Is rehabbing in your future if you have been all thumbs in regards to tooltime?

Hello everybody,

I am new to the industry and have been researching the topic diligently. Being in S. Florida, the market is kicked up quite a bit, and the average home is going for $300k in Broward County. So far a newbie, the prices may be somewhat prohibitive. I have good credit and want to get into this on a part time basis until I build up to replace my current income. I find this and a couple of other websites very informative and rewarding.

My question: if I have never been mechanically inclined in my life is the work involved in rehabbing too advanced for me? What typically is done during rehabs? What are the highest ROI rehab projects, i.e. the kitchen, bath, painting, etc.

Any help you can provide will be greatly appreciated.

Howdy FL Teal:

I have seen a lot of Tv shows etc that say to sell the woman the kitchen and the husband will go along with what she wants. The biggest return is in the kitchen. New paint and carpet especially that new smell of the carpet sells also. I have seen really ugly carpet keep a house on the market forever even with a generous allowance it was just a total turn off. You do not need to be MR Tooltime to do small rehab projects. I would stay away from major structural projects like house leveling and totally gutting a house without some assistance. New roofs are easy to get installed as you get out the yellow pages and gets bids and hire a roofer. After 3 or 4 contacts with contractors you will learn what is special about your roof be it flat or 12/12 pitched with gables as high as the sky.

If need be find a partner who knows construction. Also the average price house scares me to death there. I am dealing with a $13,000 duplex that I consider a no brainer and am having trouble finding partners. I can not imagine trying to do what you want to do there. Make sure you find a good deal as there will be cost overruns and things you want to do to the house that you first thought you may not want to do. I am in the middle of one where we decided to add new siding and new windows instead of patching the old asbestos stuff and leaving the old wood windows that were in bad shape. This cost an extra $5000 at least with a $500 budget. A smart move still on our part but the money did not fall out of the sky

Hope all this rambling helps some

My first post!!!

Obviously, the cosmetics of a home are important. If the rehabs in your area are the “Home Depot specials” (everything off the shelf, quick and easy) then you should plan accordingly.

The biggest things that bite you on a rehab are the things you don’t see…also, repairs you do to mechanical systems may not actually make your investment worth more money because they are classified as repairs, not improvements.

Floor and band joist around doors and bathrooms are common troublespots in older homes on crawl spaces because that is where the water is. You also want to look for signs of water damage around washing machines and other plumbing fixtures as well. Slow leaks left unattended for years will completely rot out any supporting strucutre and be expensive to repair. When looking at a home, see how high it is off the ground if it’s on a crawl space. If you can barely move around down there, repairs will escalate accordingly. Noone enjoys wiggling on there back in a crawl space that is 10 inches off the ground.

HVAC is also a kicker. For a house to get by the inspectors, any air conditioning ducts need to be insulated as not to condensate and become mold factories. So if the house has non-insulated duct work, be wary.

Insualtion…find out what your section-8 requirements are in your area. I’ve been stung by this one.

Electrical panels…fuses are out, way out and breakers are in period…here again, section-8 requirements may play a big role in how you do things if a rental strategy is on your list!

As a former auto mechanic and compentent carpenter, I give the following advice as far as learning how to use your hands. Stay away from anything heavy or big in nature (don’t plan on putting vinyl siding on your next rental by yourself). Based on my experiences, a layperson can learn to build simple decks, do minor electrical and plumbing repairs, paint and minor sheetrock repairs. Ceramic tile and trim work are easy enough as well.

Electricity can bite you so it’s important to learn the basics. The books avaliable down at the Home Depot are pretty good. Light fixtures would be an easy place to start, followed by switches and outlets. If it goes beyond that, call the electrician. Understand where you’re breaker panel is and know how to use it!

Plumbing isn’t brain surgery either and replacing a valve here and there and maybe even a toilet is easy enough. Here again, Home Depot books don’t suck for this kind of thing. Just get familiar where the water shutoffs are!!

Building a 10x10 deck is easy enough but don’t ever plan on replacing a band or floor joist. Rotted subfloors in bathrooms are better left to pros too…

Sheetrock work is dirty and nasty while you’re learning but is a great tool to use as it plays a big part in how things actually look when finished. The tools are cheap and whatever you screw up can be fixed! Hint…mix the mud up thourghly before applying…it should go on like butter!

Painting is not bad but there is more to it than you think. Having quality brushes makes all the difference.

If your investment requires more than this, hire someone to do it for you. You don’t need to know anymore than these operations and the tools needed for repairs such as these aren’t expensive. Screwups on items such as these are also not hard to redo.

Good Luck!

hi kenvest,
great info. i know yhe answer was originally for someone else but i had askd a similiar question at another site and barely got an answer! thanks again :-*

A lot of the cosmetic stuff (paint, sheetrock, wallpaper removal, etc.) is NOT rocket science…it takes a bit of practice and some patience but is not all that difficult.

My recommendation - start slow. Look for things that you can do and if you “putz” them up can be “un-putzed”. Many houses just need some paint, some carpet, and a couple other things and they are ‘good-to-go’…eventually you will 'graduate to harder and harder projects.

Get a good book about ‘basic home repairs’ and read it and use as a reference guide. You’ll need some basic tools. If you’re going to do these things again, buy decent tools (not necessarily the best or the prettiest tools, but decent, solid tools). Keep them and MAINTAIN them! Keep cutting tools (sheetrock knives, saws, saw blades, etc.) SHARP! I have had a lot of my basic tools for 20+ years. They aren’t real pretty but they work and they are serviceable (and NOT dangerous!)…buy good ($10-14) paint brushes (it’s just a lot easier, trust me!) and keep them clean. You should clean them several times a day to keep the accumulated ‘glop’ from hardening and ruining the brush. Don’t use a brush that you painted black with to paint white with later – there is ALWAYS some paint in the brush no matter how clean you think it is). Use an inexpensive brush for primer!

I am at the point that I can do most stuff on a fix-up but I know my limits. I will not do major electrical work, air conditioning, furnace, foundation, carpet, etc. but anything else, I can usually figure out.

“Sheetrock Filler (mud) fixes just about any hole and paint hides a MULTITUDE of sins!”

Bottom line – you CAN do it!

Hope this helps!


Thanks to all of you for providing great and detailed responses.

So like Nike, I will Just do It !!! OJT will pay off in the long run.


Just remember: With enough time, money, and/or patience, anything can be fixed. Be careful around electricity (shut off the breaker!) and there is no such thing as a “one-trip-to-Home-Depot-plumbing-repair”!

Have a good Easter weekend!