Best way to learn to rehab

15 Replies

I am curious about different ways people learned to rehab/fix up houses. I am in the Minneapolis area and looking to do either live in flips or live in/buy another and rent out strategies. I have seen people learn from YouTube and also habitat for humanity, but am wondering what else is out there! Thanks!

Youtube and working with my dad. There's really no substitute for getting in the game and doing the work yourself (if that's what you want to do). I thought I'd be able to hire contractors for all the renovations but was naive as to how expensive that would actually be, so it ended up being a lot of DIY with some contractors for the major trade jobs. 

For youtube I'd recommend Jeff from Home Renovision DIY... I've fallen asleep to many of his videos after a long day of renovations lol. As to how you get into the game, that all depends on the risk you're willing to take and how big a project you want to take on. I would highly recommend house hacking or a live in flip scenario where you can qualify for a low down payment 30 year fixed loan which you can get insanely low interest rates on right now. Millennial Investor Focus Group on Facebook is home to tons of investors and some contractors in the twin cities so it can be helpful to post questions there as well. 

Try setting up custom searches on Redfin or another site with description words like "fixer upper", "handyman special", "value add", "unfinished", and stuff like that. With all the old houses in the twin cities there should be no shortage of properties that could use a facelift, but make sure it fits the criteria of where you'd want to live, if there's a decent ROI on your renovations (after repair value comps), etc.

Hope that helps - there's so many ways you can go right now but the main focus should be finding that first property. Good luck!!

Mirroring what @Evan Kraljic recommended, Jeff from Home Renovision on YouTube is my favorite DIY videos. He does a GREAT job explaining things and also doesn't do patch/cheap jobs. So I feel I'm learning the RIGHT way to DIY, not jimmy-rigged fixes. 

I'm currently doing my 1st bathroom renovation and hired a 22yr old neighbor kid who just graduated Tech school to help. I am paying him per hour, but it's still way less than a contractor/professional. Besides saving some money, I'm also learning along the way, so hopefully I can do my next bathroom myself. (however I'm realizing having a 2nd hand is nice) This could be a good option to get some more affordable labor, yet still have someone who has a technical background help. Reach out to local Tech schools and see if anyone is looking for part-time/side work. Just a thought. 

There are a few ways you could go about this. It depends on where you're at in your life. I was fortunate to have my Dad who's been in the construction industry his entire life as a subcontractor. I personally have owned my own construction company since I was 21. 

The best way to learn is by doing or by watching the do-ers. One option that I've recommended in the past is to hire a contractor (which will take more money) but tell them you want to learn the process and understand construction better. 8/10 contractors will be fine with that as they're used to homeowners looking over their shoulder anyway. Haha. Bring the contractor in and just ask them about things you are curious about. 

One of the most important things you can learn and understand is scheduling and phasing...the process of construction. I've seen first-timers and new investors burn thousands of dollars because they did things out of order. Knew a guy who was a new investor, thought he knew it all because he watches HGTV every day. He got his first flip and the first thing he did was put new laminate floors and carpets in....

Needless to say, once he was done remodeling the rest of the house, he ended up having much of the carpet replaced and even had to rip up some of the laminate flooring that got scratched and stained. Ended up costing him about $10k in labor and materials because he didn't understand phasing.

Work your way from top to bottom, ceilings, walls, floors. Ask yourself, "do I need to get behind the drywall in the ceiling"? New lights might require that, new heating or cooling systems, new electrical lines. Then ask yourself, "do I need to need to open the drywall on the walls"? This would be needed if your putting in new light switches or outlets, new plumbing work in bathrooms or kitchens and a host of other things. Make sure you get all that work done first before you even start thinking about paint colors and ceiling textures. Floors will usually be the last or one of the last things you do. 

Watch your contractor work through your project and ask questions. Pay attention to how they phase the work and how they schedule everything. After a few times of doing this, you'll begin to notice things more...things out of order in a schedule, trades that have lead times, understanding the importance of the schedule for trades that are really busy (typicall electrical, plumbing and roofing can be tricky depending on the time of year). Once you start noticing things like that, you'll know your learning. 

One last piece of advice, when it comes to electrical, plumbing and roofing, leave it to the professionals. Hire reputable contractors that are licenced and insured and check their references. Trying to DIY these things may save you some money but they will likely end up costing you in repairs or replacement due to failed inspections with the city. It just isn't worth the time you spend for the little bit you MIGHT save. 

Good luck on your future projects!

@Nole Harrington Those are both good, but honestly I'd say youtube is better. It's more specialized. If you need to take out a jacuzzi tub well.... there are a dozen videos on it. But how you learn is not by watching, but rather by doing. If you're DIYing, doing a live in flip and going room by room slowly is the best way. Asking the professionals at department stores specific questions, and when a subcontractor comes, just watching and asking questions too. Understanding what and why they are doing something.

@Spencer Kelly thank you for your response! I was curious as to if contractors would be a bit annoyed or worried about being slowed down by the home owner helping/learning but that doesn’t seem to be the case most of the time.

Let’s connect some time I would love to pick your brain more on this topic!

I bought a super ugly house, and fixed it up while living in it. The amazingness of YouTube University cannot be understated.

Originally posted by @Nole Harrington :

@Spencer Kelly thank you for your response! I was curious as to if contractors would be a bit annoyed or worried about being slowed down by the home owner helping/learning but that doesn’t seem to be the case most of the time.

Let’s connect some time I would love to pick your brain more on this topic!

Definitely. Feel free to message me and we can discuss more. 


Nothing beats being hands-on by ridding shotgun with an experienced rehabber. 

Find an experienced rehabber in your market and ask he/her if they don't mind having your as an apprentice and in return, you help with things to make their job easier. 

You would be amazed how much you will learn by just being around all the activities. 

Originally posted by @Benjamin Williams :

@Ola Dantis Do you have any tips on finding them? I want to get a job doing this. I’m very green in most stuff but I love doing home repairs and rehabs when I have the chance.

 Yes, BP is where to start right now, since most MeetUps, which are another way to find rehabbers, are currently shutdown.

Look for virtual meetups in your market and reach out to many flippers. Don't forget many of them will most likely say no, so you need to keep asking until you get a yes.