J Scott - Author of Flipping/Estimating Book - Ask Me Anything!

316 Replies

what is the bestway to evaluate a contractor long distance without any personal connections?

Originally posted by @Jacob Waterway :

what is the bestway to evaluate a contractor long distance without any personal connections?

I would never try to evaluate a contractor long-distance without any connections.  Three things you want to do:

1.  For any contractor, local or long-distance, you should be getting a referral from another GREAT contractor or a respected investor.  These days, I won't use any contractor who isn't recommend by someone else I trust.  There are just too many bad contractors out there.

2.  Next, if it's a contractor doing a large job (a GC, a foundation company, major mechanical work, etc), I would want to interview him, at least over the phone.  And again, if it's a large job, I would want to check references from previous customers (again, can be over the phone).

3.  Lastly, if it's a big job, you should look at a previous project he completed to get an idea his quality, or have someone else do this for you if it's long distance.

10 years ago, I would have said most of this was unnecessary, but today, you need to really do your due diligence on your contractors before hiring them.  And if they're long distance, make sure you have someone checking on them (someone you trust!) at least a couple times per week.

I have a 10000 sq ft 2 story building with a flat roof so the roof would be 5000 sq ft. What should I expect to pay to have a new layer applied. It is located in a small town in Western Washington if that makes any difference. Thanks in advance!

Originally posted by @Bjorn Ahlblad :

I have a 10000 sq ft 2 story building with a flat roof so the roof would be 5000 sq ft. What should I expect to pay to have a new layer applied. It is located in a small town in Western Washington if that makes any difference. Thanks in advance!

The biggest determining factor will be the type of material the roof is made out of.  PVC, Rubber, Built Up, Tar/Bitumen, Metal, etc...

Generally, you'd be looking at somewhere between $4-7/sf in much of the country (and I'd think western Washington should be in that group).  If you're doing PVC or metal, it will probably be higher than that.

The nice thing with roofs is that you can probably get a general idea of price over the phone, since roofing costs are pretty much independent of the actual property -- as long as you know the material and square footage, you should be able to get general pricing over the phone.

Feel free to shoot me a private message, and I'm happy to refer you to a few serious investors I know in that area...

Originally posted by @Bjorn Ahlblad :

I have a 10000 sq ft 2 story building with a flat roof so the roof would be 5000 sq ft. What should I expect to pay to have a new layer applied. It is located in a small town in Western Washington if that makes any difference. Thanks in advance!

Do you know what kind of roof it is? TPO, EPDM, Mod Bit, PVC, etc?

Get me that and a zip code, and I'll get you a good round number.

How many flips have you completed to date?

Originally posted by @Jose Juarez :

How many flips have you completed to date?

We've done about 175 (give or take) of our own flips/builds.  And we've been involved in another 200 (give or take) deals outside of our own flips -- everything from partnering flips, lending money, single-family rentals, multi-family, notes, etc.

Most of our flips/builds were between 2008-2015; the past three years have been more focused on other types of deals, lending and partnering.

Super looking forward to seeing the updated edition!

I know this is a open ended qn but - uncoventional advice always strikes me , in one of the podcasts you mentioned doing a gut rehab ( or rehab with extensive scope ) might be better than a lipstick rehab .

Many of the investors I spoke with suggested to start slow , but in my personal life and professional life , i had success taking up complicated projects so on any project i tend to ask , why should I start slow

Some of the advantages of complex rehabs ( gut/extensive rehabs ):

- lesser competition

- better room for negotiation

- higher value rehab , so better contractors might be interested

- Ability to add more value

- Opportunity to learn more ( I am not experienced )

Disadvantages :

- More risk of finding things one after another which are interlinked. 

- No DIY possibility and aso need skilled contractors

Advanatges of lipstick rehabs :

- Easier to see the scope 

- DIY possible

- Less risk as its more cosmetic

Disadvantages of lipstick rehabs :

- Lots of competition and some times from retail buyers as they just see the price difference and think they are getting a deal and that they could work on it over the weekends

- major value add might not be possible . For ex replacing a good but outdated tile with a new tile . 

=============

Are there anythings that you would add - that might help investors in similar dilemma .

Originally posted by @Bjorn Ahlblad :

@Paul Strauss it is a 'rubber' roof located in 98520-rain country! Thanks for any help.

Cool. I'm an insurance appraiser- I'll throw the basics into my estimating software and give you a round number sometime tomorrow morning. 

@J Scott

I recently bought your books and loved them both! Very informative and well laid out. With that being said, has enough changed in the 2nd edition to warrant purchasing them again? I just purchased the 1st set a few months back

Thanks again!

Hi Jay, just love all the informative info you provide us. In awe of your success in real estate . I was listening last week and heard you discuss about buying in the possible upcoming recession. Can you tell me where I can find that info again ? Can't seem to find it anywhere. Thanks in advance and keep on keepin on. 

Originally posted by @David Des :

I know this is a open ended qn but - uncoventional advice always strikes me , in one of the podcasts you mentioned doing a gut rehab ( or rehab with extensive scope ) might be better than a lipstick rehab .

Many of the investors I spoke with suggested to start slow , but in my personal life and professional life , i had success taking up complicated projects so on any project i tend to ask , why should I start slow

Some of the advantages of complex rehabs ( gut/extensive rehabs ):

- lesser competition

- better room for negotiation

- higher value rehab , so better contractors might be interested

- Ability to add more value

- Opportunity to learn more ( I am not experienced )

Disadvantages :

- More risk of finding things one after another which are interlinked. 

- No DIY possibility and aso need skilled contractors

Advanatges of lipstick rehabs :

- Easier to see the scope 

- DIY possible

- Less risk as its more cosmetic

Disadvantages of lipstick rehabs :

- Lots of competition and some times from retail buyers as they just see the price difference and think they are getting a deal and that they could work on it over the weekends

- major value add might not be possible . For ex replacing a good but outdated tile with a new tile . 

=============

Are there anythings that you would add - that might help investors in similar dilemma .

Seems like a reasonably comprehensive list.  In general, if you're comfortable doing both easy and complex rehabs, it basically just gives you more flexibility.  Start looking for deals, and whatever comes along, you should be prepared to tackle it. 

Originally posted by @Samantha Jorgenson :

@J Scott

I recently bought your books and loved them both! Very informative and well laid out. With that being said, has enough changed in the 2nd edition to warrant purchasing them again? I just purchased the 1st set a few months back

Thanks again!

Typically, what I'm telling people is this:

  • If you've read the first edition of The Book on Flipping Houses, and if you've done at least one or two deals, you probably won't get enough out of the second edition to make it worth re-reading the whole thing.
  • If you're read the first edition of The Book on Estimating Rehab Costs and you are still relying on price ranges in that book to help you with your pricing, then the second edition is likely going to be worth the cost -- pricing has changed a good bit in the past 6 years and the second edition is updated with pricing gathered from more than 50 successful investors around the country in the past 6 months.

Also, the second edition of the Estimating book has sections on how to better complete your inspections for each of the 25 major rehab components, so if you're looking to get better at inspections, that's another reason to purchase the second edition.

Originally posted by @Larry Rhodes :

Hi Jay, just love all the informative info you provide us. In awe of your success in real estate . I was listening last week and heard you discuss about buying in the possible upcoming recession. Can you tell me where I can find that info again ? Can't seem to find it anywhere. Thanks in advance and keep on keepin on. 

Hey Larry,


Stay tuned...  BiggerPockets will be releasing a book of mine on this topic very soon...  (I'm not sure if I'm supposed to be saying that, though!  :)

Originally posted by @Or Basan :

@J Scott why no audio books ?

The Book on Flipping Houses *IS* available in audio format here on BiggerPockets and on Audible as well.

The Book on Estimating Rehab Costs has a *lot* of tables and charts, so it would be very hard to turn that into an audio book -- and it wouldn't be very fun to listen to...

I HAVE A BIG FAVOR TO ASK OF EVERYONE WHO HAS READ AND ENJOYED EITHER OF THE BOOKS: 

WILL YOU *PLEASE* LEAVE A REVIEW OF ONE OR BOTH BOOKS ON AMAZON.COM?

THANK YOU, THANK YOU, THANK YOU!!!


Hey @J Scott - Do you ever plan on making your books into Audiobooks? Thanks!

*Sorry, just saw your response above :). Never mind!

@J Scott I just got done listening to your last episode on BP and purchased the book/zip forms/ebook bundle. Assuming the 6-tips you outlined during the BP episode are met for a flip/deal, when (chronologically) are you moving on from flipping? In other words, how long after the market indicators you referenced until you stop flipping?

Thank you! I think information for the better inspections will make it worth my while for sure. 

Originally posted by @Valerie Baumgart :

@J Scott I just got done listening to your last episode on BP and purchased the book/zip forms/ebook bundle. Assuming the 6-tips you outlined during the BP episode are met for a flip/deal, when (chronologically) are you moving on from flipping? In other words, how long after the market indicators you referenced until you stop flipping?

Hey Valerie,

Generally speaking, when I see evidence that we've moved past the peak of the market, and we're on a consistent downward trajectory, I will stop flipping.

BiggerPockets will actually be releasing a full book of mine on this topic in a few weeks...stay tuned!


Originally posted by @Bjorn Ahlblad :

@Paul Strauss Thank you so much for your help.

 Ok, so I'm shooting from the hip here- guessing it's an elastomeric roof covering. If I'm correct about that and it's mechanically attached (60 ml) you're looking at $4.00 per square foot ($400 per square) and that's just remove and replace the roof-- it doesn't include things like detach and reset of an HVAC unit, etc. or any other components like pipe jacks, vents, flashing, etc. But that's the range you're in.

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