Sometimes, when I look back at our early house flips, I just want to kick myself! Tarek and I thought we were old real estate pros, so we didn’t think that we had that much to learn about rehabbing distressed houses. While even our earliest rehabs had beautiful results, I can’t help but think about all of the things we spent money on where we could’ve saved big time.
Over the past few years, as I’ve gotten more experienced with designing flip houses and working with project managers and contractors, I’ve picked up quite a few really fun and inexpensive upgrade tricks that I never would’ve thought to do when we first got started. Here are just a few of the attractive details I like to include that can make a flip property look better without crashing your budget.
You know those beautifully carved wooden support pieces that you see in the upper corners of porches? Those are carved corbels, and they’re surprisingly cheap. Grab a pair of these, paint them the appropriate color, and you can install them under the overhang on a kitchen island, use them to make a classy set of wall-mounted shelves, or place them in the corners of the entryway between two rooms. If they fit with the design of the house, they add a lot of style and class.
Want to make a dining room look more formal or give a bathroom more style? Grab some beaded board and some molding. Cover the bottom section of the wall with the beaded board and top it off with the molding. Paint it to match or complement the rest of the wall, and you have a beautiful upgrade that costs nearly nothing. You can use a similar trick to upgrade the sides of your counters and the island in your kitchen, too.
Speaking of molding, you can use crown molding to create a really cool look in the living room or dining room. Instead of installing it along the top of the walls, you can divide the walls into sections with large rectangles made from crown molding. In the right house, this detail will add a lot of class and sophistication.
Flagstone and Pebble Patio
If you have a property that doesn’t have a back patio and you have to re-sod the lawn anyway, you can upgrade the backyard with a surprisingly cheap patio solution. And you don’t even have to pour any concrete. Just define the patio area, pour pebbles or seed gravel, and lay matching or contrasting flagstones. It’s a cheap DIY trick that looks beautiful and adds a great outdoor communal space for your buyers.
Updated Hardware in the Kitchen and Bathrooms
Now, this is one I’m almost embarrassed to admit, but when we first started I’m fairly certain that I replaced at least a couple of entire cabinet sets that could’ve been brought back to life with a coat of paint and some new hardware. If the cabinets aren’t falling apart and they work with the design of the bathroom or kitchen, there’s really no reason to get rid of them. Just sand them, paint them, and pick out some updated hardware, and you’ll be amazed at the difference it makes.
These five cheap upgrades don’t work for every fix-and-flip house you’ll work on, but when they do, they’re amazing. I’ve saved a lot of money and have done some really impressive rehabs that buyers have loved, just by following these tips and looking for other ways to upgrade on the cheap (without sacrificing the quality of our work). And you can too!