Advance Planning for Flipping Houses

2 Replies

I was looking for books on home flipping, and found "The Book On Estimating Rehab Costs" and it's sister book which led me here. 

I consider myself to be a relatively successful handyman in small town Iowa. I currently work somewhere around 15-20 hours a week, at times more and at times less. Many years have been spent working for my step-dad who is also a handyman in small town Iowa, however, he doesn't charge market rates for his labor in my opinion. 

I have many other interests so I don't focus on the handyman work as much as some people might think I should, and my lifestyle and bills are all geared towards low income, including living in a 1 bedroom home with low bills and taxes, and driving older cars. Recently, the economy has gotten better in this area and the demand for work has gone up noticeably. Most winters I have had the luxury of enjoying 3-4 months off and have appreciated it. This winter I got all of 3 weeks off before business picked up again.

I do get disability, as I'm quite hard of hearing, which might explain my part-time status. I've owned 6 different homes, and have lived in a wide range, ranging from a mobile home (also grew up in one) to a 6,000 square foot home that my grandmother owned. I have also done complete rehabs on 3 homes from the foundations on up for a tax sale investor. I have also done handyman work in 5 different states from Penn. to Wyo. over the last 20 years. I've done literally everything that could be done on a home, from roofing to siding to drywall to foundation repairs. I've even gutted a cabin to the point where the roof was shaky because the sidewalls were all gone and the roof was sitting on just wall studs before residing and reroofing. 

Later this year I will be coming into a good inheritance and I am doing my research on what I should know before I start flipping houses. 

I have absolutely NO interest in being a landlord. I did that for 7 years with a house that I owned while moving and buying/selling other houses looking for "home" and in the end I ended up losing money as the renter trashed the place and I didn't have money for renovations at the time. Nor did I want to borrow against the house to renovate it, small town bedroom community with very few jobs 30 miles away from a big city.  The majority of the housing stock in that town was old and run-down. Had a VERY poor layout from a couple additions over the years so it was fairly unappealing in more ways than one. 

I believe my main focus will be on houses that are between 2-3 bedrooms with less than 1500 square feet as I would like to keep as much of the effort "in-house" as possible, as well as keeping purchase prices around $20K and selling prices around $60-80K, with renovation costs at between $10-20K for materials as well as a new roof with a contractor- unless I start putting on my own steel roofs which I can do myself. I just hate doing asphalt roofs. I also build my own kitchen cabinets from scratch, takes about a week of part-time work for face frame kitchen cabinets for a typical kitchen. 

I've bought quite a few books on construction but I haven't started buying books on real estate flipping ON MY OWN without hiring a contractor for most of it. Anyone have any recommendations on good resources for this focus? The Book On Estimating Rehab Costs looks like a good resource to have, just to get an idea of what I should be looking at in renovations. 

I currently charge $25/hr for handyman work and hope to up that to $35/hr before too long. My stepdad is currently at $22/hr and thinks he's too expensive. I figure doing my own flips and renovations will offer the highest potential for long-term profits with my current situation in a rural area. All the homes that I have flipped have taken about 3 months from start to finish, which has been alright but I'm hoping to up my game as well. 

Thoughts? Thank you

@J Anders , welcome to BP! I absolutely recommend J Scott’s book on estimating rehab costs. That‘s what I used to put together a SOW for my first flip.

What part of Iowa are you in? There’s a decent number of us here on the forums. Good luck on the upcoming flips.

Originally posted by @Alex Cotton :

@J Anders, welcome to BP! I absolutely recommend J Scott’s book on estimating rehab costs. That‘s what I used to put together a SOW for my first flip.

What part of Iowa are you in? There’s a decent number of us here on the forums. Good luck on the upcoming flips.

Eastern Sioux land basically. I work in Ida, Cherokee and the eastern part of Woodbury County. 

I worked for a tax guy who's based out of LeMars and is nuts about his trees if you know who I'm talking about. Working on getting setup again to work for him as he has houses that are 2-3 hours away and I need a camper to work those jobs for a week and home for the weekend. Cargo van plus a nice 20-22' camper should do it, will probably take another year or so before I get there though.