It takes a certain kind of creativity to see a “broken” home’s potential, but it takes a whole lot of real people working long hours and under less than ideal conditions to put those sticks and bricks back together. If you dream of flipping houses for fun and profit, building your contractor team is a vital part of the recipe for success.
Step by Step, Detail by Detail
If you’re a “big picture” person, there are lots of tools that can help you with the flipping process. You can use software to develop a timeline, prepare a cost estimate, manage expenses, track orders and deliveries and even to list your property once it’s ready for sale. But when it comes to hiring contractors, you’ll have to rely on gut instinct, reviews and recommendations and your ability to judge people.
Dealing with the variety of trades, subcontractors and suppliers, building inspectors and officials requires the concentration of a juggler and the patience of a parent with teenagers.
As you interview contractors, ask the following questions:
- What is your experience and how much remodeling have you done?
“Re-building” or remodeling, regardless of the scope of the project, is totally different from “ground-up” construction. Anyone you choose should be familiar with general construction principles, but must have remodel experience. The first rule of renovation is to expect the unexpected. It’s especially nice if your plumber’s best friend is an electrician, or if your framer has a brother who can set tile. Just saying. Ask about secondary skills, and for recommendations of other tradespeople.
- Tell me a construction story about the worst job you have done.
There’s a purpose in this. You’re looking for a sense of humor. You don’t want to hear that there hasn’t been a bad job. Just as an occasional “bad hair day” is normal, every contractor will have a horror story. You want to work with people who have learned from those experiences and can now laugh about them. You also want people who can laugh with you (or cry with you) when things go wrong.
- Final questions:
Ask about insurance, general liability, theft and hazard and workers compensation. The answers are important.
Flipping homes for profit takes vision, stick-to-itiveness, cash and a pretty good “recipe.” But making a better home for a real person or family is a very rewarding achievement. Use this guidance to make sure you have the right team on your side before you tackle your next flip.
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