From watching our show, you already know that Christina and I do a lot of DIY work on our house flips, but you’ll also notice that we have a whole crew of amazing contractors and home improvement professionals on call to help us. If you’re just getting into flipping houses, you’re probably wondering just how much you should do on your own and when you should call a contractor.
This is one of the most common questions we get asked, so I thought I’d weigh in on the subject.
When you’ve got a house to flip, you’re likely going to end up doing a combination of things. You’ll have some DIY projects, but for other things, you’re going to go straight to your contractors. But how can you tell when to do it yourself and when to call for help on a house flip? It all comes down to time versus money, and it’s all about making the most profit.
What Are You Skilled at Doing?
First of all, you have to know what you’re actually good at. Your husband might be fantastic at fixing cars—but fixing toilets and repairing walls? Not so good. That brings up another good point. It’s about what you’re actually skilled at doing—not like doing. Christina definitely doesn’t wake up in the morning saying, “Y’know what, babe? I want to go herd up some livestock and chase chickens around that property we’re rehabbing today.” If you’ve seen that episode, you’ll agree that’s not exactly her skill set. But staging homes and picking out the interior design? That’s definitely in her wheelhouse and is an excellent use of her time because, in my opinion, there’s no one better!
When I say you need to know what you’re skilled at, let me clarify. You need to know what you can do in a reasonable amount of time. Sure, you could absolutely do all the landscaping. But is there a landscaping crew in your area that can do it a lot faster than you could and for a reasonable price? If so, they’ll free you up to do something else, like researching another flip or chasing chickens out before the roofers get there!
Do the Math
I know of a lot of husbands who refuse to let anyone else do the rehabs on their flips. While I understand taking pride in being able to say you did all the work yourself, you have to look at this from a business and moneymaking perspective. Ask yourself this—how long will a job take you and could a professional do the job faster at a decent price? I once painted the inside of a house and it took me nine days to do it properly. On the next house, I called in a painter. He brought his crew in and they finished the entire job in less than a day!
Have I convinced you yet? Let’s break it down another way.
Let’s say you have just gotten a house under contract and your exit strategy is a flip. The house needs to be repainted, inside and out. Now, let’s say that you and your spouse are like Christina and me, and you’re completely comfortable doing it yourself. And let’s say you’re funding your house with a hard moneylender who charges 15% interest on your $100,000 loan.
If you and your husband or wife work together and put all of your time and effort into painting the house, how long do you think it will take you to paint the whole house? With just the two of you, even if you don’t have anything else you need to spend your time on, it’ll probably take you a full two to three weeks. That’s time that your property isn’t on the market, and you’re not flipping. A two-week delay will cost you a little over $576 in interest costs alone, not to mention the fact while you’re busy painting, nothing else gets done on the house. Now, how fast can the painters do it? And how much will it cost? And what else can you get done in that time to keep the ball rolling and get your house sold as quickly as possible.
So, should you go the DIY route or hire a contractor? Honestly, when it comes to flipping homes, the answer is always, “Do the math. Which one eats into your profits less?” If you can find a way to do a job quickly and easily on your own, do it. If it’s going to take a lot of time and effort and delay the sale of your house, it’s time to call in the pros.