Top 3 DIY Skills To Learn For Rehabbing?

35 Replies

Hello BP! As I am continuing to work on a real estate investing plan I began wondering what DIY skills my team and I should learn to do. What do you feel are the top 3 skills to do yourself rather than hiring a contractor? Whether it saves a bunch of money or if it's just too easy to be spending money on. I also imagine this differs for if you plan to flip the property or rent it out. Please share your thoughts! Thanks!

The biggest skill I cherish was learning how to tile. This fits both criteria of ease to do and savings. It is fairly inexpensive to acquire to tools you need (tile saw, trowels, multi tools, etc.) and is easy to learn. Contractors cost as arm and a leg for tiling jobs. This applies for both flooring and backsplash jobs.

Michael nailed it.

Supplies needed: a 4-8’ extension pole. Buy a good one. Decent roller refills (microfibre, don’t cheap out), tray & liners, 5in1 tool, 6” putty knife/ scraper, good caulking gun, generally clear caulk, but good tape (frog tape almost always but 3m has some good stuff too), good 4” roller to start w baseboards,

Buy a 7” dual bevel sliding mitre for baseboards. So much nicer than carting around a 12” or even 10”. Electric brad nailers eliminate the noisy compressor drowning out your easy listening radio. Something with rechargeable batteries works well usually.

Decent flooring cutters are $100 all day long. And I much prefer a cutter than a saw or razor knife (LVP) for floors. Grab a decent flat trowel for floating when needed.

Eventually, a small airless sprayer might be in the cards if you do a lot of painting. 515 / 517 tips cover almost all needs until you get good.

Enjoy the sweat equity!

good answers so far, especially like the one about choosing a light saw! here's one that only applies in older areas with plaster walls: learning to rekey plaster and skim coat walls flat. I've been able to save walls that at first I was sure needed to be gutted out. this is of greatest importance when you also have nice, grand old moldings that would be a problem replacing or working around if you gut.

These are exactly the type of answers I was looking for. Some great advice! Time to start youtubing!

Originally posted by Account Closed:

Buy a 7” dual bevel sliding mitre for baseboards. So much nicer than carting around a 12” or even 10”. Electric brad nailers eliminate the noisy compressor drowning out your easy listening radio. Something with rechargeable batteries works well usually.

 I actually just searched for these saws, and the DeWalt is 4 b heavier than my Hitachi 10" that will cut 1x6! Plus it will miter bigger crown without fancy calculations to do it with both bevels. I had previously looked at the electric nailers so I wouldn't have to shlep around the compressor.  They seemed expensive, big and cumbersome. I've been using Harbor Freight nailers for many years, but I've been REALLY happy with their latest generation, light, small and cheap. Have an 18ga, 18ga crown stapler, 16ga, and I've been finding more and more uses for my 23ga pinner too.

Paint, flooring, light fixtures, and plumbing are all easy to do.

How rad would it be if the app didn’t crash every time you tried to tag someone? ... anyway, Johann spotted a good point, tools are a category with a massive range of quality. For rarely used things, you probably don’t need to break the bank. Search reviews on brands before you rob the kids’ college fund. YouTube is great for reviews these days too!

Probably used my circular saw more than anything, it's about 50 years old spits fire, real loud, just keeps going.

Yep, mine was my grandpas, probably bought at a farm auction for $1... old as dirt, loud as a diesel, works like a charm. Swap the Diablo blade between that and the small mitre all the time!

Like the others mentioned, paint/flooring is a big one.

I'd add being able to do minor drywall repairs and knowing how a toilet works. But call a drywall or plumbing pro when it's beyond the easy stuff.

Originally posted by Account Closed:

How rad would it be if the app didn’t crash every time you tried to tag someone? ... anyway, Johann spotted a good point, tools are a category with a massive range of quality. For rarely used things, you probably don’t need to break the bank. Search reviews on brands before you rob the kids’ college fund. YouTube is great for reviews these days too!

 I've always lived by the old adage that if you are buying a tool, buy the cheapest.  If you wear that out buy the best you can.  There are always exceptions.  It just doesn't make sense to buy a $200 grinder if you only have a project.  Buy the $20 one and if you wear it out or find that you need more bells and whistles, then upgrade.  

Caulking seems under rated, a lot of people can paint, but filling cracks neatly hides a lot of flaws.

Originally posted by @Larry Yinger :
Originally posted by @Kris F.:

How rad would it be if the app didn’t crash every time you tried to tag someone? ... anyway, Johann spotted a good point, tools are a category with a massive range of quality. For rarely used things, you probably don’t need to break the bank. Search reviews on brands before you rob the kids’ college fund. YouTube is great for reviews these days too!

 I've always lived by the old adage that if you are buying a tool, buy the cheapest.  If you wear that out buy the best you can.  There are always exceptions.  It just doesn't make sense to buy a $200 grinder if you only have a project.  Buy the $20 one and if you wear it out or find that you need more bells and whistles, then upgrade.  

Hmm I read your post and thought.  

NO I don’t agree.   Then thought about it and that actually IS what I did basically. Lol

Bought some cordless B and D tools used them on a flip

Then bought 5 more houses to flip and decided to go all in on Dewalt.   

Wow they are amazing.   BUT if I had only done the first one I would have wasted a lot of money on the Dewalt and never used them again

Great advice IMO 

@Nick Thomas If you can do learn to do prep work and possibly painting, it'll save you some money as a beginner real estate investor. Though after you get the experience, the hard part is finding good, reliable and honest contractors to work with. Finding and managing contractors can be a challenge. Good luck!! 

@Michael Plante
I’ll let you in on a little secret that will leave you feeling kind of funny on the inside.

Dewalt is owned by none other than Black and Decker . . .

Now you may have heard of some the following tool makers -
Craftsman
Stanley
Husky
Porter Cable
Bostich
MAC tools
Proto
Blackhawk. . .sound familiar?

Yea Black and Decker owns all those too. . .

Oh and Price Pfister faucets (I’m a plumber)

. . . and Quickset locks . . .

#mindblown

Originally posted by @Jason S. :

@Michael Plante
I’ll let you in on a little secret that will leave you feeling kind of funny on the inside.

Dewalt is owned by none other than Black and Decker . . .

Now you may have heard of some the following tool makers -
Craftsman
Stanley
Husky
Porter Cable
Bostich
MAC tools
Proto
Blackhawk. . .sound familiar?

Yea Black and Decker owns all those too. . .

Oh and Price Pfister faucets (I’m a plumber)

. . . and Quickset locks . . .

Plumbing skills are very helpful also, I hire out a whole lot of plumbing I could easily do myself, I am just to slow at it. Don't want to tie up a tenants time, while I screw around with things a skilled plumber can do 3 times as fast. 

Learn how to use PEX for your plumbing repairs or for new installs.  Also buy a good Digital Volt meter.  It can save you some time checking outlets and switches.

This post has provided way more information than I ever anticipated when posting it. You have all been very helpful. @Rachel H. Lucky for me my second job is marketing for a design build so I would have them doing contracting for the big stuff I can't do myself at a fraction of the cost I'd have to pay other companies. (That will only be available if I buy my property in Virginia though and I will likely be looking elsewhere for a vacation property since flipping in this area seems well out of my price range)

@Larry Yinger I definitely will go with some cheaper tools to start off. My best friend is currently renovating a very old house he got handed down to him and has accumulated a good amount of tools. I will likely be buying my first property as a partnership with him. Over the summer I'm going to help him finish off some of the projects he has on that house which is nice because I gain valuable experience without any of the costs. Already have worked on drywall and just tearing off some of that old wooden siding panels and painting. This summer from what he is saying he will need help with minor plumbing, and a full kitchen remodel. The house was a wreck when he inherited it, but it's coming along nicely.

1) Tiling. Learn to tile floors and either buy a wet saw or learn where you can rent one locally. Of course this is regional; I'm aware that people hate tile floor in cold regions because the floor is so cold when it's 20 below outside.

2) Drywall. Learn how to install and repair drywall, learn when other materials would be better (durarock, hardie, etc) and how to finish. I bought a simple Wagner texture sprayer that works great, but you have to thin joint compound to the point of it being as loose as a thick paint for it to spray well.

3) Basic electrical. Nothing crazy, but learn how to replace outlets, light switches, GFCIs, and how to install lights and ceiling fans. In my 3 house I replaced all of the outlets with new "safety" outlets (they prevent kids from sticking an object in an outlet and zapping themselves), and light switches with the big fancier Decora style switches.  Buy the little tools to "sniff" if the wires are hot.

Other easy stuff:

* I run 2 complete coax cables into each bedroom and living room and 1 into the kitchen and other rooms. With the right tools working with coax is relatively easy. I rip out what is usually a spaghetti mess of wires and splitters in the attic with this method and then all wires run to a common point.

* Baseboards. There's no need to hire a carpenter. Just get a nice miter saw and use quality material.

* Landscaping. It's virtually impossible to screw this up yet investors frequently pay professionals. Visit a local Mom-n-Pop nursery and ask what will work in your area and do it. Sometimes the big box places stock plants not suitable for the store's region. Also do the minimal. If you're flipping the buyers may want to landscape themselves, and the juvenile micro-plants you planted were a waste of money.

* Replacing toilets. It's actually pretty easy. Also toilets are virtually indestructible so consider saving the toilet and replacing its guts. I cleaned hideous toilets back to virtually new in a few minutes using pool acid. I've replaced a lot of the guts in a toilet and the next time I renovate I'm going to fully rebuild a toilet with stainless steel: the only metal truly suitable for water exposure.

* Painting: unless you are so busy you literally don't have time to do this or you hate it with an absolute and irrational passion then you love throwing money away.

No to a tile saw get a tile cutter that scores and cuts. So much faster

You can learn the basics of any DIY job on the internet. Regardless of what job you choose the number one skill to learn is to do quality work.

Their absolutely no advantage saving money on any job if you do not do top quality finish work.

Doing quality work is definatly the #1 skill to learn in rehabbing.

PAINTING ! I hate painting !!!

Something that is very important though. A good paint job does wonders. A bad one.....well you get the point.

Painting isn’t hard in essence but if you don’t use the correct rollers, prime correctly, trim correctly. It can wind up costing extra money and time to fix up. You’ll be doing “detail painting” for weeks lol

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