Question about Turn-key Flip contracts

50 posts by 11 users

Medium 1399664973 avatar alex 20 Alex R.
Bakersfield, CA
128 Posts
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Alex R.

from Bakersfield, California

Jan 12 '13, 11:34 AM
1 vote

Hello Guys

I am a new member to this forum and new to real estate too. I have a question about the flip projects.

Is that possible (or common) to sign a turnkey agreement with a contractor for the flip? So that they will provide all the materials and labors and get the project done for a certain amount with a specified deadline. If so what are advantages or disadvantages of this approach?

I think this will make it much easier for investor to know how much exactly his expenses will be and also saves him lots of hassles and expenses.
Also you can put a late fee penalty in the contract that if flip is not complete within deadline, for every day of delay there will be a fee that contractor will be charged.

What do you think about the whole thing? Is this good? Will contractors accept this type of contracts?

Medium 1399319639 avatar memphisinvest Chris Clothier
Investor from memphis, TN
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Chris Clothier Verified Donor

Investor from memphis, Tennessee

Jan 12 '13, 12:34 PM
1 vote

Im not sure what you are asking when you reference 'turnkey' and contractor in the same question about the renovation materials and costs. Are you asking about having two contracts with a turnkey vendor? One for purchase and one for renovation?

It is not common to buy a turn key property without it being renovatd first and probably unlikely that a turnkey company would sell you a property and then enter a contract for the renoavtions separately

Medium memphis invest logo 2015Chris Clothier, Memphis Invest, GP
Telephone: 901-751-7191

Alex R.

from Bakersfield, California

Jan 12 '13, 02:32 PM

thank you for your response Chris.

Turnkey contracts mean contractor will provide materials, labor, transportation ,.... and finish the entire job within a deadline.

here are more details:

A turnkey contract is a business arrangement in which a project is delivered in a completed state. Rather than contracting with an owner to develop a project in stages, the developer is hired to finish the entire project without owner input. The builder or developer is separate from the final owner or operator, and the project is turned over only once it is fully operational. In effect, the developer is finishing the project and “turning the key” over to the new owner.

This type of arrangement is commonly used for construction projects ranging from single buildings to large-scale developments. Under a traditional lump-sum contract, the owner agrees to pay the developer to complete a project that is built to the owner's specifications. The owner is given many opportunities to make decisions throughout the project, and to make changes as needed. In a turnkey contract, the owner is generally left out of the building process entirely as the developer handles all decisions and problems related to construction.

A turnkey contract may also be used in the residential home building industry. With a turnkey agreement, a builder or developer completes both the construction and the finishes in the home before turning it over to the homeowner. The homeowner is often offered a chance to select finishes, including curtains, paint colors and carpeting.

Turnkey contracts offer many advantages over traditional building contracts. Because the developer still owns the building until the project is complete, he has financial motivation to complete the job as quickly and efficiently as possible. A turnkey contract also provides more time for an owner to seek financing and investors before he is required to pay for a completed project. These agreements also save inexperienced owners from making difficult construction decisions, leaving these decisions in the hands of the developer or builder.

Before choosing a turnkey contract for your project, it's important to understand the potential drawbacks of this type of agreement. The primary drawback is the lack of control the owner maintains over design and construction decisions. For some owners, this may mean the project is not perfectly suited to their needs once it is complete. For others, this drawback may be canceled out by the potential for cost savings and shorter construction schedules.

Some owners may choose a turnkey-plus contract, which leaves the developer with some financial long-term interest in the project. For example, a builder will construct a retail establishment for an owner, and the builder will receive a percentage of the gross receipts for a specific period of time. This may encourage the builder or developer to make construction decisions based on the long-term needs of the project, rather than just the short-term decisions needed to get the job done.

Medium 1448323426 avatar jasonscott J Scott
Investor / Business Guy from Ellicott City, MD
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J Scott Verified Moderator Donor

Investor / Business Guy from Ellicott City, Maryland

Jan 12 '13, 03:12 PM
1 vote

It sounds like what you're looking for is a General Contractor (GC) to come in and take care of the renovation "soup to nuts" (what does that even mean :)...

This is quite common in this industry, especially for investors who don't have the time, knowledge and/or ability to find sub-contractors and personally manage them (the alternative to using a GC).

The benefits of a GC are:

- One guy does everything for a fixed price
- He takes care of all the materials
- He manages the contractors
- He manages the schedule
- He manages the budget

The drawbacks of a GC are:

- It's more expensive (generally between 7-20% of the total renovation costs)
- You lose control over the schedule, budget and contractors
- If you choose a bad GC, he could easily end up going over budget and schedule
- If you choose a bad GC, the whole project will go badly, not just one part of it
- You still need to manage the GC closely, at least until you have a good relationship and know how much you can trust him

I'm sure there are more pros and cons, but those are the big ones...

Medium lishproplogoJ Scott, Lish Properties, LLC
E-Mail: [email protected]

Alex R.

from Bakersfield, California

Jan 12 '13, 04:48 PM

[b]this is exactly what I mean J.

So the GC is soneone who manages the entire renovation project .

If he is going to do a good job, i think that extra 7-20% of the total renovation costs is well worth it.

Medium 1399535253 avatar forchunet Glenn Espinosa
Rehabber from Alexandria, VA
446 Posts
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Glenn Espinosa

Rehabber from Alexandria, Virginia

Jan 12 '13, 05:25 PM
1 vote

That's a big if

Don't think flipping is that easy and the term turn-key when applied to flips is definitely a misnomer.

Expect to make decisions about what renovations should be done, expect to be on site making sure things are happening, expect to be the one controlling costs and not over renovating.

Be careful, some GC's can sense blood in the water and many times they don't have any motivation to control your project costs. Why would they? The more work they do the more money they get paid.

Medium 1399589754 avatar sdelprete Steven Del Prete
Contractor from Brick, NJ
86 Posts
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Steven Del Prete

Contractor from Brick, New Jersey

Jan 12 '13, 05:49 PM

With a budget set and both you and the GC agreeing on the job to be done and the number you shouldn't have much of a problem going over except for things you or him can't see. Once started its easy to tell if he is going to try and add change orders to make money and you can just get rid of him if its happening. To save money your can try and find a GC that does a certain trade. That way he isn't just making money from the project but from real work he is doing.

Alex R.

from Bakersfield, California

Jan 12 '13, 05:49 PM
1 vote

" Be careful, some GC's can sense blood in the water and many times they don't have any motivation to control your project costs. Why would they? The more work they do the more money they get paid. "


that is the whole point of my question. My thinking here is first you do a Thorough investigation of what renovation / repairs are necessary and then invite the well-established conbtractors to bid.

And then you finalize a list of repairs with details, schedule, …. For a “FIXED amount” and also a late fee.

This way you make it crystal clear for them that “what needs to be done”, in “what frame of time”, the reward “how much they will be paid for “ and also the potential penalty “how much they will lose for any day of unfinished job over the deadline.

I think this is a fair and balance approach for both the contractor as well as the investor.

I am not sure if anybody is doing a flip this way though.

Glenn Espinosa

Rehabber from Alexandria, Virginia

Jan 12 '13, 06:06 PM

No there are many people doing flips this way. As you do more volume it is the only way to do flips.

The approach works - I was merely outlining the things that you have to look out for, especially when you first start.

Steven Del Prete

Contractor from Brick, New Jersey

Jan 12 '13, 06:08 PM

To sum it all up everyone here is agreeing with you that it's a fine way to do flips as long as you hire the right guy. You need to build a team around you and your contractors are part of that.

Medium 1399610497 avatar juanito John Mireles
Landlord from San Diego, CA
129 Posts
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John Mireles

Landlord from San Diego, California

Jan 12 '13, 08:10 PM
2 votes

The problem with this plan is that everything depends on the contractor. Everything. Now if you have a contractor who you completely trust by virtue of a successful track record in working with you, great.

But... if you're just starting out and don't have much experience in hiring contractors and have no existing relationship with one, the odds are very good that you'll be burned. I would be very leery of going into a flip with an untested team and little to no experience of your own.

Contractors are a funny bunch. You'd think that they'd be motivated by the fact that you owe them money. But you'd be surprised. They're more motivated by making sure they have a string of jobs lined up so there's always a paycheck lined up. That means that they'll drop your job for another one for a few days or a week or two (or more) so that they can keep the funds coming in. Or they'll just drop your job for one that pays more if you don't cough up more funds.

Besides, no contractor is going to let you go too long without paying him. Most will set milestones that once they hit, you pay. In the beginning, things go quickly and all is well. It's once you get near the end that it's easy for the contractor to move on to other jobs. Penalties won't matter because the contractor will just move on. The amount of money left on the table for them isn't enough to bother with. Meanwhile you're pulling your hair out because you're losing money every day and bringing someone new on will cost a bundle.

I'd much rather give my job on a handshake to a contractor that I know and trust than give it to a stranger (regardless of his references) using the most airtight contract in the world. Most new investors spend their time looking for potential properties. Where they should be spending their time is finding the right team for the job.

Steven Del Prete

Contractor from Brick, New Jersey

Jan 12 '13, 08:26 PM
1 vote

Where do you guys live that you all get burned? Who have you dealt with that does such things? The key here is reputable companies. Don't go hiring unlicensed people. Don't go with ones that have no references. Don't go choosing the lowest price as they will try to add change orders. Make sure they have insurance.

It's mostly common sense on hiring the right company. To say they will leave you job at the end for other paying jobs is crazy? Here's an idea, take them to court. When you win you can get anything it cost you in taking them to court.

It makes no sense for a contractor to not do what he promised. Each job he does he makes a new person happy. That person tells their buddy, family ect and then that company is getting jobs on referrals only mostly. Once you start ripping people off its not long until you lose everything and end up in court.

Do your research and find the right company. No need to be scared off from all these stories. They are just what can happen if YOU fail to do what you should in finding the fit YOU need.

Rant over sorry

Alex R.

from Bakersfield, California

Jan 12 '13, 08:46 PM

I completely agree with Steven and disagree with what John Mireles said here.
First of all, you should always do the homework and research enough before making a deal with anybody. For me it’s not only about a deal itself but more importantly what person (or company) I am dealing with. So if a person with no or bad reputation offers me the best deal in the world, he certainly is not going to earn my business no matter what he is going to offer.

On the other hand, we are living at the age of communications and information “flows”. One maybe able to screw the first client, or even the second one but it wouldn’t be long before he messes up his reputation so bad that nobody will do business with him anymore.

Google the name or address of a business and most of the time something comes up that gives you an idea of what type of people they are. And if no information is available, then perhaps that is a red flag right which indicates they may not be the right choice for your project.

Also to say that “It's once you get near the end that it's easy for the contractor to move on to other jobs.” is relatively unwise. If you know how to play the game by the rules and play carefully nobody can mess with you. That’s why you should never pay them in full upfront and always subject the last pay to completion of the project. In that case even if they want to move to the next job before getting this one done (which is highly unlikely of a well-reputed business) then you still have a good portion of project complete and can assign the last part of the work to somebody else for a reasonable price.

John Mireles

Landlord from San Diego, California

Jan 12 '13, 09:15 PM
1 vote

I don't disagree with what you guys are saying... but it's all too easy to go with a cheaper route when money is tight. For my latest project, my go-to A+ contractor wanted to charge $12,000 for my fence. Sorry, but that was way out of the budget so I had to got to plan B (that being myself, a handyman and a laborer). Because I know what I'm doing and I have a good team, it all worked out fine - for 1/3 of the quoted budget.

It's just all too easy when you're new to the business and money's tight to go with the low priced guy who doesn't have insurance or maybe doesn't even have a contractor's license. It's tempting to go with the guy whose quote comes in a 1/3 or even half of the established contractor. When money is really tight, as it often is with a flip, having a crew who can get the job done on a minimal budget is often the difference between a nice paycheck or eeking it out to break even. Cheap though is often way more expensive in the long run.

Alex R.

from Bakersfield, California

Jan 12 '13, 09:20 PM

Cheap though is often way more expensive in the long run.

nicely said and put

Medium 1399550055 avatar hoodster Ed O.
Real Estate Investor from Statewide, MO
518 Posts
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Ed O.

Real Estate Investor from Statewide, Missouri

Jan 12 '13, 09:39 PM

Welcome to BP.

I agree with a lot of what @John Mireles has to say about contractors. It's naive to think contractors will hit deadlines and will make you the priority and will hustle to get their last check.

There's a reason many contractors are self-employed.

As you complete some projects, I'd love to hear if your contractors perform as you expect. If they do, you'll need to share some of your tricks.

Medium 1399481425 avatar champak10 Champak Shah
Stone Mountain, GA
251 Posts
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Champak Shah

from Stone Mountain, Georgia

Jan 12 '13, 10:27 PM

Something missed here --It is not Wholesale or Flipping --the way you describe here --it is Fix and Sale -- First you have to take title to the property and have to pay all cash -- or take loan to buy the property --then contractor can come in and do all renovations --then what is the exit strategy ? --many investors buy AS IS to get at discount price --and many Rehabbers like to fix themselves -- that leaves only half the buyers --other investors who want to rent out and hold it --then why not just wait few more weeks and sell to the end buyer ( Owner occupied) at higher price --of course less than retail, and make more money -- you have to make sure to get 15 % to 18 % return on your investment --- how much interest are you going to pay contractor --if you do not sell as soon as he finishes the work -- make sure to do the numbers --for interest , carrying costs and profit.

Edited Jan 12 2013, 22:32 by Champak Shah

Alex R.

from Bakersfield, California

Jan 12 '13, 10:46 PM

Champak Shah

You just gave me a good idea: To pay the contractor AFTER house is sold and pay them a fair interest until it does.

This will motivate the contrators to finish the job fast, because they know the sooner the job is finished, the sooner they will get paid for it. So no room for goofing off and wasting time here :D

Another Point:

--It is not Wholesale or Flipping --the way you describe here --it is Fix and Sale --

I like to know what is the difference between Flip and Fix-Sale. Aren't they the same thing ?!!!!

Glenn Espinosa

Rehabber from Alexandria, Virginia

Jan 12 '13, 11:03 PM
2 votes


From my experience, that idea will NEVER work. Many GC's hire subcontractors who are living pay check to pay check. These guys will never do a job with the end payment somewhere in the far future.

The best contractors can "float" a job for a few months but nothing in the timeframe you are suggesting.

In theory, everything you have suggested is great and all. In reality, finding a competent and reliable GC is much harder than you are suggesting.

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