If You Mess This Up, Your Next Flip Will Probably Flop

by | BiggerPockets.com

Have you ever walked into a house and something just felt off?

No, I’m not talking about ghosts or the next haunted-house horror movie. If this happens, chances are it’s because the floorplan wasn’t well designed.

I’ve seen this “cardinal sin” of real estate development committed on every level of house, from rehabs to old and new construction alike; people don’t spend enough time designing floorplans.

Everyone loves to pick tile, paint colors, and cabinet finishes, but if the floorplan doesn’t make sense, the house won’t sell (and if it eventually does, it will be at a huge discount).

What can you do to ensure this mistake doesn’t haunt your next rehab?

Related: Expert Tips and Tricks for Successfully Flipping Houses

Here are a few tips from someone who’s taken some of the worst-designed floor plans and years of poor planning and created spaces people love living in:

  • Ensure the number of bedrooms and bathrooms are correct for the size and location of your project

    If you don’t get this right, you’re headed for immediate failure. The typical home in the United States today is a 3/2. If you rehab an older home, chances are it won’t have enough bathrooms. The extra expense and time is completely worth it. In all MLS systems, people specify the number of bedrooms and bathrooms they want. If you are outside this criteria, people won’t even see your home. Make sure you’re attracting the maximum number of potential buyers. Get your bed and bath count right!

  • Create usable living spaces

    This may seem completely obvious, but you wouldn’t believe the numbers of freshly rehabbed homes that have small living spaces chopped up and tucked away from the rest of the house. Today is the age of open living spaces. Formal dining rooms aren’t as popular as they once were, and they probably won’t be used. Give that extra space to a larger, more-flexible living room. If you have to, open up walls and throw in a few beams or columns. Create spaces to entertain in; if the party people like it, chances are the rest of us will to.

  • Design jaw-dropping kitchens & bathrooms

    These are still the spaces in the home to invest your big dollars. Spend the extra few dollars per foot on the cool backsplash tile. Put glass fronts on your upper cabinets. Design built-in wine storage. Add the vintage lighting. People will absolutely notice. Another thing I’ve started doing is raising the height of my shower fixtures. These are typically installed at a little over 6 feet, but I’ll go to 7.5 feet. I also love sconce lighting in bathrooms. It’s the little tweaks and upgrades that give a space the high-end feel.

  • Install walk-in Closets

    If you are ever faced with the dilemma of either having a bigger bedroom or a bigger closet, do big closet every time. This gives your buyer the ability to declutter the bedroom with plenty of storage to put their belongings out of sight. Nobody likes small closets. This will be another potential deal breaker if you make the wrong call.

Related: 3 Tips to Productively Work with an Architect on Your Next Project 

What’s one design choice you wish you could wipe off the face of the earth? Let me know in the comments below!

About Author

Christopher Gill

Christopher Gill is a real estate investor and serial entrepreneur based out of San Antonio, TX. Starting with just $15,000 in working capitol in the past 5 years he’s owned millions of dollars worth of residential and commercial real estate. Come hang out and let's talk real estate!


  1. Aaron Raymond

    Thanks for sharing Chris. One thing to keep in mind with installing Sconce lighting in the bath is your bathroom mirrors. The sconces require you to break up your mirrors in double vanity situations. Make sure you have the space between to do it.

    I agree with the choppiness of a floor plan, if you don’t do something about it someone will want the home cheaper so they can.

    • Christopher Gill

      So the question becomes… where else can you put sconce lights in a bathroom to make the space feel more high end?

      Doesn’t always have to be next to the mirrors!

      Adding additional built in lighting (and then throwing them on dimmers) is one of the absolute easiest ways to make a space feel more high end.

  2. Great information Chris!
    It’s exactly what I’ve been doing for thirty five years. Another thing, HD and Lowes, look at what’s selling and what’s not in your area. When I did the granite auction every year, the guy running it told me, In Texas we getting bidding wars over onyx but here we can’t give it away. (Portland Or.) Right now I’m rehabbing a 5K footer built in 1981 and the builder was the designer, very poor layout but an awesome view.

  3. John Murray

    II have been very successful in flips and BRRRR. Here is truth about it. You must purchase at a 50% discount for flips and 20-30% for BRRRR. If you are serious you must be flexible and to move to a different city that is booming. You can put in all the upgrades and make that house spectacular, but the golden rule is you make your money when you buy. If you use the 50% and 20-30% rules you will become a multimillionaire like me. When my net worth went past $2M it was over the busiest summer of my life. I did not realize it until January the next year. That’s what its like, money means very little, time is in little supply. Looks like Tim Boehm knows what I’m talking about, another that has the flexibility mind set.

  4. Jazmine S.

    These were great tips you can actually go out and do something with! Watched your podcast about a year ago, always glad to see you still doing well. Will consider adding a third bathroom (currently a 5/2) on my current flip because those were extremely valid points. Thanks Chris.

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