Renovation Gurus

Real Estate Investor Rehab and Residential Renovation and Remodeling

Flipping: What Repairs Are Most Important?

A picture of an upside down house

Are you looking at flipping a house and worried about what repairs will pay off and what repairs will be a waste of money?

It’s true many repairs are expensive and result in little if any return on investment.  However, there are other repairs that are extremely important to increasing your return and helping the home to sell quicker.  A quick sell avoids monthly fees that can be costly to the bottom line.  The choices you make during renovation will determine the amount of money you make in the end.

According to Remodeling magazine’s annual cost vs. value report, some of the best renovations are those done on the exterior of the home—siding, paint, window, and door replacements.  This is because exterior renovations can immediately improve a home’s curb appeal.  Curb appeal should never be underestimated.  It can make a potential buyer fall in love with a house before ever stepping in.  The first impression is always the most important.  Buyers usually believe that homes that are properly maintained outside, will be properly maintained inside as well.

Renovation projects with the BEST ROI:

Attic rooms: According to Remodeling, you’ll recoup 73 percent of your investment when turning the attic into a bedroom. However, this also ranks as one of the most expensive projects, averaging $50,148 nationally. An additional bedroom adds square footage and any extra square footage will increase the selling price.  Extra attic space could also be turned into a media room, office space, or even a playroom.

Paint: Paint is a cheap and easy upgrade. If the walls have a lot of minor flaws in them, use flat paint. Otherwise, use eggshell. Always use earth-tones for best wide audience appeal.

Kitchens: Kitchen remodels return only 66 percent on average.  However, kitchens are typically the first room a homebuyer looks at.  Kitchen remodels can be expensive for typical homebuyers and an outdated kitchen can scare buyers off.  For flippers, getting a great contractor with great pricing and access to high quality materials at a discount is important.  Just don’t go too far with a kitchen remodel as you don’t want to price your home out of the local market.

For instance, you don’t want to gut the kitchen if it is in decent shape.  Sometimes basic updates like upgrading appliances, putting in new, brighter LED fixtures and refinishing surfaces works well enough.

Baths: Investing in a bathroom remodel yields a 62 percent return on average.  The first thing to consider is to increase the size of the bathroom.  A full bathroom is more desirable than a half bath.  Potential buyers like larger master baths with two custom sinks and a custom shower with bright lighting and mirrors.  Again, bright lighting can go a long way.  LED fixtures are cheaper now than when they were first introduced and can make an immediate impact.

It is important to get help or pay attention to the latest trends in decorating.  Bathrooms can easily look outdated so you need to make sure you have a good, modern plan.

Flooring: in most flips, it is advisable to use laminate hardwood flooring in the major living areas, and carpet in the bedrooms. Laminate hardwood flooring is
difficult to tell apart from real hard wood. It is not only more durable and scratch resistant; it is also less expensive.  Each house is different so be open to ideas (stained concrete, alternative floorings, etc.).

Landscaping: It is amazing what rocks, trees, and shrubs can do to increase the perceived value of a property. A good rule of thumb is to budget 1% to 2% of the final expected sale price of your home for landscaping.  Plant a couple flats of fresh flowers the day before putting the house on the market. This simple, inexpensive final step can help put extra cash in your pocket.

Back patio: The patio is an often overlooked but very important area. A simple $1500 deck with two chairs, a small table and a couple of glasses sitting on the table paints an awesome picture in the head of the potential buyer.

A picture of an upside down house

Renovation projects with the WORST ROI:

Home offices. A number of people work from home, but most don’t need a full-blown office. If you do convert a spare room to an office, opt for removable furniture rather than built-in cabinets. Built-in furniture gives the buyer fewer options with what they can do with the room. A home-office remodel recoups only 43 percent, on average.  It would be better to leave the space open so the buyer could convert it into a room that suits their needs.

Sunroom additions: You may recoup some if you live in a region where the sunroom can be used all four seasons, but in most cases, adding a sunroom will get you nowhere near a dollar-for-dollar return. Sunroom additions were among the lowest on Remodeling‘s list in terms of recouping costs—46 percent. Rarely do homebuyers list a sunroom in their top three desires when house shopping.

Garage: Other than paint, do not spend much money here.  A few cheap hooks for tools, such as a rake and shovel work great.


What’s popular now changes about every five years—contractors call this “stylistic depreciation”—so consider the latest stylistic trends.  Check out the local do it yourself centers for design ideas.  Read magazines and catch up to date on the latest.  Many people believe they are great designers but honestly there is a reason potential buyers turn their noses up when seeing the results.  Ask others for input and list your strengths and weaknesses.  If design and managing contractors is not your strength – get others to help.

Also, don’t get carried away and do too many renovations. When you are done remodeling the home, it should have a price on par with other houses in the neighborhood.  You shouldn’t be flipping the most expensive house on the block.

Most importantly, if you are a real estate investor your time should be spent on finding the next house to purchase and flip and arranging financing.  You don’t want to get too involved with renovations (especially if that is not your core strength).  Some investors have a great do it yourself attitude, but the truth is an outside company with contractors can often get better pricing on both material and labor.  A great renovation expert can save you time and money and get the job done right the first time.  They will also be aware of the latest design trends and are also very quick.  If you would like to help from the best in the business, call Renovation Gurus today.