Posted 4 days ago

Rookie Flip Lesson #18: Do the rehab work yourself or sub it out?

We spent 9 months on our flip. We did about 80% of the work ourselves - some by choice - some because we ran low on cash.  The job went 3 months over our timeline and way over budget.  Here's my take on doing the work yourself verses subbing it out:

1. Doing the work yourself gives you EXTREMELY valuable insight.  My husband has been a handyman/small scale GC for the last 15 years and while I had some exposure, it was a very eye opening experience to be immersed in everything first hand.

2. My husband is wonderful at the work itself but estimating costs on this large of a job was not in his wheelhouse so that was up to me.  I read 2 books, listened to podcasts, and watched webinars, then we gave it our best shot to put together a scope of work with a budget.  Doing it ourselves and itemizing every frickin' Home Depot receipt was much more eye opening than what was in everything we read.   

3. Having done things ourselves, we now know what was worth doing ourselves and what was not. There is a fine line between saving money and costing yourself too much time.  

4. You will have a better idea whether quotes from subs are fair.  Without having done the work yourself, how do you know if what is being quoted is a fair price or not?  I guess this knowledge would come with time, but in the beginning, we were so afraid of being ripped off.  So many horror stories about bad contractors.  Now we will know if they are feeding us a load of crap...

5. I have a much greater appreciation for what it takes to do the job.  That translates into a greater appreciation and respect for those we hire. 

I would recommend that every newbie do at least some of the work yourself.  A caveat to that though, is to make sure you are doing it right.  So if you don't have a handy bone in your body, never mind.  And even if you do sub it out - be VERY involved in every detail if you can. On the surface, things tend to look simple but there is much more to everything than you think.  I took time off from my day job to be on site for every time the subs were there - that is the only way to make sure they do it the way you want it done. You can be there to check the work and to address any issues that come up.  There were unexpected issues that came up every time - I could make quick decisions and keep things moving. 

Some final words of caution:  all of the above is hard, especially while working a W2 job and trying to manage our own house with kids and pets.  You will have bad days but you will also have a lot of good ones.  There is an immense amount of pride that comes at the end in creating something beautiful.  I have spent my entire adult life working a W2; working hard for ourselves is so much more gratifying.  

A before and after just for grins...

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