Beginner's Guide to Fixing and Flipping a House

Add a new coat of paint

Whether you decide to paint your kitchen, bathroom, or bedroom (or all three!), a coat of paint can instantly transform the look and feel of a room. The best part about painting your own home is that you don’t have to stick to neutrals, because you aren’t trying to attract any buyers.

If you’ve been dying to paint your kitchen red or your bathroom blue, then do it! This is your chance to paint your home the colors that make you happy.

Stain-Blocking Primer

Water-based sealers do a good job most of the time, but for really tough problems like wood knots, yellowed water stains, heavy smoke damage, and other stains that bleed through paint, pigmented solvent-based sealers (BIN and KILZ are two brands) are unbeatable. Learn how to skim coat walls here. 



Do you have a piece of upholstered furniture that has worn or torn fabric? Don’t worry! You can replace the fabric with a design of your own choice. In fact, you may be able to make it better than ever! Plus: Fix a wobbly chair. And how to remove stains from wood furniture.

31. Change Ceiling Fan Direction


Your ceiling fans can help your HVAC system run more efficiently if they are spinning in the right direction. In the winter, ceiling fans should run clockwise, to create an updraft pulling cold air up to the ceiling and allowing the warmer air to redistribute through the room. In summer, a counterclockwise rotation will send air down and out, cooling the overall room. Reversing a fan is a simple two-stop process: adjust the angle of the blades, and flip a switch. RELATED: 14 Secrets of People with Low Energy Bills

Revive your bathroom

A coat of paint, wainscoting, and a fresh shower curtain and linens are all super easy ways to instantly transform your old and tired bathroom.

If you’re feeling a bit more ambitious, you could even replace the flooring or change up the vanity. Getting ready in the mornings will be that much more enjoyable if you can do so in a beautiful bathroom.

18. Build Raised Beds


Don’t let poor soil quality stop you from starting a garden—build a raised bed! To allow easy access to your crop, aim for a bed that’s about three to four feet across. Dig a trench a few inches deep to accommodate a wooden frame, and fill with a raised bed soil mix that includes compost, manure, and rock dust for optimal growing conditions. RELATED: 10 Tips for Planning a Raised Garden Bed


Here are some things to consider before jumping right in to the fixer-upper commitment.

Find a Good Home Inspector

The first step to uncovering the mystery of any home you are considering for purchase or rent is to have it thoroughly checked out by a professional home inspector.

And since two heads are better than one, conducting multiple inspections is a good way to ensure that nothing falls through the cracks. Not only will you have a more accurate view of the repair or updating costs that you’re likely to encounter (especially within the context of electrical, plumbing and heating and cooling systems), but you might even find some more bargaining chips to present to the Seller for repairs or price concessions.

Weigh the Pros and Cons

It’s always important to consider all angles before purchasing a piece of real estate, but this is especially true in the case of fixer-uppers. In addition to making sure that you’re ready to take on the challenge of rehabbing a property, you also need to be certain you’ve picked the right one. Weigh (and make a list) of all the pros and cons (and other considerations) before deciding that this is the fixer-upper for you.

Download this first time homebuyers guide to fixer-uppers checklist to help you with your decision.

Check the Key Components

Although every property is unique, they are all made up of certain standard parts, so make sure the house is solid (albeit in need of some TLC) before signing on the dotted line. What should you look for when buying a fixer upper? Reference this quick list:

  • Structure
  • Roof
  • Foundation
  • Electrical
  • Plumbing
  • Heating
  • Doors and Windows

Cracking: Cause for Concern?

Because a house is, in essence, walls placed on top of a base, your most important key component to confirm is the foundation and its stability. But not every crack is cause for concern, so if you notice cracks in the foundation, consult this comprehensive list for determining the gravity of the problem – and figure out if it’s just gravity!

Bid It Out

Even if you have all of your ducks in a row, you can still run into problems with construction delays and overages, so be sure to consult multiple contractors for upgrade and repair estimates – with timelines!

Tell about the great fixer-upper you found! Tag @HomesDotCom on Twitter or on Facebook.

How Do I Improve the Curb Appeal of My Home?

Features that improve the curb appeal to every prospective buyer that approaches your house include a well-manicured lawn, low-cost landscaping, fresh paint (the front door at a minimum), and new address numbers.

DIY Home Improvement Ideas to Make Big Improvements for Little Money

1. A coat of paint can do wonders

A coat of new paint is easily the most transformative thing you can do for your house on a budget. The best part is that you don’t necessarily have to hire a professional. Do a little research, watch a couple of YouTube videos, buy some useful tools and you can do the job yourself. Here is how we’ve redone a basement room that was a little too dark (see before and after pic below).

2. Install new doorknobs, switchboards, and light

2. Install new doorknobs, switchboards, and light fixtures

Like I said above, little things can make a huge difference. Doorknobs and switch plates are easy to overlook but install new shiny ones and you will see how the whole space instantly gets elevated. The same goes for light fixtures and faucets. Good lighting opens up the room and makes your space look bigger.

Faucets, however, tend to be a bit expensive. But

Faucets, however, tend to be a bit expensive. But you don’t have to replace all the faucets in your house at once. Start with the kitchen and do the bathroom next month. You might also find some discount deals on your local home improvement store.

3. Add an inexpensive stair runner

The whole staircase can’t be ripped apart and replaced when you’re on a tight budget. Try an inexpensive runner instead to give your stairs a non-slip new look. Check out a thrift store or get the biggest table runner you can find (which works for stairs, of course).

4. Accentuate with crown molding

4. Accentuate with crown molding

Another way to upgrade your house is by adding crown moldings. But the easy way. Look for lightweight foam moldings (polystyrene foam coated in hard plaster). They are not only inexpensive but also easy to cut and install.

You can finish this project over a weekend and give your rooms an elegant touch.

5. Introduce greenery to your home

5. Introduce greenery to your home

THE most inexpensive way to give your home a new look is by adding greenery. Never underestimate the transformative power of lush green leaves and bright flowers.

Add a bunch of easy-to-maintain indoor plants like the snake plant, aloe, money plant, jade, rubber plant, and Philodendron to your living room. The greens will breathe a new life into your space and make it look brighter.

6. Add new curtains, rugs, towels, and sheets

6. Add new curtains, rugs, towels, and sheets

Faucets and light fixtures seem too much? Replace curtains, rugs, towels, and sheets instead. You won’t have to spend a lot of money and will still get a new look.

Step 4 – Have a Business Plan and Budget

Before you start spending money on the property, prepare a detailed business plan. Make sure that everything in your plan is realistic and possible to achieve. Don’t make assumptions about things like the price of your real estate or costs of repairs. Take several quotes from real estate agents about similar properties in your area and use them as benchmarks for future estimates.

In addition, you must define your financial obligations to the property. Make a list of all costs, from maintenance to taxes and insurance payments. Also, be sure not to forget to include the real estate agent’s fees! Once you have everything on paper, compare that with your income and see if you can make monthly payments without jeopardizing your financial situation. Consider finding cheap houses for sale and get more profit when you sell them.

To understand the actual price you should pay for the property, you should use the 70:30 rule. The after repair value (ARV) is often 70% of the price you should pay, and 30% are the labor costs. The ARV will give you an estimate of the property’s actual worth after it has undergone renovations.

Step 2 – Understand the Local Real Estate Market

Study your local real estate market and understand the nature of it. You will need to know its trends and market forces. With this study, you can make your own projections on the current state and how it will change in the future. To do this, research lots of reports on local real estate trends for your area. This research will give you great insight on what features are worth fixing and flipping with your investment property.

You will also know the market forces impacting your property and how they will affect your investment business. You should also consider studying real estate investment to have access to reliable projections on what is likely going to happen in the property market.

Fixing Up Your Home

Make a list of everything that's defective, broken, or worn out. Buyers might wonder what else in the home has been neglected if they spot problems or malfunctioning systems as they tour your home.

Minimum improvements to consider making before selling your home include patching holes and cracks in the walls and ceilings, and fixing broken appliances and HVAC systems. Repair leaky faucets.

Replace broken window glass, and repair the roof if necessary. Change any dated light fixtures or ceiling fans. Fix code violations—any serious buyer will have the home inspected.

Replace worn or stained carpeting. Repaint dark or marred walls with neutral paint—not white. Replace old drapes and window coverings.

Keep in mind that empty homes don't show as well as furnished rooms, but battered furniture can detract from your home's appeal. Consider upgrading your furniture if it's in bad shape. You can always take it with you when you go.

2. Curb Appeal

Curb-appeal projects make the property look good as soon as prospective buyers arrive. While these projects may not add a considerable amount of monetary value, they will help your home sell faster—and you can do a lot of the work yourself to save money and time.

Never underestimate the power of a positive first impression—from a well-manicured lawn, low-cost landscaping, fresh paint inside and out (at least the front door), clean carpets, and new exterior fixtures (e.g., address numbers). Lighting is another important feature (exterior and interior), but it can break the bank—or overrun your circuitry—if you overdo it. While you want the house to look bright and inviting, consider installing simple lighting for a modern upgrade.

Err on the side of plain vanilla, though. Now is not the time to incorporate bold design choices into the décor. Opt for subtle, tasteful designs that will appeal to a wider audience. If you need help with these projects, you can consult an interior decorating professional. Just make sure you lean toward inexpensive choices.

Avoid bold design choices in your décor. Subtle accent walls and tasteful backsplashes will add much more to your home’s appeal.

Selling a House As Is

There are some situations when it makes more sense to sell the house as is.

When a seller lists a house for sale as is, typically it means they will make no repairs to the property before the sale or offer any credits to the homebuyer to make improvements after the transaction is complete.

Let's say the property in question needs a lot of work. It has holes in the walls all the way to the exterior and urine-soaked wood floors. Much of the electrical system doesn't work, and the bathroom tub has fallen through the joists. All the faucets leak.

This is not a home that can be easily or economically fixed. A coat of paint won’t help. In this case, you might want to just price the house low enough to attract multiple offers. You can probably anticipate that only contractors and flippers will make offers.


Wells and septic systems have different considerations than homes hooked to central water and sewage.

Wise Up About Wells

Water is a necessity of life and fortunately you don’t have to be connected to group water lines to get the water you need. When you’re drawing your water from your own well, make sure your supply keeps up with your demand by checking out these guidelines.

Septic System Specifics

When plugging in to a main sewer line is not an option, you need a septic system to provide a means of safely treating and disposing of wastewater from your kitchen, bathroom and laundry facilities.

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