think it looks better than a sloping downspout across the wall.
    Entertaining stuff.

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