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House Flip - Do You Know Where Your Receipts Are?

By Edited Mar 21, 2016 0 0

If your venture into the world of real estate investing involves a house flip, then follow a few simple rules, and this can end up being a great investment. Who knows you might do such a good job on renovations that you will move in yourself!

There are three simple rules that will help smooth the way for your house flip.


Get a good inspection. Find a reputable inspector and make your purchase of the house you are considering, have the condition of a "house inspection".

If the people selling it, refuse, then walk away, as they are likely to be hiding something big. But if they are willing, then get an inspection to find out where you stand on the renovation front. This way you can find out if something needs to be looked at first, before starting anything serious. In our case, we made the decision to replace the furnace. It was 37 years old, and after the inspector went through, he said it was on borrowed time. So, we took the opportunity to put in a high efficiency one, which is a good selling feature.


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Sometimes you can find a great deal with a "as is" house, that might not have any history, you can go to view the house with an inspector, just to see if there are structural issues to be addressed. Most other things can be fixed, but foundation and structural issues are huge money if there are repairs needed, and it can be hard to get it back in a house flip. If you are still stuck on a place that needs this work, then, at least you will be well informed and offer accordingly.

In many cases the homeowner selling the place, is totally unaware of any problems lurking in their home. Not everyone is out to be devious and hide things, but a good inspection will help you identify potential problems that need to be addressed first.


This is really important. It sounds easy, but once you get a few people in there, contractors here, some family members there, and people picking up supplies at different hardware stores, it can get high quickly.

If you lose control of the small things, they can beat a new kitchen or bathroom quite quickly in costs. Example: We are presently working on a renovation, and there are a few family members involved. If they think they need something from the hardware or building supply store, they usually run it by me, but it can easily add up. There is a huge difference in tiles for a bathroom. You may love the high end fancy granite ones, but is that really going to get you a return on your house flip? There are just as many beautiful and nice tiles and fixtures for a fraction of the cost if you shop well.

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Portable Office - Seriously Important

You will be shocked by just how many bits of paper and "to do" lists you will amass when working on a renovation project, no matter how big or small.  I found having a portable office very important that could go with me in the car.  

Everything for that house was kept in the files and no where else.  It either lived in my car or at the house itself.

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Make sure you have a portable table, or office on site, with simple tools like baskets from the dollar store. This way any receipts can be placed in this basket right away, rather than lurking around in plastic bags all over the floor, or in the dashboard of your car, and the other larger basket can be for items that can be returned. This part amazed me. It doesn't take long to fill a basket with things that can go back. Extra boxes of screws, nails, tiles, things you bought too many of, rather than not buy enough. These can add up quickly. If they don't get returned or ruined laying around on the floor, this can add up to hundreds sometimes thousands of hidden dollars.

A Place for Receiptss

When renovating, there will always be purchases and then returns.  Most stores want the receipt if you are returning something and you have to get out of the habit of leaving the receipt in the bag.

Once you have a portable office set up, have a place for all receipts from purchases.  Get into the habit of placing them in these baskets, and then you can get money back for returns.  Nothing blows a budget out of the water like products that cant be used and cant be returned.

Portable Office Table

Using a folding table means you can move from room to room, but what I did, was set up in an area that wasn't being renovated and kept everything to do with the estimates, papers, budgets, receipts all here.

At the end of each week, or at the end of the job, you can try and find the receipts from the one basket that match the returns, or in the case of the building supply stores, such as Home Depot, you can simple bring them all back and they will scan them back into their system for a store credit. This worked best for us. We are always shopping there, and so a store credit was a great idea. This way you don't have to fumble with receipts, and you can keep your house flip costs down.

But having the receipts in one basket, is a good way to keep on top of your budget. You can enter them weekly into a spread sheet or computer program to see where your renovation dollars are going. If this is a house flip, this part is super important, as the whole idea to this venture is to make money. You do not want to be blowing any profits on the renovations.

Plan the Stages of Your Renovation

You don't want to be painting the walls, when the ceiling needs to be redone. Or you don't want to be replacing the kitchen cabinets without dealing with the floor first.

This may sound silly, but sometimes in a house flip, time is of the essence, and you may get different contractors or friends involved, and they all want to do their particular trade, whether it is in the right order or not.

So, plan out your renovation before it even starts. The day we took possession of our 1972 house, with shag carpets and shiny wallpaper. I created a plan of what to do first, because I know from the last time we did this, everyone gets excited to do their part, and then next thing you know, more than the carpets and wallpaper are coming out of the house. Trim you might have wanted to save, as well as closet doors etc..

So, make sure everyone is aware of your plan of action. To flip a house, you need to be on top of this just like a business. You need to keep things in order, and your budget should reflect the style of the house and the rest of the street. You do not want to be spending thousands on a house that makes it worth more than the rest of the street. So, as much as you would love to create a showcase of granite countertops, go back to number two, the BUDGET and stick to it.



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