If you’ve been fixing and flipping houses for a little while now—or if you have any experience with remodeling a home at all—you probably already know that no job ever goes completely as planned. Sometimes small things get overlooked, the wrong materials get ordered, measurements are wrong, and all kinds of other things go awry, but if you’re just a little bit flexible, you can learn a few lessons from other people’s disasters and how they turned them around.
MISSING FIXTURES AND A DEADLINE
Christina and I have dealt with this one a few times, and we’ve talked to a number of other real estate investors who’ve had it happen too. You get your plans done, order your materials, appliances, and fixtures, and give your contractors the go-ahead to start work. Then, when your contractors get to the bathroom or the kitchen, they find out that your suppliers missed a couple of important fixtures on their invoice.
The good news is you didn’t get charged for them. The bad news is you have to go find those fixtures fast so you can stay on track to meet your rehab deadline! The first time this happened to me and Christina, we panicked and ran around like a couple of crazy people, trying to figure out what had happened. Then we calmed down, went to our local construction materials store, and started searching. We had to be really particular about sizes and styles, since everything else was designed around those fixtures, but once we found them, they looked and functioned even better than we’d hoped.
WHEN YOUR PAINT CHOICE RUINS A ROOM
Sometimes a color seems like it’s going to be great, but then when you see it in action, you realize that it’s all wrong. Christina and I had one house that had a pretty small kitchen. We knew how to design to maximize cabinet and counter space, but we didn’t think about the fact that there was just one small window in this little room. We painted the kitchen a beautiful dark gray…that made it feel like a dark little cave.
We were so close to going over-budget and deadline on that project that we knew we couldn’t afford a do-over for the kitchen, even though we really wanted one. Instead, we looked at other options, like lighter tile for the floor. Since then, we’ve also learned to go look at left-behind paint at home improvement or paint stores. Sometimes you can find a batch of paint that was slightly off for someone else but that will work really well for your needs. It’s cheaper, too, so you don’t have to worry as much about going over your budget.
SURPRISE STRUCTURAL DAMAGE
One of the most expensive houses we’ve flipped to date was a gorgeous property with an amazing view. There was just one problem—we kept running into more and more costly renovations. And then we learned that there was a problem with the foundation that absolutely had to be fixed.
After borrowing some cash from my mom, we fixed the structural problem and then regrouped to see where we could improve the house without cutting corners or ruining our chances at making a profit. That experience was stressful, but it taught me to stay calm and look for solutions to solve any challenge. We had to find a few different solutions for that one, but it all worked out eventually.
So remember, every renovation or rehab you take on is going to have some kind of “disaster”, but if you keep your cool, you might find solutions that are even better than your original plan.