As a rehabber, there are some jobs that are worth knowing how to do. Perhaps the job is too small to hire out, you can’t find anyone who will do it, or maybe you ran out of money due to unforseen problems. Whatever the case, here are four jobs that are worth knowing how to do.
The 20 Best Books for Aspiring Real Estate Investors!
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4 Home Improvement Skills Every Flipper Should Master
Everyone should be able to paint. Few supplies are needed — and even fewer skills. A paint roller, paint pan and paint. Perhaps an extending handle if you are on the shorter end of the yardstick. You can paint the bulk of the wall first, then get the edges — or you can reverse that order. I like to get the edges and corners first.
I choose not to use tape to block off edges. I learned how to “cut in” by watching videos on YouTube. (This one is my favorite, but there are more than 69,000 to choose from.) Too many times, I would tape off the ceiling or edges, only to have the paint lift off when I removed the tape. It is really frustrating painting those edges again, and it doesn’t look nearly as good. The best way to learn how to cut in is to first watch the tutorial, then practice in the corners. They need to be painted anyway. Once you get the hand of it, painting goes really quickly.
Invest in a high quality angled brush, about 2-1/2″ wide. Smaller than that and you have to make too many trips to the paint bucket; larger than that and you start to lose control.
When the edges are done, get out your roller and start rolling. When rolling on textured walls, use a slow but steady movement. Going slower will allow the paint to settle into the deeper parts of the texture, reducing the number of coats you need to apply. A 10 x 10 room can be completed in just a couple of hours.
Top Tip: Buy quality paint. I purchased the cheapest paint I could find when painting my first house, and I ended up needing FIVE COATS to cover the color beneath. Fifteen dollars a gallon for the cheap stuff, but I needed 5 times as much as the high quality, $30 a gallon paint. Buying mis-tinted “OOPS” paint can save you a lot of money.
2. Basic Electric
Chances are good that the house you just bought comes complete with ugly light fixtures. Learn how to change that out yourself, rather than hiring an expensive electrician. While I wouldn’t recommend a complete rewire job on your first try, updating lighting — even installing a ceiling fan — can be done safely.
The library is full of books on how to do just about anything, including electrical. YouTube is another great source of information. Even better than a book, you can find a step by step video tutorial that you can watch again and again. A quick check revealed more than 57,000 videos to choose from.
Now, I’m sure I am going to hear from the electricians on the site who will say that it is not something to be messed with and hear stories of how homeowners have burned down their houses doing their own electric. I’m sure that has happened. If you aren’t comfortable with doing this kind of work, have someone who is more experienced help you out.
3. Basic Plumbing
Plumbers make a LOT of money. Back when dinosaurs roamed the earth, plumbing was done with copper pipes, which had to be soldered together. This is definitely a skill I don’t recommend learning on the job. One mistake and the whole house is flooded.
But there is a new sheriff in the plumbing department, and he goes by the name of Sharkbite. I cannot tell you what sort of engineering magic goes into the Sharkbite fittings, but they have made copper pipe repair lightning fast. You literally take the pipe and shove it into the fitting. Turn the water back on and no leaks. It is ridiculous how easy it is. Of course, you will pay for the convenience, but still not as much as hiring a plumber.
Even better, supply lines can be plumbed with PEX (in most cities), which is far easier and cheaper than copper. PEX stands for cross-linked polyethylene. In reality, if your state allows you to use PEX, it stands for Preposterously Easy Undertaking (nothing starts with an X). We re-plumbed our entire house using a book from the library and watching YouTube videos when we needed more instruction.
Easily the skill that has benefited us the most is tiling. Tiling is unbelievably simple to do. Lay mortar down, put the tile on top. There are nuances to this process, and I highly recommend watching several YouTube videos to see how it is done before you start in on your floor.
Oh, wait. Home Depot and Lowe’s both offer free classes about once a month on tiling. They will literally let you learn how to do it with their supplies, showing you the right techniques. There is no limit to how many times you can take the class, either.
Take your time and use a level. Mix small batches of mortar at first, and don’t be afraid to throw some out if you can’t use it in time.
Buy a tile saw at the big box store and learn how to use it. We paid $70 for our first saw about 10 years ago, and other than one new blade, we haven’t had to do a thing to it. We have used it for more than 1900 square feet of tile, including ceramic, glass, slate and travertine.
Flippers: What DIY skills have you found to be most valuable to your business?
Leave me a comment below!