6 Items to Inspect BEFORE You Rehab

Before you start your rehab work, you need to determine what requires repair and upgrade work. Here are six areas to inspect BEFORE you start.

Congratulations! You found the ideal house to fix and flip, and you believe the worst is over, right? Wrong! Just because the search is over for the golden property doesn’t mean you’ll enjoy smooth sailing from here on out. Now you get to focus on executing a phenomenal rehab because, let’s face it—without a significant rehab, there’s no quick resale. And without a quick resale, there’s no massive profit waiting to reward you at the end of the process. So, where should you focus your attention before taking on this rehab project?

The six areas that impact your profitability the most on a rehab project include the basement and attic, the electric/plumbing/HVAC, the walls and floors, the kitchen, the bathroom, and finally, the appliances/fixtures/locks.

But how do you begin? Before starting your rehab work, you need to determine what requires repair and upgrade work. Which areas deserve the most attention and professional work? Here are six places to inspect BEFORE you start knocking through walls and replacing fixtures.

What Will It Cost Me to Rehab a House In Order to Flip It?

There are many factors that go into rehabbing a house in order to flip it. Some things you may need to budget for include:

  • The cost of materials, such as a new roof or windows. When rehabbing a home, there are many things to inspect before starting the project. One of the most important things to look for is the cost of materials. Never rely on cost estimates from past flips! The price fluctuations in materials happen so rapidly now that anything past 30 days should be considered outdated pricing. 

  • The cost of permits and inspections. It is important to remember that permits and inspections are not free. In fact, depending on the size and complexity of your project, you may be required to pay for both licenses and inspections. The cost of these services can vary depending on the location where you are working and the type of permit or inspection that you need. However, a ballpark estimate of the cost of these services can range from $100 to $1,000.

  • The cost of staging the house for sale. The cost of staging can vary depending on the size and condition of the house, but some basic costs may include painting, repairs, and new furniture. It’s important to factor in these expenses when calculating how much money you’ll need to bring the property up to par.

  • The cost of marketing the house. You may be able to get some discounts by negotiating with a real estate agent, but you’ll likely need to spend at least $1,000 on advertising. 

  • The time it will take to rehab the house. This includes both the actual work and the time spent waiting for permits and inspections. Remember that your time is money!

  • The potential profit you can make from flipping the house. This includes location, condition of the house, and market conditions.

  • The amount of risk you are willing to take on. You may be willing to take on a higher level of risk to make a quick profit. However, you should weigh the risks and rewards before making any decisions.

  • The unexpected. Storms, vandalism, inflation.

In terms of the actual amount of money you’ll need, really the sky is the limit. You can rehab a property for $0 or $100k, but I’ve drafted a few rough calculations you should consider in this guide to help get you started.

How Do I Inspect an Area Correctly?

Before we dive into the specifics, I want to give you a few tips for how you should conduct a preliminary inspection or walkthrough on a potential investment property:

Check for Any Obvious Major Problems Such As Water Damage, Structural Damage, and Wiring Issues

Why these matter: Water damage can cause mold, and structural damage or wiring issues can lead to dangerous conditions where perhaps the entire house itself cannot be saved.

What to look for: 

  • Water stains on the ceiling or floor
  • Uneven flooring
  • Paint or wallpaper that’s peeling, coming off in large chunks, or has holes in it.
  • Doors that won’t close properly. This could be a sign of a sinking foundation.

Check for Any Major Outdated Features or Fixtures in the Property

Why these matter: Outdated fixtures and features often need to be redone to comply with the most recent building codes. Some things can get grandfathered in, but others may need to be replaced altogether for them to pass your buyer’s inspection.

What to look for:

  • An outdated HVAC unit or heating/cooling system
  • Outdated appliances, such as a refrigerator that’s more than ten years old
  • A bathroom with a 1970s-era shower or toilet.
  • Old light switches. The press-button kinds that were popular in the 1920s, in particular, are a dead giveaway you’ve got outdated wiring. 

Check for Any Potential Environmental Hazards Such as Mold or Asbestos

Why these matter: Mold can be a serious health hazard, and asbestos is known to cause cancer. If you’re aware of any potential environmental risks in the property, you may want to disclose this to your buyer to get them to take the property off your hands.

What to look for:

  • Mold or black spots on walls or ceilings
  • Carpet that’s matted down with debris or has deep stains
  • Paint that’s peeling, bubbling or has been damaged by water

The Six Critical Areas You Need to Inspect Before Investing in Real Estate

1. Basement and Attic

When inspecting a property, it’s always good to start at the bottom and work your way up. Go check out the basement. The primary item you want to keep a lookout for is water. Is there any evidence of water on the floor? Do you see or can you smell any mold? If so, you have a leak on your hands that you need to locate and fix ASAP. You will also need to eradicate any mold. While you’re down there, see if there’s any significant damage in the foundation or any termite damage. If so, you may have more rehab problems than you bargained for.

Take a quick look at the attic as well. Check the insulation and roof joists and make sure they are in good condition. Also, be on the lookout for any frayed, damaged, or strange wiring. These are problems just waiting for an excuse to burn down the house, and it’s best to get them replaced before they can cause any trouble.

One tip: If you see spiders, that most likely means there are gaps in the insulation letting air into the house. Spiders are great canaries for this; check out where their webs are and feel around for any airflow.

2. Electric/Plumbing/HVAC

Speaking of frayed wires, the electrical system is one item on which you’ll want to perform a thorough inspection. First, you need to inspect the service, Weatherhead, meter box, breakers, and outlets. If the entire system looks outdated or damaged, you may need a new or upgraded service.

If you’re looking to replace or add an HVAC system, you will definitely need to upgrade your electrical system. With an HVAC, the inspection is pretty simple. First, check if the system is operable and in place. Then, make sure the ducts are in place, and you can feel air coming out of the ducts once the system is turned on. Also, check if the HVAC is too old or if hot air blows when it should be cold air and vice versa.

You can actually check the plumbing system while you’re inspecting the basement. If you catch mold or water in the basement, you can safely assume it’s a plumbing problem and isolate it. Once you eradicate that specific issue, you can inspect the rest of the plumbing. First, try every faucet and fixture to ensure they work. Then, keep the water on and check for any leaks anywhere. Listen closely for dripping or splashing.

3. Walls and Floors

Believe it or not, the walls are critical pieces for determining how fast your fix& flip will sell as they’ll be the first thing a buyer sees when they walk into your home. If any walls have holes, mold, or other significant damage, you will need to replace them. Also, take a look at the flow from room to room. Is a wall blocking an otherwise flawless flow from the dining room to the kitchen? You might want to get rid of it. Many fix-and-flippers end up knocking through walls to open up a living space or kitchen. This makes the room more aesthetically pleasing and gives the illusion of more space.

Look at the trim or molding. Are they damaged or old? You might want to replace them. Give the walls a complete makeover in warm, neutral colors.

A word to the wise: hardwood floors are IN right now, especially on the main level. Look into refinishing hardwood floors in the living room and dining areas. Check the flooring in the kitchen and bathrooms. Do they need to be upgraded from vinyl to tile? Also, inspect the carpets in the bedrooms and ensure they’re in excellent condition. If they are damaged or irreparably stained, you will need to replace them.

4. Kitchen

The kitchen is the heart of the home. Therefore, you need to make it absolutely STUNNING. You also need to evaluate the style and make sure it reflects what buyers want today. If the kitchen is avocado green with busy stencil borders, you definitely want to invest in a new paint job. Many buyers want a sleek kitchen design. White cabinets, granite countertops, and new stainless steel appliances are staples to a successful rehab.

Make sure the cabinets match well with the countertops and appliances. If the flooring is outdated or has a pattern reminiscent of the 1970s, you definitely want to invest in new flooring.

5. Bathroom

Potential buyers will want to check the bathrooms. Check the style of the bathroom and make sure it reflects current. Replace any damaged vanities, commodes, and tubs. A beautiful bathroom can persuade a buyer to get the property under contract right away.

If the bathroom needs a new paint job, be sure it matches the beautiful porcelain. Also, take a look at the tile floors and make sure they match and are pleasing to the eye. The worst thing you can do is execute a gorgeous renovation on a bathroom and completely forget the grimy, aged tiles with clashing floral patterns.

6. Appliances/Fixtures/Locks

If you plan on renting out your property, you can get away with not replacing the appliances. However, if you plan to fix & flip it, you need to replace the kitchen appliances. Trust and believe you’ll make your money back in the quick resale.

Also, be sure to get rid of any old or outdated fixtures. These are minor costs that can afford a little wiggle room. Updating the light fixtures can really upgrade a room and make it more desirable. Adding ceiling fans can also be a major selling point to the buyer with an eye for economy. You will also want to check the locks on doors and windows to make sure they work and aren’t painted over.

Final Thoughts

Getting involved in fix & flips takes a keen eye and attention to detail. Take your time and inspect everything before starting your project or putting in an offer. You will be glad you did!

Are there areas I missed that you have tips for inspecting? Leave a comment and let me know. 

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