Olivia (my nickname for this property) was the first rental property I ever purchased. When I bought it, I was fortunate enough to only need to put flooring in the kitchen and repaint the home to get it ready for a future tenant. Nearly 6 years went by when my incredible tenant told me he was ready to move on and purchase his own home. After years of wanting to flip a home, I figured this was a great opportunity to try my hand at it and get some experience, especially since Olivia had seen better days and was in need of some TLC. It was a safer flip in my mind, because I knew the bones of it (foundation, pipes, electric, etc.) were good. Thus, it was mainly cosmetic changes I’d need to focus on updating in order to get the home ready for sale.
I began with a list…a LONG list…of all of the things I wanted to update.
Kitchen cabinets: New ones are a must.
The green tub in the upstairs bathroom: Oh goodness. THAT MUST GO. I might as well rip out all that green tile too while we’re at it. Okay, total rip out and renovation of the upstairs bathroom. Added. To. List.
The laundry room: Rip that bad boy up and let’s move it to the second floor.
Stainless steel appliances: You bet!
And on and on the list went. I had lofty goals, like moving the laundry room upstairs, and I had reasonable goals, like redoing kitchen cabinets.
As I began to price things out, I soon learned that it would cost thousands of dollars, just to rip out the bathtub in the upstairs bathroom and get rid of the ugly green tub and tile. Guess I’m going to have to find a better way to do this, I thought to myself. And this is how much of this process went. Make a plan. Price it out. Cross out that plan. Write a new one. Price it out. Get it scheduled.
It truly is amazing how much things cost that you’d never plan for. Those shows where they flip a home and keep finding things that need to be fixed? That’s no joke. Every time I saw my contractor’s number pop up on my phone, I knew I’d be answering to hear another price tag. But when I tell you all the sweat (and some tears) were worth it, I mean it. It was something I’m so proud of accomplishing, and also something that I learned I likely do not want to do again anytime soon…at least not by myself. It’s a ton of work and would definitely be easier with a business partner or counterpart. I’m so beyond thankful for my family who kept me sane in the moments of being pulled way too thin. God bless them.
Here’s a brief timeline of what transpired to make this flip happen.
* Tenant moved out May 1st
* Immediately began getting quotes for carpeting, painting, cabinets, epoxy, etc.
* Ordered appliances during Memorial Day to capture sale savings (saved a decent amount of $$ this way!)
* Built a timeline with different vendors to understand at which point they’d recommend handling their respective tasks.
* Nearly the entire month of June was spent with multiple trips to Lowe’s to pick out faucets, fans, lighting, and other items. I spent my weekends there, and many more hours than I can count, pricing out options and determining what I did or did not want.
* By the end of June, I had the upstairs bathroom epoxied which saved me thousands. (More on that later)
* Early July, my cabinets and countertops were picked out for the kitchen and upstairs bathroom.
* Mid-July, construction began to demo every room and begin the renovation.
* End of July, the carpets were installed.
* Renovation and installation continued for nearly a solid month before it was complete and ready to be listed for sale.
*Mid-August the home was listed for sale!
The kitchen needed some serious TLC as you can tell from the before photos. The cabinets and most of the appliances were older in nature and their style showed it. The first thing I did was order stainless steel appliances. The second thing was picking out new cabinets and a countertop. My desire was to renovate the home and give it a more modern feel. When I went to a local wholesaler to pick out cabinets, he also recommended redesigning the layout a bit. He showed me a few different designs and once we landed on one, we ordered the cabinets. It took me almost a week to decide on the countertop, due to having literally 100+ options to choose from. Finally, I decided on a countertop with a “granite” look at a laminate price. Granite was 3x the price and simply not worth it for a flip, so at the recommendation of my realtor bestie, I went with a laminate countertop. Here you’ll see the photos of before renovations, demo day, and the finished product!
Second Floor Bathroom
This bathroom was the room that was most in need of a nearly full renovation. Whoever designed this bathroom did not take into account its somewhat narrow size. The Hollywood style lights and medicine cabinets were screwed into the wall, not set inside the wall as both should have been. This caused them both to protrude out and make the bathroom feel even smaller. My goal here was to brighten, modernize, and make everything flat against the wall to open up the space. I purchased new lighting, mirrors, cabinets, countertops, and fixtures. Here you’ll see pictured the bathroom as it was before, during demo day, and the finished product.
This shower was by far, the worst part of the entire house. As you can see, the green tub and tile are in dire need of sprucing up. I also knew that keeping a green tub would make the house feel older and negate the modern theme I was working to create. Initially, I thought I’d need to rip out the tile and tub to the tune of thousands of dollars. Thankfully, someone told me about epoxy which was a Godsend. I hired someone to epoxy the tub and tile and since both were in decent condition, the epoxy made it look brand new! For less than $1,200 I had what looked like a brand new shower and tub. If there was one major ‘hack’ I learned, this was it! I will forever swear by epoxy after this. If you’re in the NJ/NY area, I highly recommend Russ at All New Tub & Tile Refinishing & Repair. They did a fantastic job and I felt they were reasonably priced.
This room was in the best condition of all of the rooms. However, it wouldn’t have made sense to leave this one undone when I was repainting and recarpeting the rest of the house. The updates to this room were minimal in comparison. I had it painted, recarpeted, and replaced the blinds and closet doors. You can see how changing the colors to lighter shades really brightens up the entire room!
Yowzers. This carpet was in dire need of being replaced. This room was repainted, recarpeted, received new closet doors, and new blinds.
This room was also in dire need of new carpeting. As you may have noticed already, I kept it simple and purchased the same carpet for all the carpeted rooms in the house. It keeps the home feeling put together, eliminates additional mental energy to ensure colors match between rooms, and overall makes things easier in a flip. The new carpet had a blend of white, gray, and some blue tones which makes it a carpet that hides dirt well and matches nearly any color. I used Smart Carpet for this flip and they were fantastic from start to finish. This room was painted, recarpeted, and had new blinds installed.
First Floor Bathroom
While I neglected to get a before photo of this bathroom prior to demo day, it’s worth noting it had laminate flooring in it previously. It looked old and definitely needed to be updated. Since this was a smaller bathroom, I opted for a tile floor which was more expensive than laminate. I felt it was worth it since I was preparing it for sale and believed it would increase the value and the desirability once it was on the market. This bathroom received a new toilet, mirror, light fixture, faucet, flooring, towel rack, and toilet paper holder.
* Always anticipate spending more than you allocate. In my case, I ended up spending around 5k more than I initially anticipated.
* As best you can, have a list of what you plan to renovate and contractors/vendors in place to begin as soon as possible. Time is money in this industry and it’s imperative you complete your flip with excellence, but as quickly as you can.
* Get a professional to measure for your window treatments. I measured myself and fell short, which caused problems and multiple trips to multiple stores to find the correctly sized blinds. I’d recommend hiring a professional OR ensuring you know the correct way to measure for blinds.
*Hire a contractor! My contractor was a literal life saver. Without him, I don’t know how I would’ve done this.
*Negotiate, negotiate, negotiate. I asked multiple vendors what additional services they could offer and what their price would be. My contractor was able to bucket a lot of things into his pricing and it saved me hundreds, if not a thousand dollars or more. Always ask for better pricing. Worst thing they can say is no.
* Anticipate things will take longer than you hope, but do your best to ensure they don’t.
* Breathe. Hiccups are bound to happen, but you’ll survive and it will get completed.
While I’m not new to investment property, I was completely new to flipping. This was an undertaking that took a lot more mental energy, time, and money than I initially anticipated. The process began in May and continued through to mid-August. There were many hiccups along the way, inclusive of receiving broken items from different stores and needing to return them (multiple times!). I had numerous calls from my contractor stating there were things that needed to be fixed that we didn’t know were broken until demo day arrived. Things cost more than anticipated and there were days I quite honestly felt overwhelmed and thought there was no way this would ever get completed. And then, the day came when I walked through the home with my contractor and saw the finished product…and it made it all worth it. It’s not nearly as easy as television makes it seem, but it is very much so a reward and satisfying challenge to conquer. Have questions? I’d love to help! Leave a comment below and I look forward to our discussions.