Property Walk-Through: Illegal Marijuana Grow House Fix & Flip

by | BiggerPockets.com

My company just purchased a property to fix and flip in Seattle, but it’s not your average house.

I’ve never seen this property until today. Walk with me through our newest acquisition—a former marijuana grow house.

Before we get started, here are the numbers:

  • Purchase Price: $300,000
  • Anticipated Rehab Costs: $120,000
  • Expected Sale Price: $550,000 to $575,000

From Raising Plants to Budding Profits

As I walk through the property in the video above, I’ll explain the rehab and the processes we’re going to go through.

Exterior

The outside of the house looks pretty great. It was a huge selling point for us.

The siding is brand new, the windows are brand new. Heck, there’s even a one-car garage with a new roof.

But the truth is, the outside of the house is so nice because the former owners didn’t want anyone to know anything was going on inside.

Interior

As I head inside, the first thing to note is the door is busted. Why? Because the sheriff’s department rammed their way in!

Basement

The electrical panel looks decent at first glance, but there’s a good chance that it’s been hacked into and spliced through in other areas of the home to power the growers’ heat lamps and other things. We’ll likely have to put in a lot of money to repair it.

Currently, the basement (where we entered) is unfinished, but I think we can finish it. The ceiling is high enough—at least according to Seattle standards.

What used to be plants and growing materials will all have to be removed. Like I thought, the electrical throughout the grow area is all spliced into.

But this is about 800 square feet of space. After some sheetrock, fumigation to remove the smell, and lighting, this area should be good.

There’s also a one-car garage attached. The owners walled off the garage door, but we’ll open that back up. We’re also planning to convert the one-car unattached garage into two cars.

The stairs to get upstairs aren’t up to 2019 code, but as long as we don’t touch them and put in handrails, we can leave them.

It appears there’s some knob and tube wiring along the staircase, but it may have already been terminated. If it hasn’t, we need to rip that out and get newer electrical in order to get the best resale price.

Seattle skyline panorama at sunset as seen from Kerry Park, Seattle, WA

Related: Video Walk-Through: How to Analyze an Investment Property

Main Level

Up one level, there’s sheetrock damage. We’ll replace that and refinish the walls and ceilings. A good chunk of money will be going into drywall.

Doors and windows have been barricaded up here, too, so we’re going to have to repair that.

Because the stairs to get up to the main level from the basement are kind of funky, there’s a bump out in the wall up here. We don’t want to see that, but it’s going to have to stay. We’ll probably end up creating a big coat closet right there to hide it.

The only bathroom in the house is on this floor. It needs to be gutted. We’ll add a double vanity and probably reposition the toilet. We’ll tile it up and make it beautiful.

And since there are four bedrooms in this house, we need to add a second bathroom somewhere in order to make a master suite (probably upstairs).

So far: a lot of sheetrock is needed, a lot of electrical will be replaced, and the plumbing will likely need to be redone, too—most of it looked galvanized to me.

Trash removal is going to be a huge expense here. The grow equipment is everywhere and there’s additional HVAC equipment throughout.

There’s acoustic tiling on the ceiling. It’ll also need to be ripped out to improve the resale value.

But throughout the main floor, these arched walkways are super cool. We’re going to keep those.

There’s a bedroom right next to the dining area—people don’t tend to like that. Maybe we’ll make it a den instead.

Currently, the kitchen is closed off by a wall. We might open that wall up if it’s not load-bearing, or if it is, we could either beam it or create a pocket window. Our designers will figure that out.

In the kitchen, the plumbing looks okay but, again, the electrical does not. And everything else in there will need to be replaced, as well—that $120,000 is going to go quickly.

Second Level

This is actually what’s called a one-and-a-half story house, so the ceilings are low. You wouldn’t be able to build something like this today. But since it’s already here, we can keep it.

Most of the walls that were built up here are plywood. All of this will need to be ripped out and sheetrocked, or sheetrocked over (if we want to save some money).

There are two big bedrooms up here—this is good. We could put the master suite up here or on the main floor, where there are two other bedrooms. If we built it up here, we could make it huge and eliminate the second bedroom in lieu of a six- or eight-piece bathroom.

To keep it a four-bed, we could add a bedroom in the basement. Alternatively, we could convert the basement into an accessory dwelling unit and make this a multifamily property. But putting in a bathroom in the basement could get expensive, so I doubt we’ll go that route.

For the most part, structurally the house is super sound—which is great news.

Would you buy this house? This is a big project. But once we get everything out of here, this will be a blank slate. Right now, all the junk in here is just a distraction.

This is actually kind of good for us. It scared other buyers away.

Related: Flipping Houses: The Ultimate Step by Step Guide

Final Thoughts

1. Don’t get distracted.

All this grow equipment is like walking into a hoarder’s house. Pay attention to the big things. In this house, that means sheetrock and electrical. Everything else is cosmetic.

2. Don’t be afraid to bring in help. 

If you look at a project like this and get overwhelmed, that’s okay. Bring in help.

We bring in a drafter to create a 2D or 3D floor plan so that we can spot rooms and nooks and crannies that are messed up. Then we fix them.

Bring in a designer. Bring in a contractor. (If you ever want to get a bid though, it’ll be less expensive if you get a demo and trash out company in here first and get all the junk out.)

Watch the video above for additional fix and flip tips!

Do you have ideas about what we could do with this house? Master bedroom upstairs? Master bedroom on the main floor?

Leave your ideas in a comment below!

 

About Author

Tarl Yarber

Tarl Yarber is the CEO and Founder of Fixated Real Estate LLC, a Pacific Northwest leading investment company with over $45MM in single family residential properties purchased, rehabbed, and re-sold over the last four years. With over 600 real estate transactions under his belt in his career since 2011, Tarl and his team are considered experts in the investment industry and specialize in real estate systems for success. Tarl has been a guest on episode 189 of the BiggerPockets Podcast, along with numerous others. After creating Fixated On Real Estate, the #1 Pacific Northwest real estate meetup for investors, and the PNW Big Bad Ass Real Estate Wealth Expo, the largest real estate conference in the PNW, he has become passionate about helping others scale their businesses to the next level. Today, Tarl focuses on his new passion, BRRRR (buy, rehab, rent, refinance, repeat) investing. Since he started working on BRRRR, Tarl and his team have accumulated 22 single family rentals in the Seattle market (in addition to their usual fix/flip volume).

11 Comments

  1. Drew Rickman

    Wow, this looks like a lot of work. Please keep us updated as to how the flip is going!

    My wife and I recently purchased a similar house in Seattle where they did all of the growing in the attic. Whoever had been in the house drilled a hole directly through the roof so the wiring could be spliced from the attic to the power lines up on the roof. Naturally, lots of water came in and created mold and ruined lots of the electrical work in the walls. We’re bracing ourselves for the big electrical overhaul we had completed. Let’s hope the previous owners of your house were smarter than ours 😉

  2. Alexandra King

    I am a designer/realtor in SoCal and worked briefly with a guy in his grow house, who also lost his business to a raid. He lost millions of dollars – all that brutally hard work, down the drain. Broke my heart. The Cannabis supporter in me is feeling the pain these Seattle growers are suffering. It’s always sad when the Feds destroy your business, life, property. Now, the “Flippers” come in and take advantage of their loss! So, my other side – the realtor/designer – says- koodos! Design Tip: Use the old ironing board as a spice rack:)

    BTW, show us the finished product, OK? And, consider going in to the cannabis industry – it’s lots of work but very lucrative (if you follow the law and pay the extraordinary fees, licensing and taxes and don’t get busted).

  3. Steven Scheetz

    I dig the walk through. Thanks for keeping thing in perspective. I was particularly interested in the last part when you mentioned bringing in a drafter for 2D and 3D designs. Great idea! Do you feel comfortable disclosing a range that one would expect to pay a drafter for this and any companies you’d recommend? I’m starting out, and about to launch my first wholesale mailer campaign. I was thinking having an additional element of potential design changes to create an extra bedroom or maximize the space during a rehab would entice would-be cash buyers to jump on a bid and increase the value I bring to the table versus my wholesale competitors. I really want to make a good impression on my first couple deals, because I know reputations are built very quickly in this business. I want to make sure my reputation is stellar from the get go. Thoughts?

  4. Steve Babiak

    The extra bathroom(s) will be needed no doubt. But for a shower, you will need like about a seven foot ceiling to meet code; not sure you have that (you didn’t hold up any tape measures 😉 ).

    I noticed that it didn’t look like they had bypassed the electric meter. So all that extra electric consumption probably tipped off the electric company that something odd was going on there. That’s probably how they got busted.

    Looks like they used trays to contain the potted plants – lucky for you they did that. I have seen such a house where the potted plants just say on the floor – moldy floors and ceilings as a result.

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