How much does one need to know about construction?

11 Replies

Hi, I am a brand new investor with zero experience. In talking to and reading about those who have successfully invested, most seem to have a very firm knowledge of the principles of sound housing construction--seems like most were flippers first. I have no such knowledge and can barely fix a water faucet. 

Are these skills I should acquire before taking the plunge? 

Originally posted by @Brian Tracy :

Hi, I am a brand new investor with zero experience. In talking to and reading about those who have successfully invested, most seem to have a very firm knowledge of the principles of sound housing construction--seems like most were flippers first. I have no such knowledge and can barely fix a water faucet. 

Are these skills I should acquire before taking the plunge? 

Unless they were licensed plumbers, electricians or general contractors prior to becoming a house flipper they learned via experience of fixing and flipping houses. The more houses you visit (with contractor in tow) the more you will learn. The uglier the house the better....

Kudos,

Mary 

@Brian Tracy   "How much does one need to know about construction?"

0

But you better know a good construction/project manager!

If you would have difficulty in changing a faucet, I think you'd be a prime target for getting ripped off by countless contractors. Mostly because you don't have the real world experience and would have no idea when you are getting taken advantage of.

I'd suggest before you spend anymore money on books replace your own kitchen faucet. This is one of the simplest maintenance/ rehab jobs. If done improperly can have costly results. SO go to your nearest mega store and ask them to help you get EVERYTHING you need to do the project. Before you go, take pictures of your existing faucet, cabinet, supply lines and drain so you have something to reference when you are at the store.  By doing this you'll get a quick or not so quick lesson in houses.

@Andy C. I like your reply. Yep get your hands dirty. I think a lot of investors know a lot also because they have seen a lot. Comes with the job. I have no experience changing my own faucet but I have seems it done 25 times at least and know when someone is not about to screw it up. Can I change one myself? Now without a great learning curve and a lot of cussing.
I have seen people starting out who offered their time to seasoned flippers as errand boys for free. Great learning experience for them.

@Nazz Wang Yes, when I had this realization I thought it'd probably be wise to get some hands on experience with someone pretty familiar with it all. I was actually thinking about joining a Habitat for Humanity team--then my educational experiences could help some other people too. Thoughts?

When you get a place under contract, have a pro home inspector look it over.  You don't have to be a master contractor to see if a house sits crooked, if the foundation has cracks, if the roof shingles are curling, if the ceilings are water stained, etc.  After you have a house, a handy friend or contractor could teach you things as they work.  Two instruct-friendly guys made a bid difference to me, an electrician and a plumber. They were seasoned and always busy so they weren't worried about job security by teaching me.  Necessity is the mother of invention.  After you pay $100/hr a couple times, you learn quickly!

Originally posted by @Brian Tracy :

I was actually thinking about joining a Habitat for Humanity team--then my educational experiences could help some other people too. Thoughts?

 That is a very creative solution to your concerns!  I take for granted my construction background, so I don't often consider what I would have done without it.  Your idea is perfect.  You will gain hands on experience.  You will also very likely come into contact with other "construction people" that may be retired that can teach you a lot for free.  They might also become mentors to you and help to protect you when you are involved in a project.  I will give you a virtual pat on the back for this idea.  Thinking out of the box will help you excel in your real estate investments.  In addition to gaining some valuable experience and contacts, you will do a good deed for your community as well.

I know several successful investors with minimal construction background.  Understanding the basics will be very helpful.  I am a buy/rehab/hold investor.  I do very little hands-on work anymore, I am primarily a project/property manager.  My background makes it easier to find and manage people that are much better than I am at the hands-on part.  I understand a fair amount of what they do, but I can't do it as well as they do.  

Being an effective leader will take you much farther than being the best faucet changer out there.  I see on your profile that you are an officer in the Army.  You have already received a fair amount of leadership training, make use of it.  Thank you for your service.

You do not need to know "how" to do it, but you better know how much it cost to fix. The best investment you can make is buy the flip book off biggerpocket's. The cheat sheet/repair guide alone is worth it's weight in gold (though you will need to find your local cost, but it at least gives you an idea on a range).  here is a guide on how to inspect a house.

Do not let it hold you back. If your wholesaling, pay a general contract a few bucks to walk through your deal with you. If you are rehabbing, get three bids on each project. Go through the whole property and write down what you would want done if you were buying it for yourself and your family.  

I still don't know how to install a faucet.  Have never installed a light fixture.  Just used a miter saw and trim nailer for the first time in the past couple weeks while working on my personal residence.  I think I can change an HVAC filter...though sometimes I can't figure out which direction it should face.  

That said, after 6 years in this business and over 100 rehabs/builds, my wife will finally allow me to change lightbulbs...though she still insists on supervising to ensure I don't screw it up.

@J Scott 

You are funny. 

@Brian Tracy  

My 2 cents are knowledge is power. Well, it will be helpful for you to try a few things (easy ones first) and you will get more confident and if you don't like to perform that stuff, than make sure you buy some good books on maintenance and repairs like the book written by @J Scott , it's a great book. 

Hope it helps.  

@Brian Tracy  A lot of basic repairs need to be seen done only once and are easy to do after that. Some repairs require special tools. Check out YouTube. There are a lot videos there that explain basic repairs.  I imagine there are a lot of investors that started out by doing a lot of their own work to save money. Parts are usually cheap, but labor can be really expensive. Even so, some of the most successful real estate investors have others do the repair work while they focus on finding and negotiating good deals. Working on the business versus working in the business, as the book The E-Myth Revisited points out. Good luck.

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